Gustafsson saw our sparring with Reza and wanted to put me in my place. Then he told me: "I don't know how to make you back down!" I stood with him, although my stand-up was still quite bad. He landed good on me, he has great boxing.
Yes, there was a story that I asked him not to jest with his middle finger. In Sweden, showing the middle finger to a friend is considered a joke. For me, as a Chechen and a Russian, this is not so cool. They have it as a joke, but here they show it to a person you don't like. Another mentality. I explained this to Alex, but not rudely. I said that he can't do that. I said: "You didn't show it like that in Chechnya, don't show it to me here either." He came to Akhmat a couple of years ago. Alex understood me.
I learned a lot from him. I took a lot from him in the stand-up. He often knocks guys out with an uppercut. And I knocked out Ikram Aliskerov in the same way. I outplay Alex in wrestling, he outstrikes me. Moves very well, works with legs. It is not easy to knock him down, he must be driven into a corner.
I was Gustafsson's main sparring partner before his fight with Anthony Smith, after which he announced his retirement. I remember how we were sitting in the bath, and I asked him: "Are you ready to fight, as with desire?" He said: “I want it, but I don’t want it. Desire is there, but it is not. They give good money, so you have to fight." I knew he would return. Why did he go heavy? So as not to cut weight.