MMA Access: UFC 165 Aftermath – How the Jones vs Gustafsson Fight Helps the Light Heavyweight Division

UFC 165 Aftermath – How the Jones vs Gustafsson Fight Helps the Light Heavyweight Division

By Christopher Jester

 

 
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Jon Jones is slowly working his way into the hearts of many fans. Whether you like him or not for his personality, very few can deny the effort the champion put forth in the championship rounds to retain his belt. At UFC 165, Alexander Gustafsson did not give Jones the comfort that he usually has had in his bouts. Instead, Gustafsson bloodied up the champion and put on a performance that still has some fans saying that he was robbed. Regardless of the outcome of the fight, this was the kind of performance from both men that heightens the level of competition at the top of the light-heavyweight division. And it came at the right time – right before Jon Jones cleared the entire division.

 

Was the champion clearly better than Alexander Gustafsson? Not as clearly as most would have pegged it to be. In fact, Gustafsson won the first round on every judge’s scorecard. Gustafsson was the ideal challenger. He represented a challenger who believed in himself and his abilities to take the best to the man who holds the belt. He laid down the blueprint to beating the best; unwavering confidence. While he came up short based on the judges’ decision, Gustafsson should know in his heart and mind that he can beat the champion if he pushes just a bit more.

 

Versatility is the takeaway word of Jones’ performance. Very few fighters can adapt during a bout when the times gets rough. Jones did just that. He had taken a beaten unlike ever before. The evolution of a fighter has to take place to grow. But rarely does a fighter evolve during a fight. Regardless of what the judges’ scorecard says, Jones had to put together a comeback that a worthy champion had to. He did enough to score a unanimous decision victory and it was somewhat a morale victory as well, as he was able to escape a brutal fight with his championship intact. While he left with his body bruised and battered, his spirit has to be on a high that elevates his inner fighter.

 

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Ironically, this potential Fight of the Year candidate is just what the UFC’s light-heavyweight division needed. Just as the division had become stale and stagnate due to Jones’s seemingly immortal reign over the division, Gustafsson helped out by diminishing the aura of Jon Jones. Gustafsson humanized Jones. He appears capable of defeat now. The concern is who gets the next crack at Jones. Should it be Gustafsson or Glover Teixeira?

 

The UFC recently has tried out the immediate rematch a bit too much. Let Gustafsson fight the winner of Rashad Evans versus Chael Sonnen, and give Teixeira his deserved title match. Teixeira has to be hungry for the title fight after viewing UFC 165 as technically he is a bit more well-rounded than Gustafsson. He won’t have to fear the takedowns due to his submission skills and has adequate boxing with punching power to make anyone notice.

 

Sure, Gustafsson deserves a rematch. The problem with immediate rematches is that it seems like the UFC wishes the decision went the other direction. Or perhaps they wish to capitalize on what is in front of them while it is lucrative. But how many title fights are on its second or third outing currently? Velasquez vs. Dos Santos III. Weidman vs. Silva II. Rousey vs. Tate II. Two of them have challengers who are coming off of a loss. The other fight is on its third iteration and has not gained as much steam as one would expect. Likely, because there has not been much time to let the rivalry build momentum. Time builds interest if done correctly. Gustafsson should want to fight once more to grow that interest. He’ll likely receive a better payday for it.

 

With Dan Henderson, Chael Sonnen, Antonio Rogerio Nogueira, Glover Teixeira, Rashad Evans, Phil Davis, and Alexander Gustafsson filling out the top of the heap at 205lbs., the light-heavyweight division has surely gotten interesting again. But it is all because of the great fight between the champion Jon Jones and Alexander Gustafsson. The UFC has a worthy king sitting on the throne at 205, but Jones has some praiseworthy challengers looking to remove the king from his seat.

 
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(photos courtesy of UFC.com)

 

 

Follow Christopher “sLapDatSuCKa” Jester on Twitter @sLapDatSuCka

 

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