MANILA, Philippines – UFC's rising star Alex "The Mauler" Gustafsson believes he'll get knocked out if he is ranged against Filipino boxing icon Manny Pacquiao in a mythical fight.
"I don't know. He'll probably knock me out in the first round," Gustafsson told reporters when someone floated the idea of the mythical boxing fight. "He's a legend."
Gustafsson, who is a former amateur boxing champion in Sweden before jumping to mixed martial arts, liked the idea but said it won't work primarily because of two reasons.
"I don't think it will work. We're in different sports and different (weight) classes," Gustafsson explained, referring to Pacquiao being a welterweight (147 lbs).
The recent Manila visitor, whose stock rose up when he almost beat UFC's light heavyweight champion Jon Jones at UFC 165, respects Pacquiao not only for his boxing skills but also because of his personality.
"I like him more as a person. He's one of a kind. He's a great boxer," said Gustafsson, who owns a record of 15 wins – nine coming off knockouts – against only two losses in the octagon.
His last loss earned him a lot of respect after becoming the first fighter to take Jones down before losing grip of the fight in the latter rounds.
"I feel really comfortable. My last loss was not because of my wrestling," said Gustafsson, countering criticisms about his lack of wrestling skills. "I did not do enough of everything (to win the fight)."
But while he is trying to improve on his ground game, Gustafsson said that won't take away his boxing style.
"My boxing is with me all my life. Boxing is my passion," said Gustafsson of the sport that endeared him to the boxing loving Filipinos.
He showcased his boxing techniques and other MMA skills in an open training last Sunday at the Trinoma Activity center aside from visiting boxing gyms in the metropolis.
Gustafsson is set to fight undefeated Jimi Manuwa, who replaced the injured Antonio Rogeiro Nogueira. A win will prime him up for another title shot, which he promised will be a different story if given the opportunity.