Early into UFC 165, in the evening’s main event, it felt like puzzle pieces were falling into place. The puzzle being formed was a blueprint of how to defeat MMA’s most impressive Light Heavyweight of all-time, Jon Jones.
The fight was hyped as a battle of reach, referring to Jones and challenger Alexander Gustafsson’s height and length. Many were quick to point out that despite the height advantage, Gustafsson’s reach was actually significantly less than that of Jones. You couldn’t tell on Saturday night.
Jon Jones was made to look elementary, and still won an MMA fight. That’s how good he can be. There were glimpses at gaping holes in his game plan exposed by Gustafsson.
Jones was very flat footed throughout the bout, relying heavily on single kicks. He failed to set up aforementioned kicks with combinations, and was greeted with counter punches from the challenger.
Gustafsson’s extensive work with former for Phil Davis (the only man to defeat him) was glaringly clear, as he became the first fighter to ever take down Jon Jones in an MMA fight. Gustafsson also stuffed all but one of the champions’ ten attempts at taking the fight to the ground.
Following the Jones takedown attempts, Gustafsson would literally turn his back and jog away from the champion, with Jones seemingly refusing to follow up or take advantage. Gustafsson didn’t make the same mistake, however, as he was heavily countering, circling, and applying pressure to Jones.
The fact that Jon Jones was made to look human is a moral victory in its’ own right, albeit one that Gustafsson isn’t pleased with. It may take more than a human to defeat Jones, or perhaps more than one.
Immediately following the bout, both fighters were rushed to local hospitals in Toronto, with Jones barely able to speak, a giant cut over his right eye, and an injured foot. Gustafsson’s injuries weren’t disclosed.
We see the german suplexes, Overhook suplexes, spinning elbows, sick submissions on the highlight reels and fight promos for Jon Jones. There isn’t a lot of that for Gustafsson. He’s a no-nonsense, non-flash, gritty fighter. At age 26, Gustafsson is early in his career, nowhere near his prime, and perhaps a permanent contender in the 205 pound division.
The immediate takeaway is that a close, perhaps even legendary fight took place for the light heavyweight title at UFC 165. Nobody in the nearly six year career career of Jon Jones has dragged him into deep waters the way that Alexander Gustafsson did. When it came time for sink or swim, Jones doggy paddled his way to victory.
Can Glover Teixiera, Daniel Cormier, Gegard Mousasi, Phil Davis employ the same game plan as Gustafsson? Will they want to? Do they even have the tools to do so? Will Gustafsson get another crack at making history?
Some of those questions will surely be answered, just as surely that at least one of those contenders will lose before facing the ultimate task of facing ‘Bones’ Jones, the sports’ greatest 205-pounder. But a blueprint to defeat him could very well have been mapped out, even in a Jones victory.
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