After Daniel Cormier lost to Jon Jones at UFC 182 and Alexander Gustafsson got annihilated by Anthony Johnson at UFC on FOX in Sweden, everybody thought a matchup between the two top-light-heavyweight contenders would make perfect sense. However, on Sunday we have learned that Dana White certainly doesn't think so, and that both fighters will face separate opponents next.
Now, Rashad Evans entered the picture with a few strong comments about Gustafsson on the last episode of the MMA Hour and - intentionally or not - positions himself as a possible next opponent for the Swedish superstar.
"One of the reasons why I felt AJ won was that Gustafsson... I like Gustafsson, Gustafsson is a cool guy and everything. But I honestly felt like he actually thought he was the champion. He had a great fight with Jones, and it could have went either way. but then he let the hype get to him,"
Gustafsson fought Johnson in the main event of UFC on Fox on January 14th. A win would have earned him another shot at light-heavweight champion Jon Jones, but Johnson stopped Gustafsson in the first round and will now face Jones for the title in his stead.
Evans feels, the outcome of that fight has a lot to do with Gustafsson mindset and the strong push the "Mauler" has received by the UFC since almost beating the champion in 2013.
"Because when you've got the UFC machine behind you, hyping you up, putting you on video games and stuff like that, you feel like, yeah, you are the champion, you just ain't got your belt yet. But then you're overlooking people. But when you overlook people, that's when you get it handed to you."
Rashad Evans is a former 205-lbs. champion himself and lost the belt to Lyoto Machida in 2009. Three years later he fell to Jon Jones in another crack at the title. Since, he has won back-to-back fights against Dan Henderson and Chael Sonnen, but hasn't fought since November 2013. He was scheduled to face Glover Teixeira at UFC Fight Night 61 on February 22nd, but the bout was scrapped when Teixeira pulled out citing an injury. Since then, Evans was looking for another fight at another event against another opponent.
Does he want to make a case for Alexander Gustafsson being that opponent? White said at the UFC 183 post-fight press conference that "Rashad is hurt", and won't be fighting either Gustafsson or Cormier. But it can never hurt to give a possible top-caliber opponent the needle a bit, does it?