In just over a month, Alexander Gustafsson will make his long-awaited move up to heavyweight.
The former title challenger meets former UFC heavyweight king Fabricio Werdum on the main card of the July 25 Fight Island event in Abu Dhabi.
The move comes after Gustafsson announced his retirement last year following his submission loss to Anthony Smith. However, the hunger is now back for “The Mauler” who felt the move to heavyweight was something that he needed to do eventually.
“I’m pretty big at light heavyweight and I always have to cut maybe 15 to 17 kilos every fight,” Gustafsson told MMA Viking. “So I just wanted to challenge myself a little bit. See how all this will be.
“I’m eating pasta now, I’m feeling good, I weigh 107 kilos. I never felt so strong. I’m still keeping my skills as a light heavyweight, but I’m just feeling stronger.”
Gustafsson: I Have To Be Sharp Against Werdum
Werdum is not an easy debut fight whatsoever, even if he did look poor in his last outing.
The Brazilian returned after over two years out at UFC 249 last month where he fought Aleksei Oleinik to a split decision loss. Werdum notably looked slower with a bit more pounds on him, but still had his moments in the fight and that is why Gustafsson doesn’t plan on underestimating him.
“He was terrible,” Gustafsson said of Werdum’s last fight. “I think it was a terrible fight. With that said, Aleksei is a tough guy he fought. But Fabricio can take a punch, he can take damage and he just keeps coming forward. He’s a legit black belt and he has really good single leg takedowns. He comes in with strange kicks and knees.
“He’s a guy I need to prepared for and aware of those tricks. Because even if it feels like you have him, he comes with something so I have to be aware of that and be sharp.”
An impressive win over a former UFC heavyweight champion could insert Gustafsson right into the rankings.
You can watch the full interview below: