If you predicted in January, 2014, that in one year, Anthony Johnson would be fighting Alexander Gustafsson for the right to face UFC light-heavyweight champ Jon Jones, then you might be a genius.
Sure, Johnson was coming off a knockout win over Mike Kyle and had won six in a row, but “Rumble” hadn’t even returned to the UFC yet. Now, thanks to a decision win over Phil Davis and the quick destruction of Antonio Rogerio Nogueira, Johnson is one of the UFC’s top contenders.
Of course, in order to lock up a bout with Jones, Johnson is going to have to get through the man who provided the champ his toughest test to date. While talking about Gustafsson in a recent interview with UFC.com, Johnson had nothing but praise for “The Mauler”.
“Look man, this guy is underrated. He flies under the radar,” Johnson says. “Even after taking Jon Jones into deep water, people still don’t have the kind of respect for him that he deserves. He’s got top quality trainers, top quality fighting partners, and he’s a top athlete for a reason. Now, do I think I’m going to win, yeah, I do. But do I think it will be easy? Hell no.”
Interesting huh? To hear Johnson say Gustafsson is “underrated.” The Swedish fighter is currently ranked as the #1 contender, but perhaps due to the rise of Daniel Cormier and his beef with Jones, Gustafsson did get glossed over a little bit.
Gustafsson fought Jones in September, 2013, and pushed the champion throughout much of the bout, but lost via unanimous decision.
Although Johnson is expecting a tough battle, evidently he doesn’t see it going the distance.
“If I were to predict when I’m going to win this fight, I would say the third round,” Johnson noted. “I don’t really care how I win, I just want to win. But if it goes to rounds four or five, I’ve got plenty of gas in the tank.”
It’s going to be fascinating to see what goes down today in Stockholm, Sweden. UFC on FOX 14 will be hosted by the city’s Tele2 Arena and will also feature Dan Henderson taking on middleweight Gegard Mousasi.
The card will also feature a pivotal light-heavyweight bout between Ryan Bader and Phil Davis.