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Alexander Gustafsson is one of the most intimidating forces in UFC’s light heavyweight division. “The Mauler” has been readying his already world-class strength and cardio for a second crack at the 205-pound title, this time against champion Daniel Cormier at UFC 192.
The Swede hasn’t gave himself much of a brake all summer as he’s spent the better part of the last four months preparing for his fourth straight, 25-minute main event. Gustafsson employs a strength training routine up to four times per week, which includes Olympic-style lifts like the clean and jerk.
His superb strength is a perfect complement to his excellent cardio. Gustafsson has been preparing for five-round fights for the last two years so you know he’s in peak shape for what’s his second crack at gold.
Muscle & Fitness caught up with Gustafsson a week out from his tussle with Cormier to discuss his preparation for the UFC 192 main event.
M&F: What worries you about Cormier?
Alexander Gustafsson: He’s nothing that I’ve fought before. I’ve felt some heavy power, I’ve felt some heavy wrestling so it’s nothing that I haven’t seen or felt before. I’ve had a great camp and I’m pushing my body to new heights. I’m in better shape than I’ve ever been in my life. I’m ready for 25 minutes.
M&F: Has anything changed in your training for 5 rounds?
AG: I’ve been pushing myself more. I always push myself to the limit, but I believe you never reach that limit. You just keep pushing. I’ve never been in this shape before and I’m ready for what’s coming up and DC’s a grinder. He’s known for his conditioning and he comes hard. I’m ready for everything.
M&F: Can you talk about your approach to strength training and how many days a week you train it?
AG: It’s always been a part of my training. We’ve always done strength training. We’re taking it to another level now. Me and Andreas, we work at least three sessions a week. It makes me strong and prevents injuries. You get good structure on your body and when you’re tired you still have structure. It’s an important aspect of our training so we do it a few times per week, three to four times.
M&F: What exercises translate best to Octagon success?
AG: Well, we have basic trainings we do where we lift heavy weights. We often do like Olympic lifts; like deadlifts and clean and jerks and we do pullups with weights. We do the bench and stuff like that. We do circuits so not that heavy but more intense; more like we go all in and then bomb, bomb, bomb then rest for a while bomb, bomb, bomb and rest. We work for an hour. Those are the trainings we mix up. CrossFit is taking our training [laughs].
We’ve been training all summer. I’ve had a 10-12 week camp. I haven’t rested, I’ve just been training the whole summer. The hard part of the camp is done and now we’re here. It’s just maintaining conditioning, physique and the weight cutting.
M&F: What’s your diet like during camp? Is it a strict one?
AG: It’s a little bit chicken, salad and rice. I’m still having rice because my body is going to burn it and to be able to train and this close to the fight, the less carbs I take in.
M&F: Have you thought about winning the title?
AG: Every day. It feels amazing, but I can’t really touch it until I’ve done it and it’s one of those things that’s in front of you. I see myself winning this fight
M&F: What are you goals for the rest of your UFC career?
AG: I want the UFC belt and I want to fight those guys I lost to except Phil Davis. To beat them and get wins over them. It’s tough, I want to beat both of them [Jon Jones] and I will.