Alexander Lars-Åke “The Mauler” Gustafsson is a Swedish mixed martial artist born on the 15th of January 1987. He fights in the UFC light heavyweight division and has challenged for the title twice.
When Gustafsson was 10 years old he started training boxing and in 2003 he won the youth national championships, just 16 years old. He started training MMA 2006. Between 2008 and 2009 he won a couple of amateur boxing titles, including a win over the Swedish heavyweight boxing champion in an amateur fight.
Alexander Gustafsson also competed in Shootfighting and had a record of 5-1 with 4 wins by KO/TKO. His loss came to countryman Mats Nilsson. He has also competed in submission wrestling and grappling matches, where he is undefeated.
Alexander Gustafsson’s career before the UFC
Alexander Gustafsson made his MMA debut in 2007 at Shooto Finland – Chicago Collision 3 against Saku Heikkola. Gustafsson won by rear naked choke in the 2nd round. Gustafsson won his first 8 professional fights, 6 by KO/TKO, 1 submission and 1 by decision.
The winning streak made the UFC notice him and he made his UFC debut at UFC 105 – Couture vs. Vera.
Alexander Gustafsson in the UFC
Alexander Gustafsson’s UFC debut came against Jared Hamman on the undercard of UFC 105. Gustafsson starched Hamman in less than a minute into the fight.
He lost his next fight against future teammate and former Bellator champion Phil “Mr. Wonderful” Davis due to an anaconda choke in the first round. Gustafsson started training in America with Davis and others at Alliance MMA in San Diego.
He made his return after the defeat to face Cyrille Diabate. After dominating the striker standing, Gustafsson submitted Diabate by rear naked choke in the 2nd round. He credited his success to the training at Alliance MMA.
“The Mauler” won his 2nd straight UFC fight with a rear naked choke defeat of James Te-Huna and TKO’d late replacement Matt Hamill in the first round.
Vladimir Matyushenko was the Swedes third win in a row, Matyushenko dropped by a jab and Gustafsson followed up with punches for the TKO victory in the first round.
Alexander Gustafsson faced Thiago Silva who at the time was one of the most feared light heavyweights in the UFC. He defeated Silva by unanimous decision and UFC President Dana White announced that Gustafsson would face a top ranked fighter next. Gustafsson faced former champion Mauricio “Shogun” Rua in his next fight.
Gustafsson used his reach, size and wrestling to take Rua down and earn a unanimous decision victory.
Alexander Gustafsson vs. Jon Jones for the light heavyweight title
Alexander “The Mauler” Gustafsson faced the face of the UFC and the light heavyweight division especially, Jon “Bones” Jones at UFC 165 in September of 2013. No one gave the Swede a shot to beat the champion. In reality Gustafsson gave Jones his toughest test to date.
Gustafsson was landing with fast hand combinations that cut the champion open in the first round and made his face swell up during the 5-round title fight. Gustafsson also became the first man to take Jones down in his whole career. Gustafsson landed the more effective strikes but the champion Jones was coming forward the whole fight.
In the end Jones won by unanimous decision but Gustafsson’s performance was universally praised. The bout was awarded Fight of the Year 2013. It is to this day considered by many as the best title fight in UFC history and one of the best fights ever.
Gustafsson came back less than a year later and faced future teammate Jimi “Posterboy” Manuwa. He used his wrestling to dominate the striker and secure a TKO from knees and punches in the 2nd round. He got a Fight of the Night and Performance of the Night award for the fight.
He had his 2nd UFC fight at home in Sweden against hard hitter Anthony “Rumble” Johnson. “The Mauler” got knocked out in the first round and the people in Globen, Stockholm was silenced.
Alexander Gustafsson vs. Daniel Cormier
Alexander Gustafsson got his second shot at gold when he faced newly minted champion Daniel “DC” Cormier at UFC 192 in October of 2015. The back and forth fight saw Gustafsson take the olympic medalist wrestler down twice and dropping him with a knee at the end of the third round. In the end Gustafsson lost by split decision but once again his performance was universally praised and he received a Fight of the Night award for his troubles.
Since the title loss to Cormier, Gustafsson has won two straight fights, a decision win over Jan Blachowicz and a 5th round knockout of top ranked Glover Teixeira.
Alexander Gustafsson’s next fight in the UFC
Nothing is confirmed but sources report that the UFC is trying to put together a fight between Alexander Gustafsson and Jon Jones for UFC 218 in Detroit, Michigan.