When he is inside the Octagon, Alexander Gustafsson is an exciting character, but the fireworks stop as soon as the fight is over.
The soft-spoken Swede is a man of few words, and for a fighter of his caliber, he is uncharacteristically reserved. Interviewers have to orchestrate a formidable line of questioning in order to simply conjure a few consecutive words out of the guy.
What then can be expected if he dethrones UFC light heavyweight Jon Jones when they next meet? With the whole world watching, he might want to develop his PR game to match the level of his fight game. When the cameras are trained on his mug and the microphones are shoved in his face, one-word answers and an overall flat personal demeanor sound like a lousy strategy.
Perhaps Gustafsson can reach out to fellow UFC fighters Nick Diaz, Chael Sonnen, Tito Ortiz or Josh Koscheck for a few pointers on how to talk like a champion. Diaz could show him a thing or two when it comes to making interviewers nervous, while Sonnen can teach him the fine art of setting himself up to look like a complete fool, foot-in-mouth.
Ortiz could teach him the skill of leveling lowbrow, playground-grade attacks at opponents while Koscheck can open his eyes to the magic of making every last viewer recoil in horror at the very sight of you.
Just because he might have what it takes to be the best in the world doesn’t mean he shouldn’t stop learning. Thankfully, he is in a league of world-class trash talkers who should pool their talents to help a fellow fighter live up to being a professional MMA athlete.