Alexander Gustafsson faces a stiff test this coming Sunday afternoon, taking on Glover Teixeira in the main event of UFC Fight Night 109.
And it grew even tougher when officials decided to place the bout in Stockholm, Sweden to help promote “The Mauer” even more.
Why, you might ask, is that a bad thing?
In 2015, Gustafsson was coming off a key second round finish of Jimi Manuwa that had him right there to challenge then-champion Jon Jones for a second time. Instead, he stepped inside the Octagon to meet Anthony Johnson after almost an entire year off and was decimated in just over two minutes.
Gustafsson was fighting that night for his standing in the light heavyweight division, himself and the thousands of Swedes that packed the Ericsson Arena.
Now, two-plus years later, he returns to the scene of that horrific night to face a nasty Brazilian with heavy hands.
Gustafsson is just 30 years old, so his days competing at 205 pounds among the elite are nowhere near finished. But if he can’t figure out Teixeira, he might find himself moving quickly down the ladder.
After the loss to Johnson, UFC officials granted Gustafsson a shot at Daniel Cormier for the title later that year with the list of challengers coming up a little on the short side. “DC” defended, and Gustafsson again rebounded by besting Jan Blachowicz.
But there seems to be a move to create more contenders at 205 pounds, and that might mean without the big Swede.
Gustafsson’s appeal has always been high, especially internationally, but if he wishes to remain talked about with Jones and Cormier, he must rise up and send his country folk home happy this weekend.