The rumors of Alexander Gustafsson’s status for his main event against Gegard Mousasi on Saturday night in Stockholm have varied so wildly over the last few days, the story grew nearly as tiresome on social media as all the awful attempts at April Fools’ pranks.
Here are the facts:
Gustafsson, a top light heavyweight contender, suffered a severe cut during training, and several media outlets in Sweden reported he would be unable to fight in his hometown this week on the UFC on Fuel TV 9 card.
Ultimate Fight Championship officials confirmed the injury, but insist Gustafsson will fight. The language barrier between Swedish media accounts and much of the stateside media has caused confusion on the Internet since reports first surfaced early Sunday.
Las Vegan Wanderlei Silva further complicated things Monday afternoon by tweeting that he had been contacted by the UFC about potentially filling in for Gustafsson.
Of course, Monday was April 1. Silva could not be reached to clarify whether he was being serious or taking advantage of the situation to participate in April Fools’ Day.
UFC president Dana White confirmed to the Review-Journal he planned for the fight to go on as scheduled.
“The Gus fight is on!” he stated in a text message.
The UFC isn’t likely to have final say, however. In the end, it will be up to the Swedish MMA Federation whether or not Gustafsson is cleared to fight.
The event airs live on Fuel TV (Cable 318) at 11 a.m. Saturday.
■ COUTURE EYES UFC DEBUT — Las Vegan Ryan Couture will make his UFC debut at age 30 Saturday against Ross Pearson.
If that seems too old to start in the organization, consider his father Randy was 33 when he started his Hall of Fame career.
The younger Couture has the advantage of experience, something Randy didn’t have in his first mixed martial arts fight at a UFC event in 1997.
Randy went on to fight for almost 14 years, so Ryan, who has built a 6-1 record in Strikeforce, doesn’t seem to be in a hurry.
“I’ve got a finite amount of time to get things done, but … I don’t have a lot of pressure to feel like I need to be in a title fight by such and such age or within a certain amount of fights or whatever,” Couture said before leaving for Sweden, where he will fight Saturday. “Obviously, that’s the ultimate goal, to compete for the UFC title, but I realize I have a lot of work to do between now and then, and I’m in no rush.
“I just want to go out every fight and improve and just keep picking up wins.”
That won’t be easy against Pearson, a talented striker who is coming off a big win over George Sotiropoulos. Couture welcomes the challenge.
“I don’t think there’s such thing as a tuneup fight in the UFC, and coming off a win over KJ Noons, I don’t see this as anything but a logical progression,” he said. “I’ve got a ton of respect for Ross. He’s an excellent fighter and I’ve always enjoyed watching him fight. There’s almost no chance this isn’t a crowd-pleaser, which is nice.”
While reaching the UFC is a major accomplishment, Couture is far from content.
“It’s a really exciting opportunity for me,” he said. “I won’t be able to fully enjoy it, though, until I get that first UFC win, so that comes next week.”
■ CHAMP FINALLY SUBMITS — UFC light heavyweight champion Jon Jones made sure his Easter Sunday would be memorable when he proposed to his longtime girlfriend, Jessie Moses.
Jones, 25, posted a photo on Twitter of himself on one knee in front of Jessie with their two oldest daughters in the foreground. Soon after, he posted a picture of the couple kissing, apparently indicating she said yes.
“Feels so good right now! Ready to man up!!” the caption read.
The couple has three children together, and Jones often has talked about soon changing his girlfriend’s last name.
Jones is preparing to defend his belt against Chael Sonnen in the main event of UFC 159 in Newark, N.J., on April 27.
Contact reporter Adam Hill at firstname.lastname@example.org or 702-224-5509. Follow him on Twitter: @adamhilllvrj.