What’s better than a UFC fight to close out the summer?
A UFC title fight between two of the sport’s most elite young fighter on the planet, that’s what.
Looking to take over sole possession of the most consecutive light heavyweight titles in UFC history, Jon “Bones” Jones will square off against the only man in the entire division that can look eye-to-eye with him: Alexander Gustafsson. Standing at 6-foot-4, Jones is significantly taller than almost everyone in the 205-pound division. Everyone that is except Gustafsson, who stands an inch taller than the champion and has looked just as dominant over the past year.
It truly is a battle of the giants, which makes this a fight no fan will want to miss.
The most even matchup in this entire fight comes in the stand-up game, as both Jones and Gustafsson have proven to be two of the most technical and powerful strikers in the entire organization. Gustafsson entered the UFC with little more than knockout power to go with his large frame. This was none more evident than when he flattened Jordan Hamman in under a minute in his UFC debut. Since that night more than three years ago, “The Mauler” has vastly improved his technical abilities to go along with that signature brawling style he brings into the cage. The only glaring weakness the Swede has displayed is his tendency to drop his hands when on the attack.
This could come back to haunt Gustafsson as Jones has made a name for himself by taking aim at every one of his past opponents’ weaknesses. With razor-sharp elbows and deadly accurate knees, the champion has cut almost every man that has stepped foot in to the cage with him. But the key to Jones’s striking ability has to be his deadly accurate strikes to go along with his 84.5-inch reach, the longest in the entire UFC. Gustafsson may come from a striking background, but if he approaches Jones with the same wild attack he’s shown in the past, he will have a difficult time figuring out ways to connect with his opponent while avoiding the incredibly well-rounded striking arsenal Jones possesses.
> Edge: Jones
When Gustafsson first entered the UFC, it was easy to point out his wrestling abilities was the one glaring weakness he had, since he always looked to keep the fight standing in order to attack his opponent from the outside. This weakness was none more apparent than in his second bout in the UFC when he squared off against former against former NCAA Division I wrestling national champion Phil Davis. In the bout, the Penn State alum needed less than one round to take the fight to the canvas and lock on a devastating anaconda choke, handing Gustafsson his first professional loss. Since that night, Gustafsson has actually sought out Davis and the rest of Alliance MMA help to improve his wrestling abilities, a move “The Mauler” has benefited from greatly. But even training with a former national champion for three years can’t make up for the lifetime of wrestling that Jones has gone through. With wins over world class wrestlers like Chael Sonnen, Ryan Bader and Rashad Evans, the former New York high school state champion and JUCO national champion has proven he has no problem handling an opponent with skills vastly superior to Gustafsson’s. Combine this with the fact Jones has never been taken down and holds a takedown accuracy of 62 percent, and it’s hard to see Gustafsson posing much of a threat to Jones.
> Edge: Jones
Another aspect of the fight game Gustafsson has greatly improved since joining the UFC has to be his submission game. Prior to joining the big leagues, Gustafsson’s lone submission victory came in his first professional bout back in 2007. But since making the move to Alliance MMA, he has two more submission wins — only one less than the number of knockout wins he has inside the octagon. However, the submission game has proven to be Jones’s bread and butter, as his five submission victories is more than any other light heavyweight in UFC history. While only a white belt in jiu-jitsu, Jones utilizes his long limbs and dangerous elbows from the top to set up an array of unique submissions. His standing guillotine choke against Lyoto Machida remains one of the more memorable images in recent UFC history.
Gustafsson is by no means out of his element fighting off submission attempts, but Jones’s advantage in the wrestling department, combined with Gustafsson’s inexperience fighting off his back, has the edge going the champion.
> Edge: Jones
For the first time in his UFC career, Jones is facing someone he can look eye-to-eye with inside the octagon. While Gustafsson does posses dynamite in both fists, he will undoubtedly have trouble utilizing his arm length in this bout because Jones has the longest reach in the entire organization. In the end, I see Jones utilizing his superior grappling abilities to lock on a submission late in Round 3 and breaking Tito Ortiz’s record for most UFC light heavyweight title defenses.
> Jones via Round 3 submission