When Daniel Cormier decided to jump up to heavyweight to fight Stipe Miocic this July at UFC 226, Alexander Gustafsson all of a sudden lost a would-be opponent. Now that he could potentially be matched up against two of his friends, “The Mauler” is also considering a jump up in weight class.
“I can move up to heavyweight, in the light heavyweight division we have Jon Jones coming back, [Daniel Cormier] who maybe is coming back or maybe not. We’ll see how it all plays out,” Gustafsson told Viaplay Fight Week (transcript by MMA NYTT). “But me and Ilir Latifi will not compete against each other and the same goes for Jimi Manuwa.”
“Heavyweight is also an option. I’m a heavyweight today. I’m actually only a light heavyweight during one day and that’s the weigh-in, after that, I’m a good heavyweight.”
Manuwa, who began training with Gustafsson in October 2014 after they fought in March of that year, is currently at the number four spot in the 205-pound rankings. Fellow Swede fighter Latifi, on the other hand, is currently ranked number five after his big win against Ovince Saint Preux last weekend in Orlando.
Gustafsson is somehow assured that everything will be sorted out, as he keeps his sights set on eventually bagging UFC gold.
“We’re teammates, we are friends — close friends — first and foremost and we won’t fight each other,” Gustafsson said of Latifi and Manuwa. “I want to start our discussion by making it clear that we will not fight each other, so now you all know.”
“It’s a tricky situation, for sure. But I mean, we’ll see what happens. [Daniel Cormier] is now going up to face [Stipe Miocic], Ilir Latifi has heavyweight as a possibility,” he continued. “We’ll sort it out somehow. Of course, we both should be able to dream of the belt and we both should get our chances to fight for the title, but we’ll see how it all turns out when we get there.”
The 31-year-old Gustafsson last fought in May in his home country of Sweden, where he knocked out fellow former title contender Glover Teixeira in the fifth round. Both men took home $50,000 for the Fight of the Night bonus.