Alexander Gustafsson had two chances to win the UFC light heavyweight title in his career so far. He produced fight of the year candidates and instant classics on both contests, but in the end he came out just a round shy on each of the scorecards to leave with the belt.
When it comes to scoring those close bouts, the most critical and debatable rounds for each of those fights had a pretty common theme.
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During the third round of his UFC 192 title bout, Daniel Cormier was seemingly winning more exchanges up until Gustafsson turned the tide with a big knee that hurt and dropped him. The champ showed some heart as he got back up, but he was visually shaken and flat footed as he clinched up to get his wits together and survive the round.
During the 4th round of his 2013 title bout against Jones, Gustafsson fended off takedowns and constantly tagged Jon, who ended up as a bloody mess for the first time in his career. It looked to be the Swede's best round of the contest, but then Jon cracked Gustafsson with a spinning elbow that hurt him. Alexander survived much like Cormier did last Saturday, but on this situation, Gustaffson never fell to the floor and he even defended a takedown.
In 2013, all three judges gave Jones the round, and he eventually won the match by the narrowest of margins.
In 2015, two out of the three judges gave the round to Cormier, giving him the split decision win. Many media members scored the 3rd round for DC as well.
Most valued Jones being closer to finishing over all the other exchanges Gustafsson won, but when the tables were turned, DC was victorious because "Cormier was winning most of the round!"
Jones' elbow came with just 36 seconds left in the stanza, while Gustafsson knocked down Cormier with 44 seconds remaining. Official stats also show that last night, Cormier landed just 3 more significant strikes in that round.
Looking at both cases, not only did Gus drop him and land earlier on the clock, he was also more dominant in 2013 than Cormier was against him prior to the tide-turning shots.
By no means were these losses robberies, but in a debate between damage and power vs volume and duration, Gustafsson has already been on both sides of the coin. Yet somehow, he still came out losing in both critical situations.
Alexander Gustafsson may very well be your uncrowned champion, twice a victim of unfortunate and subjective circumstances.
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