From title challenger through his championship reign, Jon “Bones” Jones has single-handedly destroyed every former UFC light heavyweight champion on the active roster. Despite a record breaking nine-fight win streak in the 205 lb division, Jones still has plenty left on his plate, as a champion’s work is never done. As soon as you defeat one contender, another is waiting on deck, and a dozen more are making the climb.
Now that Jones has taken the world by storm and reduced the “Old Guard” to mere mortals, another type of challenge has arisen from the ashes. Staring him straight in the face is an abundance of up and coming light heavyweights with title runs in their tunnel vision. But, unlike his previous opponents, these young lions have never tasted gold and are just as hungry and maybe even as dangerous as Jones was when he was in their shoes a few years ago.
At UFC 165, Jones will defend his light heavyweight title for the sixth time. He hopes to surpass the record that he currently shares with Tito Ortiz, which is five consecutive title defenses of the 205 lb belt. Alexander Gustafsson is next in line (or on the chopping block) for Jones, and he comes into the bout on a six-fight win streak.
It’s an undisputed truth that Jones’ wrestling is the best there has ever been in the history of the sport.
Like Jones, Gustafsson has one lone defeat on his record — although Jones’ loss is a questionable disqualification. Also like Jones, he’s a tall, lanky fighter who is extremely skilled at using his reach, and he has a habit of finishing fights early. That’s about where the similarities end.
When asked by Chael Sonnen what he thought Gustafsson does better, Jones claimed that he felt the challenger uses his angles better for striking, but nothing else. It seems the champ was a bit modest in his assessment. Truthfully, there is no aspect of “The Mauler’s” game that’s better than Jones', not even striking, despite his extensive background in Muay Thai.
Chuck Mindenhall of MMAfighting.com thinks that the recent loss of Anderson Silva has put a little bias into the schema of some fans who see Jones as being more vulnerable: “It's interesting that people's hunches on Gustafsson are a little bolder after having seen what Chris Weidman did to Anderson Silva.”
It’s an undisputed truth that Jones’ wrestling is the best there has ever been in the history of the sport. But no one, except maybe Joe Rogan, seems to talk about how much he improves with each fight. He has transformed from a skinny kid who wrestled in junior college to a virtuoso MMA fighting machine before the very eyes of the UFC universe.
As good as Gustafsson’s striking is, Jones’ striking is better. Remember when he fought Shogun Rua for the belt? Everyone said that “Bones” wouldn’t dare stand and trade with him. Guess who won that fight by TKO in the 2nd round?
As for submissions, Gustafsson is very skilled, but good luck fighting Jon Jones from your back. He has a tendency to break faces from that position. And seeing that “Bones” has never been on his back in a fight, it’s not likely that Gustafsson will put him there. His best bet is to stick to his bread and butter which is, of course, angles, footwork, head movement and kickboxing.
Unfortunately for the challenger, Jones will most certainly stick to what he does best: everything.