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Alexander Gustafsson reflects on loss to Jon Jones: I felt the worst pain of my career in that fight

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Alexander Gustafsson goes into detail on his loss to Jon Jones at UFC 232.

Like most sequels, Alexander Gustafsson’s championship rematch against Jon Jones failed to live up to the hype of their original Fight of the Night and Fight of the Year epic at UFC 165.

This time, ‘The Mauler’ found himself on the receiving end of a mauling in the UFC 232 main event at Inglewood’s The Forum, a stark contrast to his gutsy performance against ‘Bones’ in 2013, which saw Gustafsson go the distance in a five-round, technical slugfest at the Air Canada Centre in Toronto.

Gustafsson suffered a groin injury early in the rematch and, while not one to make excuses, the Swede said he had never felt pain like that in his entire career and was thus unable to fend off Jones’ ruthless ground-and-pound attack in round three.

“I just didn’t perform like I used to,” Gustafsson said on a recent edition of The MMA Hour. “I didn’t have the footwork going. And I have no excuses, it’s not that. It’s just like, after when he got me with that knee, I couldn’t really find the rhythm again. I just, I couldn’t move like I did before. I just had a lot of pain after that, and I’ve never had that type of pain in my career before in a fight. Of course, you have pain, you get shots from everywhere and you get back, you just keep pushing. But he just stopped me right there, and I tried to move, work it with my footwork, try to kick him or attack, be explosive. But none of that worked. I just couldn’t with my groin.

“So that’s basically it, and he took me down. Nobody can hold me down. Nobody can hold me down. Not DC, not Jon. Nobody. When he took me down there and when he finished me, I couldn’t move because of my groin. He just passed, he just went to half guard and just went up and did the crucifix stuff on me — and nobody does that to me. I wasn’t 100 percent. I just felt that I had so much pain in my groin that I couldn’t really get back into my rhythm again. And with that said, I don’t use this as an excuse or anything like that. He did what he had to do to beat me, and Jon is the best guy out there, so I don’t feel like I’m thinking about that loss nowadays. It is what it is and I just move forward now.”

With all that said, Gustafsson has moved on from the loss and looks forward to springing back into the winners column against Anthony ‘Lionheart’ Smith at UFC Fight Night 153.

“I actually wanted to fight earlier than this, but this was just the next one for me,” Gustafsson said. “So, I’m in training, I’ve been training for a while now and I had some time off after the Jones fight and I just healed up, and now I’m ready to go. And it’s in my hometown too, so it can’t be better than this. All the other shows [at the Ericsson Globe] have been a success.

“[Smith] just had a fight, he’s in shape, and he showed some heart in his last fight with Jon, so I think it’s a good matchup for the fans and they will see a really good fight. He has some good skills on his feet and good grappling too, so I’m looking forward to it.”

The event takes place next month, June 1, at the Ericsson Globe in Stockholm, Sweden.