With two UFC fights already under his belt, Alexander Gustafsson will look to deliver a career-defining performance in London on Saturday when he takes on veteran striker Cyrille Diabate. UFC.com’s Darragh Creamer recently had the opportunity to talk to “The Mauler”.
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Thanks for taking the time to do this interview during your fight prep. Before we talk about specifics, can you tell us a little about your background in martial arts and MMA?
AG: I started to train MMA in August 2006 and I came from boxing.
Have you competed in other sports or martial arts?
AG: Yes in amateur boxing.
What would you say are your greatest strengths and weaknesses?
AG: My greatest strength is my striking and my biggest weakness is wrestling I would say.
Only one of your fights has ever gone the distance, is that something you're proud of?
AG: No, I would love to go the distance; I think it would be good experience for me.
How is your preparation going?
AG: My preparation is going really well; I'm in the best shape I have ever been.
What sort of things do you feel you need to be aware of against Diabaté?
AG: Keep my chin down and my guard up.
What do you think is your greatest advantage or disadvantage against Cyrille?
AG: My biggest advantages are my aggression and my intensity. We will just have to see if I have any disadvantages.
You're coming off a UFC loss; does that add to the pressure going into the fight?
AG: I don’t feel any pressure going into this fight; I will go all in and do my best to win.
How is the UFC different to fighting in other events?
AG: It is completely different. UFC are professionals.
Since you arrived at the UFC, has it changed anything in your training or in life in general?
AG: Yes. I see my training as a job now. Everything that I do is designed to make my training better.
How does it feel fighting another European on a major UFC fight card?
AG: It feels very good. I can’t wait to get in there.
You represent a younger generation of European MMA fighters. What do you think is different for young fighters like you than for guys like Cyrille, who started before the sport was well established?
AG: We are much better at adapting to the fight than the older generation.
When you started fighting, did you expect to be fighting in the UFC at only 23-years old?
AG: I started fighting in 2006 and no I didn’t. (Smiles)
Do you think that MMA in Europe has caught up with fighters from the US, Brazil and other countries?