Post-Fight Thoughts: Jon Jones -vs- Alexander Gustafsson 2
Where the first encounter between Jon Jones and Alexander Gustafsson was a closely fought affair, one that saw both men battered and bloodied, the rematch was largely a whole different story. The first round was fairly competitive, though Jones was clearly the winner — despite Gustafsson applying almost all of the forward pressure. As the fight wore on, Jones' masterful ability to slowly breakdown his opponents and shrink their arsenal as he takes over the fight was on full display. After Jones compromised Gustafsson's right leg in the second round, it didn't take him much of the third frame to secure a takedown, toy with the possibility of a submission and then opt for savage ground-and-pound that earned him a TKO win.
As often is the case, rematches of very close fights tend to be much more decisive. In this instance, Jon Jones needed approximately half the time it took him to win the first fight by decision to stop Gustafsson and notch a definitive win. Gustafsson showed up to fight, too, and was clearly trying his best to win — it's not like he didn't take the fight seriously and got caught with his guard down — but Jon Jones was simply too much to overcome. As expected, Gustafsson looked largely the same as we've seen in the past, and had decent success in some of the stand-up exchanges. However, Jones had clearly learned from the first fight and was able to anticipate his opponent better and continuously pepper him with shots to the legs, body and head in high volume.
Until the leg injury, Gustafsson was moving well but was unable to pin Jones against the cage or land many strikes when he would charge in throwing 1-2s. Jones was composed, calm, and methodical, and showed a lot of improvement from the first encounter. In the first bout, Jones and Gustafsson were basically trading strikes, with neither using much in the way of defence. The second time out, Jones was able to circle away and use good head movement to avoid a lot of strikes, though Gustafsson was still able to crack him a couple of times. But that was about it, "The Mauler" had meager success while Jones whittled him down and eventually ended his night in violent fashion.
For Jon Jones, this was exactly the type of performance he needed. His issues outside of the cage aren't going away, but at least he has his title back, having reclaimed it in an effort that issued a strong reminder that he is quite likely the best fighter in the history of the sport. Whether or not their first fight was a close one because Jones didn't take it seriously and partied too hard before hand is moot, he won that fight — without much controversy in my opinion, though others disagree — and decisively won the rematch. Jones may not fight very often, but he continues to display an improved version of himself every time he does. Regardless of what one may think of him as a person, as a fighter and tactician he is simply the best to ever do it — no one makes such crucial adjustments and technical assessments in the heat of battle like Jon Jones does.
I was a little perplexed why Jones felt the need to call Daniel Cormier out, considering that he has already beaten him twice before, but it happened. I have no interest in seeing those two fight again. If the bout was at heavyweight, I would be more interested; if nothing else, alleviating Cormier of the burden of cutting weight would be an interesting wrinkle. Either way, though, I am quite fine if Cormier and Jones never cross paths again. Anthony Smith is likely the next in line for a light heavyweight title shot, but there is no way in Hell you can expect me to believe he will be the one to dethrone Jon Jones and hand him his first legitimate loss. Then again, light heavyweight doesn't have much else to offer, so maybe Jones does move up just for the sake of a compelling match-up.
As for Alexander Gustafsson, he's once again come up short against the champion — for a third time, now — but otherwise is capable of beating everyone else in the division, so he's stuck in a precarious spot. If Jones doesn't fight Smith, then I suppose Gustafsson could fight him, although that risks knocking off a contender without the winner being a viable replacement. Unfortunately for Gustafsson, nothing in this fight indicates that they need to run this back again.
The king is back, it's too bad the 205 pound division has little to offer him...
Published: December 28th, 2018.