On Sept. 21, UFC light-heavyweight champion Jon “Bones” Jones and Alexander “The Mauler” Gustafsson put on a memorable show MMA fans won’t stop talking about anytime soon.
The two went back and forth during their UFC 165 five-rounder which ended with both men bruised and battered. Jones was awarded with a unanimous decision afterwards, making him the longest reigning light-heavyweight champion in the Ultimate Fighting Championship’s history with six consecutive title defenses.
Given how entertaining virtually every second of Jones vs. Gustafsson was, it wasn’t much of a surprise when a large number of MMA fans rallied for a rematch.
However, as a noted in an earlier piece, an immediate Jones vs. Gustafsson rematch wasn’t necessarily the right move since Jones was the decisive winner, he was the defending champion, not Gustafsson (which means he gets the benefit of the doubt in close rounds and the possibility of an automatic rematch if he loses), and there are still a few other interesting matchups out there for Jones at 205.
Some would argue otherwise and claim Gustafsson was robbed, thus deserving of an immediate rematch, but you certainly won’t hear that pitch from any respected MMA head, even those who scored the bout in Alexander’s favor.
It’s hard to take cries of a robbery seriously when even Gustafsson’s trainer, Del Fierro, scored the fight 48-47 in Jones’ favor.
“When I was there, I scored it, I think, the way it came through: 3-2 for Jones,” Del Fierro explained per Sherdog.com. “I had Jones winning the fifth round. It was such a grinding fight. When I was there, I even scored round two in Alex’s favor. It was weird. The way it ended, I saw it going 3-2 to Jones. I just thought he’d finished strong, and to be the champ, you’ve got to take that fifth round. That’s one of the most important rounds of that whole fight.”
Fierro later said he scored the fight 48-47 in Alexander’s favor after watching a replay, but the fact someone close to Gustafsson initially gave the nod to Jones says a lot about how ridiculous cries of a fix are.
After contemplating the idea of an immediate Jones vs. Gustafsson rematch for a few days, the UFC’s brass has decided to go with Glover Teixeira as Jones’ next challenger, exactly what Jon requested, a move that would likely draw the ire of many MMA fans even though it’s the right one.
No need to start accusing Jones of ducking yet though, the 26-year-old made it clear he plans to give Gustafsson a rematch once he’s done with Teixeira.
“I said before the [Gustafsson] fight my sights were set on breaking the record,” Jones stated. “I want to crush the record. I want to beat the record so bad it can never be broken. I’m going to fight Glover and I will answer all the critics about the Gustafsson fight. I will fight Gustafsson after I fight Glover. I won the fight but I look at it as a blemish on my record because some people think I didn’t. I promise you, he will be next.”
While Jones will likely take a lot of heat for putting a rematch against Gustafsson on hold, his decision will only make the rematch between the two even more entertaining.
Given the amount of brutal punishment both endured during their showdown, it’s a bit naïve to think either man will be ready for another brutal war in few months.
Spacing out the rematch gives both men more time to prepare for what we all know is inevitable. It gives Gustafsson more time to work on avoiding those nasty elbows which pretty much won Bones the fight, and for Jones, it gives him more time to prepare for a solid, rangy striker he might not be able to ground.
All that will only lead to a more entertaining fight, meaning MMA fans win at the end of the day.