Alexander Gustafsson has had a long time to reflect on things. 'The Mauler', who considered retirement after losing in brutal fashion to Anthony Johnson last year, says his mindset has changed dramatically since sine his split decision loss to current light heavyweight champion Daniel Cormier at UFC 192.
It marked the second time Gustafsson had challenged for the title and the second time he'd fallen short on the scorecards. Prior to 'DC', Gustafsson fought back-and-forth with pound-for-pound #1 Jon Jones in 2013's Fight of the Year and walked away empty handed. To grind day in, day out in the gym and leave it all on the line in the Octagon only to have your dreams crushed has broken many men in the past. But Gustafsson isn't giving up. The dream is still alive.
In an interview with Jim Edwards of Flo Combat, the two-time title challenger said he's found a new-found motivation and firmly believes he has what it takes to capture UFC gold.
"I believe and I know I can beat DC and Jones now," Gustafson said. "I can't wait to show everyone the new and improved Alex. I've been close to being a champion before, but I still believe I've got a lot to learn. That's why I've used this time away from competition to really focus on sharpening all of my skills. I truly believe I've not yet reached my full potential. I've still so much to give, and I'm only 29 years old. I have a good few years left in me and I feel good—actually, I feel great—and I'm ready to go now."
Gustafsson will have a chance to prove his self-determination against Jan Blachowicz, a polish 205-pound contender who is looking to fulfill his own dreams at UFC Fight Night 93.
"I think it's going to be a really good fight actually, and I think Jan is going to be a tough opponent for me," Gustafsson said. "It took them a while to find me someone, and we've been searching someone for quite some time, but for different reasons, none of the top ranked guys could fight, so they've given me an opponent, and he's a familiar one.
"Jan is a guy I have trained with a couple of times, and I know him quite well, and I know he's a good fighter. It's going to be a great card, and this will be a good test for me when I return."
UFC Fight Night 93, which will feature Gustafsson vs. Blachowicz in the co-main event, takes place September 3 at Barclaycard Arena in Hamburg, Germany.