UFC brass is looking to get a fight for Alexander Gustafsson this year after the former multi-time light heavyweight title challenger was unable to compete at UFC 227 this month.Gustafsson (18-4 MMA, 10-4 UFC) was originally targeted to fight Luke Rockhold at the Aug. 4 event in Los Angeles. When that didn’t materialize, a bout against Volkan Oezdemir was set up for the card. After Oezdemir withdrew, there was some talk about inserting Anthony Smith, but before anything could be finalized, Gustafsson was officially removed from the card.Although Gustafsson later stated it was a “minor injury” that forced him off the card, UFC President Dana White revealed it was actually rather serious. “The Mauler” apparently has been rehabbing a hamstring injury, and the UFC boss is hopeful he will be cleared for an octagon return this year.“It wasnt a minor injury; he actually had a serious injury to his hamstring,” White told the “UFC Unfiltered” podcast, with hosts Jim Norton and Matt Serra. “He doesnt have to do surgery. Hes doing physical therapy, and were hoping he can come back before the end of the year. He was hurt, a legitimate injury, and hes working on it. Were trying to get him in before the end of the year.Gustafsson, 31, is No. 5 in the latest USA TODAY Sports/MMAjunkie MMA light heavyweight rankings. However, he hasnt fought since a May 2017 win over Glover Teixeira at UFC Fight Night 109.
In the same statement released at the time of his UFC 227 withdrawal, Gustafsson’s team said he would be willing to fight anyone in the division for his return, so long as it was a meaningful matchup.For more on the UFC schedule, check out the UFC Rumors section of the site.