Anthony Johnson thinks Alexander Gustafsson got a raw deal at UFC 165. | Dave Mandel/Sherdog.com
A No. 1 contender spot will be on the line when Anthony Johnson faces Alexander Gustafsson in the UFC on Fox 14 headliner on Jan. 24.
Johnson’s opponent might have been different had Gustafsson been able to defeat Jon Jones in their memorable light heavyweight title bout at UFC 165 in September 2013. Although he didn’t get the win, the fight was a breakthrough for the Swede, who achieved newfound respect in giving Jones the most difficult test of his career.
Many observers felt that Gustafsson deserved to get the nod on the scorecards that night. Johnson was one of them.
“I thought [Gustfasson] won. Whenever they announced that Jones won, I was shocked,” Johnson said at a pre-fight press conference in Stockholm. “I actually thought Alexander won. But you can’t win them all. When you’re fighting the champion, you definitely have to put him away. And it was a really close fight but I still think that he did enough.... but that’s just how the dice rolled.”
While Johnson himself has never been on the wrong end of a questionable decision in his professional mixed martial arts career -- he is 6-0 in bouts that go the distance -- he recognizes the importance of taking the fight out of the judges’ hands. In fact, “Rumble” seems to have very little regard for the people who score the fights at cageside.
“That’s why you never get it in the judges’ hands because you just never know what’s going to happen,” he said. “Most judges aren’t fighters anyway. I think they’re just there to enjoy the fight; they don’t really pay attention to what’s really going on. The way these judges are making calls these days, it’s ridiculous. That’s my own two cents.”
Instead, Jones’ title reign has continued; the Jackson-Wink MMA standout is currently at seven defenses and counting following a lopsided unanimous verdict over Glover Teixeira in April. Up next is a highly-anticipated matchup with Olympic wrestler Daniel Cormier at UFC 182. Johnson will be pulling for Cormier -- but not out of any animosity toward Jones. He’d just like to see a fresh face at the top.
“I want Daniel Cormier to win just to shake up the division a little bit, but he is fighting Jones so that’s going to be tough to do. I’m picking Daniel to win just because I want him to shake up the division – give people something different to talk about,” Johnson said. “[Jones is] a beast. He’s the best in the world; he’s the best ever at 205. He definitely has my respect. Everybody at 205 has my respect. It would be nice for a change to hear another name.”