By: Adnan Awan
Alexander Gustafsson is coming out of retirement.
Gustafsson (18-6 MMA, 10-6 UFC) is moving up to heavyweight where he is set to face former UFC heavyweight champion Fabricio Werdum (23-9-1 MMA, 11-6 UFC). The bout is scheduled to take place on July 25 at the UFC’s Fight Island facility.
Gustafsson last appeared in the Octagon in May 2019 against Anthony Smith at UFC on ESPN +11 in his native Sweden. Gustafsson announced his retirement in the cage that night after being submitted via rear-naked choke in the 4th round. During his UFC career, Gustafsson was considered a top ten light heavyweight, with notable wins over Glover Texeria, Jan Blachowicz, Jimi Manua, and Shogun Rua. He competed for the UFC light heavyweight title three times, coming up short each time; twice to Jon Jones and once to Daniel Cormier. This will be his first foray into the heavyweight division.
Fabricio Werdum returned to action in May 2020 at UFC 249 where he lost a split decision to Aleksei Oleinik. Werdum was suspended for 18 months by USADA after an out of competition urine test revealed the steroid trenbolone. Werdum is a former UFC heavyweight champion and holds notable wins over Fedor Emelianenko, Cain Velasquez, Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira, and Mark Hunt. The July 25th date is a fast turnaround for Werdum as it comes 11 weeks after his UFC 249 return.
Ovince St Preux (24-14 MMA, 12-9 UFC) is the backup fighter for Fabricio Werdum. St Preux is also a former light heavyweight who moved up to the heavyweight division. He was successful in his heavyweight debut, winning a split decision against Ben Rothwell at UFC Fight Night: Smith vs Teixeira.
Fabricio Werdum stands 6’4” tall and has a 77-inch reach. Gustafsson is taller; he stands 6’5” tall and has a longer reach – 79 inches. Werdum is the older of the two at 42 years of age compared to 33 years for Gustafsson.
We will see how the change to heavyweight affects “the mauler” next month on July, 25th.