Alexander Gustafsson earns No. 1 contender spot, Cyrille Diabate retires
Most people figured Alexander Gustafsson would become No. 1 contender for the light heavyweight title if he won Saturday. UFC president Dana White eliminated all doubt.
White said in the UFC Fight Night London post-fight press conference that Gustafsson would be next for either Jon Jones or Glover Teixeira, depending on who wins their bout April 26 at UFC 172 in Baltimore. White specifically said Gustafsson was next regardless if Jones or Teixeira win after his second-round knockout of Jimi Manuwa.
"Obviously, if Jones wins we have a nasty rematch," White said. "If he doesn’t, then it’s [Gustafsson] and Glover Teixiera."
Jones and Gustafsson put on arguably the 2013 Fight of the Year back in September. It was a back-and-forth affair that many people thought Gustafsson actually won. After the fight with Manuwa, Gustafsson called Jones out. He did the same thing in the press conference.
I want to fight him and I want to finish him.
-Alexander Gustafsson on Jon Jones
"I want to fight him and I want to finish him," Gustafsson said.
The UFC announced it would be headed back to Gustafsson’s home country of Sweden in October. But White said that wasn’t done with any intention of having Gustafsson challenge for the light heavyweight belt there. That card is likely to be on UFC Fight Pass, much like this London one was. Gustafsson’s title shot will probably come on pay-per-view.
White was extremely impressed with Gustafsson’s performance overall against Manuwa.
"Absolute beast and he’s the biggest star in Europe right now," White said.
DIABATE BOWS OUT GRACEFULLY
Cyrille Diabate announced earlier this week that Saturday would be his final time fighting in the UFC. He wasn’t able to go out a winner, losing by submission in the first round to Ilir Latifi. But he was classy in the post-fight press conference, imparting his intentions to do other things in his life and not just MMA. Diabate said he wants to start a fight team in central Paris and also dabble in acting.
"I’ve had a fantastic career," the France native said. I’ve enjoyed myself. That’s the main part. That’s it. It’s time to move on. I’ve got plans."
The 40-year-old Diabate (19-10-1) finished an even 4-4 in his UFC career that started in 2010. Overall, he had spent 22 years in combat sports. At his best, he was a dangerous, rangy kickboxer with knockout power.
"I was at the top in kickboxing and Muay Thai," Diabate said. "I switched to MMA at one point in my career and I reached the top. I fought in PRIDE and I fought in UFC. Who could do better?"
After that answer, Diabate received an ovation from those gathered at the press conference.
I fought in PRIDE and I fought in UFC. Who could do better?
Notes: It was a "very, very big night" for the UFC, per Dana White. The president announced the card at the O2 Arena sold out in 36 hours and was seen live in 178 countries on UFC Fight Pass. The attendance was 14,605 and the gate was a shade over $2 million. … White said Brad Pickett’s win over Neil Seery put him "in great position" for a potential flyweight title shot against Demetrious Johnson. … White is "confident" Conor McGregor will be on the Ireland card July 19. Cole Miller has been his rumored opponent. … The UFC will return to London on Feb. 28, 2015, White announced. … Gustafsson and Manuwa expressed interest in training together.