"[Itís] not serious at all," he told Ariel Helwani. "Itís actually one of the easiest knee injuries you could have. Itís a very easy operation, it takes maybe 15-20 minutes. The recovery time is just a few weeks, and you can walk home from the surgery. Itís not a big deal at all. The thing is, itís one of those things where itís a small problem that can get very big if you donít do anything about it.
"For me to have a 10-12 week camp against Jones, I need to be 100 percent. I canít go into that cage knowing that something is hurting. I need to be 100 percent. We decided that I needed to have that operation."
Gustafsson will long be ready to resume training by the end of August, if all goes as planned, in plenty of time to wait out the Cormier-Jones winner. It gets a little complicated, though, Should Cormier dethrone Jones, that opens up a set of new uncertainties. Cormier himself opted to forego surgery on his own knee, and that procedure still looms at a point in the future. And with Jones having defended his 205-pound title seven consecutive times, a loss would almost certainly mandate an immediate rematch.
Therefore, it makes sense that Gustafsson would pull for Jones to continue his streak against Cormier, just to avoid any muddying of the waters. When asked if he would be rooting for Jones, Gustafsson chuckled, before admitting he would.
"No respect to DC, I think heís a very great opponent and a great athlete, I think heís a very tough fighter and a hard-working guy, but I believe Jones will win the fight," he said. "Iím actually hoping that he will win the fight because if Iím going to take the belt from anybody I want it to be Jones."
Gustafsson and Jones fought at UFC 165 this past September in Toronto. The fight was an instant classic, with Gustafsson not only thwarting early takedown attempts by Jones, but also becoming the first man to take Jones down in the Octagon. It was a bloody back-and-forth battle that Jones ultimately won on the scorecards. Gustafsson has long maintained that he won the fight, and he and Jones have gone back-and-forth on the topic through social media since then.
With the heat between Cormier and Jones intensifying, Gustafsson will now be forced to wait and see how things play out. He says he hasnít been guaranteed a shot at Jones next, even if Jones wins, but thatís the only scenario heís thinking of.
"Not in those words exactly, but I see myself fighting Jones," he said. "Thatís what I want. Nothing else. Thatís what I want. Iím not saying anything else, and Iím really, really hoping that I get my chance. I will do my operation, and Iíll have my few weeks of rehab, and Iím going to come back stronger than ever. When my knee is healed, Iím going to be 100 percent. Iím going to be better than ever. Iím really hoping that I get my title. I want my title."
Gustafsson has had to defeat Jimi Manuwa to get his return bout with Jones, and itís been nearly a year in the making. Jones defeated Glover Teixeira at UFC 172 in April to set up the rematch. Though he said he tried to push through it, when Gustafsson realized his injured right knee was hindering his training he made the very difficult decision to call Joe Silva and bow out of the fight.
"It was very hard for me, [the Jonesí rematch was] something that Iíve wanted so long," he said. "Everyone wanted to see that fight. I wanted to have that fight again. Thatís the only fight Iím thinking about, even today. I want to fight Jones again for the title. I know I can beat him. I know I have the tools to beat him. I know I can take that belt. So it was very hard for me not having that fight."