UFC light-heavyweight champion Daniel Cormier has backed himself to win any stand-up exchanges with Alexander Gustafsson when they face off at UFC 192 on October 3.
Cormier, who represented the USA in freestyle wrestling at the 2008 Beijing Olympics, is known to secure his victories by completing takedowns or forcing opponents onto the fence.
However, the American Kickboxing Academy team member says he would happily go toe to toe with the Swedish striking specialist.
“I believe I can box with Alexander Gustafsson. There are ways to win fights, and sometimes you don’t always choose the easiest way to win. If it’s a boxing fight with Alex, I can hold my own,” he told the UFC website.
“I believe I’ll be able to get on the inside with him. I believe that my hands are just as fast, if not faster, and I believe that I’ll hit with more power than he does. If it’s a stand-up fight, sure, why not? I’d enjoy that.”
Cormier won the vacant light-heavyweight title when he knocked out Anthony Johnson; arguably the division’s best striker and definitely the post powerful.
Gustafsson also faced Johnson in his last outing but went on to suffer a technical knockout loss just over two minutes into the first round.
“It was a tough time in my career. It was tough to take, but it’s been my motivation since that time. I got back on my feet quite fast,” Gustafsson said of the defeat.
“It took me a couple of weeks, and I’ve been training since then. I’ve been working my ass off the whole summer and correcting what I’m missing in my game. I’m feeling like a much better fighter today.”
The Swede’s only previous title bout was against the previous champion Jon Jones in September 2013 and finished Jones, winning via unanimous decision.
Gustafsson says he is ready for whatever Cormier can throw at him in his second crack at the title.
“It’s going to be a battle for sure. I’ve done my homework, and I’m not surprised if DC wants to stand up with me. But at the same time, I’m not afraid of his wrestling,” he said
“The fight is 25 minutes long, and if he takes me down, he takes me down. I’m ready for whatever comes.”