The UFC has announced that Alexander Gustafsson has been pulled out of his bout with Jon Jones at UFC 178 after suffering a knee injury.
Former US team Olympic wrestler Daniel Cormier will replace Gustafsson. Cormier is unbeaten in 15 fights with 6 knockouts and 5 submissions.
He started his career at heavyweight, but since training with UFC heavyweight champion Cain Velasquez, the former Oklahoma State wrestler has moved down to the light heavyweight division to avoid clashing with his training partner and good friend. Cormier is 2-0 as a light heavyweight with both victories via stoppage. He is coming off a third round rear naked choke submission win over the legendary Dan Henderson at UFC 173 last May.
Cormier also owns victories over top heavyweights Roy Nelson, Frank Mir, Josh Barnett and Antonio Silva. The win over Barnett was for the Strikeforce Heavyweight Grand Prix tournament in 2012.
Gustaffson said that he was “obviously disappointed.” He had been asking for a rematch with Jon Jones immediately after UFC 165 last September where they fought in what many consider to be the best light heavyweight title bout of all-time. Jones won the back and forth match by unanimous decision although some fight experts believe that Gustafsson had equally done enough to beat Jones.
The Swede said that he tore the meniscus in his right knee while training last week. Gustafsson said that he felt the knee pop twice while doing his regular sparring sessions. When he woke up the following day, he could barely walk and he immediately knew it was the knee. His doctors said that the injury would require surgery and would need at least six weeks to heal. There is no timetable for the return of Gustafsson.
Not Quite Human
Jon Jones ( 20-1, 9 KOs and 6 submissions) has defended the light heavyweight title a record seven times. He is coming off an impressive five round unanimous decision win over the hard hitting Glover Texiera at UFC 172 last April. Jones has looked every bit the “Not Quite Human” shirt he wears during his walkouts except for the fight against Gustafsson where he needed the fifth and final round to secure the win and keep his title.
Before UFC 178 was finalized, Jones and the UFC were at odds at the schedule of the rematch with Gustafsson. Some were saying that he was trying to duck Gustafsson after the troubles he had with the Swedish Mauler in their first fight. But Jones cited personal reasons to counter those claims.
Can’t Run Away Forever
While Cormier previously admitted that he was willing to wait in line to get a shot at Jones and his belt, he called out the champion after his last fight by telling Jones “You can’t run away forever.” Cormier also said that Jones “better hurry because he is getting better.”
But Jones seems ready for Cormier. In fact, before the bout with Gustafsson was set, he was telling the UFC that Cormier was more deserving of a title shot than Gustafsson. Jones pointed out to Cormier’s unbeaten record and his status as the Former Strikeforce tournament champion as the reasons why he should be given the title shot over Gustafsson.