Longtime UFC light heavyweight contender Alexander Gustafsson called it a career, retiring in the Octagon at UFC on ESPN+ 11 on Saturday in Stockholm, Sweden. Many fighters were quick to heap praise on the Swedish fighter, including current UFC 205-pound champ Jon Jones, but maybe none were so poignant as current UFC heavyweight champion Daniel Cormier.
"Alex, you will forever be one of the biggest players in my journey. We’ve agreed, we have argued and bickered, but ultimately you made me better. You made the sport better. You are a warrior and will be truly missed!" Cormier wrote in an Instagram post on Sunday.
"I understand the motivation changes and for you it is now your family. I say now you’re starting to really live the good life. Congrats on a great career my man! You’re a hammer! See you around."
Gustafsson headlined UFC on ESPN+ 11 in front of his home country crowd in a hard-fought battle with Anthony Smith. Though the two went back-and-forth for the better part of the fight, Gustafsson eventually succumbed to a rear-naked choke midway through the fourth round.
The loss put his career standing at 18-6. Gustafsson’s career has spanned more than a decade, but despite remaining entrenched at the top of the 205-pound division for years, he was never able to put UFC gold around his waist. He fought for the title on three different occasions, losing once to Cormier and twice to Jones.
After the loss to Smith in Sweden, Gustafsson put his gloves on the floor and said to his fans, “The show is over, guys.”
He later added, “I (fought) because I want to be the best and if I can’t be the best then it is what it is. Now I’ll focus on my kids. I own a gym and have a couple of other projects going on. Let’s see what’s next. I built the life that I wanted, so let’s see what is the next chapter.”