Photos: MMAnytt / Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

Alexander Gustafsson talks gym fight with Fabricio Werdum: “I won”

✔ "The Mauler" opens up about the notorious sparring session he had with Werdum ✔ "We have a bit of a past"

Swedish star Alexander Gustafsson is set to make his return against former heavyweight champ Fabricio Werdum – Though they already faced off in an intense gym fight many years ago. 

Earlier this month, Combate confirmed reports from sources to MMAnytt which proved to be the biggest story in Swedish combat sports. Three time title challenger Alexander Gustafsson will return, making his heavyweight debut against former divisional champion Fabricio Werdum. It’s a high-stakes bout that will do much for the winner, though there is already some precedence for what could transpire.

Sources to MMAnytt have divulged stories of a notorious sparring session between Gustafsson and Werdum. Supposedly the sparring was so intense that the source called it a “gym fight”, and Gustafsson more or less confirmed what the sources said.

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“I’ve sparred with Werdum, actually, ten years ago. It was at Mark Muñoz’ gym in Los Angeles. He was champion then, and he was fit. It was a strong version of Werdum then. I’d had a fight two weeks after, and we went at it hard. I’d say that I won that sparring. So we have a bit of a past,” Gustafsson told MMAnytt’s Ashah Tafari.

Based on what MMAnytt’s sources have said, it was not a run of the mill sparring session. According to sources Werdum was using knees to the head and the sparring was intense and violent, something Gustafsson confirms.

“Yeah he came in with knees to the head. But we both went all in. It was good sparring.

“I won that sparring. It was kind of fun,” Gustafsson clarified with a smile.

Gustafsson retired circa a year ago following a submission loss to Anthony Smith in Stockholm. Since then Gustafsson has hinted at a comeback on numerous occasions, citing intense emotions as a reason for his retirement. That bout followed a TKO loss to rival Jon Jones in Gustafsson’s third attempt at winning a UFC title. Werdum is also coming off of two straight losses; most recently a split decision loss to Aleksei Oleinik at UFC 249.

The heavyweight bout between Gustafsson and Werdum takes place at Fight Island, Abu Dhabi, July 25th.

What do you make of the “gym fight” story Alexander Gustafsson tells of Fabricio Werdum?

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With roots in muay thai and as an avid combat sports fan, Sebastian Vendel-Martinez grew up while the MMA scene was blossoming in Sweden. He became part of the MMAnytt team in 2012 and has gone on to become one of the most prominent MMA reporters in Scandinavia. Currently he continues to work as a writer, reporter, video producer/editor and head editor for