The saga between UFC light heavyweight champion Daniel Cormier and perennial contender Alexander Gustafsson seems like it could rage on forever.
That’s a pretty impressive tenure for a rivalry, especially considering the two have only fought once. And according to Cormier, that will be the only time they ever fight.
After becoming a two-division champion following his UFC 226 win over Stipe Miocic, Cormier’s schedule has become a lot busier. He’s now the owner of two championships and given he has long expressed his desire to retire before turning 40 in early 2019, his time for defenses is limited.
All signs point to Cormier’s next opponent being Brock Lesnar. This has led to some confusion about what will become of the 205-pound title scene. Gustafsson has long been considered one of the top contenders in the class, winning rounds against Cormier and Jon Jones, though he would ultimately come up short in both title bids.
That hasn’t stopped Gustafsson from throwing his name back in the running for a title shot. Now he has been coming off a long period of inactivity, leading many to believe he would need at least one win to get back to title contention.
Gustafsson was scheduled to face Volkan Oezdemir at UFC 227. Oezdemir was forced to withdraw due to injury, and after Anthony Smith stopped Mauricio Rua in the first round and called out Gustafsson, Gustafsson withdrew from the card citing a “minor injury.”
Cormier addressed Gustafsson on Twitter, calling him both “entitled” and “delusional” for requesting a title shot given the circumstances. Cormier told him the two wouldn’t share the Octagon again, though he did express gratitude for the chance to face Gustafsson back in 2015.
Cormier noted that Gustafsson’s behavior had seemed to change over the past several years. He admonished him for calling out Luke Rockhold a day after Rockhold was knocked out, for seemingly ducking Khalil Rountree, and even for asking for a heavyweight title shot despite never fighting in the division.
Cormier said: “I respect you as a fighter. I will always be grateful for October 2015, but you and I won’t share the octagon again. I’m disappointed in who you’ve become. You are so entitled, man, I can’t deal with delusional people.”
But Gustafsson’s management gave a different perspective in their response. They claimed that Gustafsson was pulled from the card by doctors, despite trying to stay on. They also said he was ready to face Rountree, Cormier, or any other opponent, in either division, ranked or unranked. They noted that Gustafsson had been pulled from the card the Friday before Smith fought, making him unable to accept the callout either way.
In any case, the situation doesn’t bode well for Gustafsson’s title chances. There is somewhat of an upside, as the current state of the division is lackluster and this it wouldn’t take him long at all to work his way back to a title shot with a win or two.