UFC 232: Alexander Gustafsson Ramps up His Mental Game

Alexander Gustafsson is nowhere close to the likes of Conor McGregor, Michael Bisping or Chael Sonnen in terms of slinging trash talk. But “The Mauler” has ramped up his mental game as he gets set to fight Jon Jones for a second time.

In recent months, the rivalry between Jones and Gustafsson has hit a new level. The light-heavyweights have traded plenty of verbal shots since they battled back in 2013, but more recently, Gustafsson has said he doesn’t think much of “Bones'” as a person. Leading up to UFC 232, Gustafsson has argued Jones didn’t, in fact, beat him in their first fight. Then, after the former champ’s atypical drug test result became public just a few days ago, Gustafsson was quick to pile on Jones.

Well, at the pre-fight presser yesterday for UFC 232, the rivals traded verbal jabs again (quotes via MMA Junkie):

“Yes, I do (believe he’s a cheater),” Gustafsson said. “Yes I do. This guy is not confident. He has to put (expletive) in his body to be confident. That’s all it is.”

“It’s good that you actually believe that a microscopic (picogram) has allowed me to be more confident,” Jones said in response. “I’m glad that you believe that.”

“It won’t help you this time,” Gustafsson said. “There’s illegal stuff in your body. … Whatever this guy’s saying, it’s just bull(expletive). He’s terrible. It’s just terrible. He’s terrible. I’m here to fight.

“Whatever this guy is saying, you can’t take it serious. He’s just terrible. He is terrible. He will eat it. He will eat it on Saturday night. I’m telling you. He will eat everything on Saturday night.”

Now, Jones did accuse Gustafsson of repeating himself at Thursday’s presser, and as noted above, it’s not like the latter was throwing out zingers that are going to be endlessly shared out via social media. Further, we don’t really know if any of this will have an adverse effect on Jones come fight night. In fact, maybe Gustafsson is just providing Jones with more fodder to remain focused on the task at hand.

But, it certainly seems like Gustafsson’s trying to get into Jones’ head leading up to their rematch, and cast doubt in the renowned fighter’s mind. Note the comment about Jones’ confidence, in relation to his accusation that the former champ knowingly took performance-enhancing drugs.

It will be really interesting to see what Gustafsson says about Jones, following their bout on Saturday. Will he take anything he’s said back?

UFC 232 will be hosted by The Forum in Inglewood (Los Angeles), California.

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