UFC Fight Island 3’s Alexander Gustafsson: Win or Lose, “I’m Here to Stay”

Admitting that his retirement last year came in an emotional moment, Alexander Gustafsson confirmed Tuesday that he’s here to stay.

In the UFC, that is. As to in what division his future lies, well, that’s another matter.

“The Mauler” — who had three shots at the UFC’s light heavyweight title — spoke to media outlets including Cageside Press in a virtual media scrum ahead of UFC Fight Island 3. That card will witness his return, and his promotional debut in the heavyweight division. Against former heavyweight champion Fabricio Werdum.

Win or lose, “I’m here to stay,” Gustafsson (18-6) said Tuesday. The decision to return came “after a month or two, around about that” after his retirement, he recalled. “Then I wanted to go back to training, and I can’t train without motivation. So now I’m here.”

But as a heavyweight. And against a former champion, one he called a legend. On the move up, Gustafsson suggested that “it was the right time for me to move up one weight class, because I’m pretty heavy, and pretty big. So it felt really good to step up one weight class and try out the heavyweight division. Then I got the fight with Werdum, and it was just something that fit me very well and I felt very excited about.”

Whether he sticks around the UFC’s largest weight class, or drops back to 205lbs, is something he’ll settle on later, however. “I’ll challenge myself, and then see how it goes,” said Gustafsson. “I will win of course, but let’s see how I feel about it.”

As for what he expects to weight come fight night, “about 107, 108 kilos,” he predicted. At least 235lbs, in other words.

Alexander Gustafsson meets Fabricio Werdum on the main card of UFC Fight Island 3 (UFC on ESPN 14) this Saturday, July 25. The card airs live on ESPN (TSN in Canada).