- Jon Jones makes another comeback at UFC 232, on December 29th at T-Mobile Arena
- He faces Alexander Gustafsson in a rematch for the vacated light heavyweight title
- The first fight was one of the greatest of all time, and the rematch should be another blockbuster
Here we go again: the long-awaited re-return of former light heavyweight champ Jon Jones is scheduled for UFC 232. It’s the final event of the year, and the UFC is closing 2018 with a blockbuster. Jones faces Alexander Gustafsson in a rematch for the vacated title.
The first time Jones and Gustafsson met, we were rewarded with one of the greatest fights in UFC history. That was in 2013, before the hit-and-runs and failed drug tests that derailed Jones’ career. This is — once again — another chance for Jones to find redemption, but more importantly, it’s another chance for us to revisit one of the greatest match-ups ever.
Jon Jones vs Alexander Gustafsson 2 Odds
|UFC 232 Main Event Winner||Odds|
The First Fight
Jon Jones vs Alexander Gustafsson was unanimously awarded Fight of the Year in 2013, and may well be the greatest title fight ever. Jones was looking to make his sixth successful title defense, and had torn through some of the biggest names in the UFC with ease. Gustafsson was basically written off from the start, entering the octagon as a wide +700 underdog. Jones had looked invincible up until that point and was expected to walk through the Swede.
Jon Jones vs Alexander Gustafsson was unanimously awarded Fight of the Year in 2013, and may well be the greatest title fight ever.
But what followed was the toughest fight of Jones’ career. Gustafsson dominated the early rounds, out-boxing the champ and even landing the first takedown of Jones’ career. Jones rallied later in the fight and dominated the championship rounds. When the final buzzer sounded, it was unclear who had won the fight.
Bones Jones ended up winning by unanimous decision but many felt that Gustafsson had done enough in the first three rounds to win the fight.
It’s been a bumpy ride for both fighters since their first encounter.
Jones was stripped of the title after a hit-and-run incident where he injured a pregnant woman and fled the scene on foot. Then he failed a drug test in 2016, and then another in 2017. That’s three lengthy suspensions in three years.
Jones’ problems exist solely outside of the octagon. Once the cage is locked, he’s still the same world-beater we all remember.
However, Jones’ problems exist solely outside of the octagon. Once the cage is locked, he’s still the same world-beater we all remember. He’s won all four of his fights since Jones vs Gustafsson, though his most recent victory was overturned after he tested positive for performance enhancing drugs.
Gustafsson has gone 3-2 since the fight, losing brutally to Anthony Johnson in a title eliminator and then again to Daniel Cormier in his second title shot. The rematch against Jones will be his third time contesting the light heavyweight title.
Tale of the Tape
|22-1, 1 NC||PRO RECORD||18-4|
|3-0, 1 NC||RECORD SINCE FIRST FIGHT||3-2|
|6 ft 4 in||HEIGHT||6 ft 5 in|
|84 in||REACH||79 in|
|July 29, 2017||LAST FIGHT||May 28, 2017|
Both Jones and Gustafsson are accustomed to having a height and reach advantage over their opponents, but that isn’t as much of a factor when they face each other. Gustafsson has an inch of height over Jones, while Jones has five extra inches in reach.
Gustafsson is a pure boxer and a pretty conventional fighter. Jones is more well-rounded and creative. The first fight saw Gustafsson rely heavily on his combination punching, while Jones mixed things up with an array of oblique kicks, spinning elbows, and head kicks.
There’s little doubt that Jones is the better fighter. Just take one look at their fight records. Bones Jones claimed the light heavyweight title at just 23 years old, and walked through murderers’ row to defend the belt. Gustafsson doesn’t have a resume that can remotely compare to that and has already unsuccessfully challenged the title on two occasions.
But their stylistic match-up that makes for an extremely close fight. Gustafsson has shown that he can force Jones to keep the fight upright, and his boxing is far superior to Jones’. He neutralizes the length advantage, which is usually a determining factor in many of Jones’ fights. And he already knows he can handle some of Jones’ most dangerous weapons.
Pick: Alexander Gustafsson (+225)
By now, Jon Jones is accustomed to returning from lengthy lay-offs. So we shouldn’t expect ring rust and inactivity to factor into this. He returned from his first suspension and cruised to victory over Ovince Saint Preux. Then he returned from a second suspension and wiped out Daniel Cormier, though that was aided by some less-than-legal supplements.
Gustafsson gave Jones the toughest fight of his career, and I believe he did enough to edge the first fight. We already know that this will likely be another grueling and close fight, so it doesn’t make much sense for Gustafsson to be placed at +225. Take advantage of that!