Jon Jones may have a scored a decisive win over Alexander Gustafsson at UFC 232, marking the second time he’s defeated the latter, but “Bones” believes he and “The Mauler” will eventually battle again. Is the G.O.A.T. contender onto something?
Leading up to UFC 232, Jones repeatedly claimed the reason his 2013 fight with Gustafsson was so close, was because he didn’t train properly for the bout. Thus, the light-heavyweight star said he was going to validate that claim on December 29th. Since Jones went out and stopped Gustafsson in the third round, some have argued he did just that.
Following his impressive win over Gustafsson, Jones had this to say about the longtime contender (quotes via Bloody Elbow):
“I feel like we are going to fight again,” Jones said. “He’s a top dog in the light heavyweight division.”
“The biggest mismatch in the fight was the ground difference,” Jones added, while reflecting on the bout. “He didn’t really have much on the ground. I would look for him to make some adjustments. … To make it a more competitive fight the [third] time, he needs to do more groundwork.”
“For him to keep his head high, that’s what I would like to see from him. Keep his head high and know that he is right there with the top of that division.”
So, is Jones – Gustafsson III almost a certainty down the line? It’s an interesting question.
One one hand, when you consider Gustafsson’s just 31-years-old, his abilities and how long he’s been a force at 205, it would be foolish to outright dismiss his chances of locking up another title fight. Gustafsson boosters would also point out that the veteran reportedly incurred an injury not long into his rematch with Jones, which impacted his performance in the bout.
So, if the Swedish star continues to take out fellow top contenders, and Jones continues to hold the light-heavyweight belt, then it could happen at some point in the coming years.
But, there’s a lot of ifs in that scenario. Can Gustafsson knock back all comers in a title shot, gatekeeping capacity? Further, since he has lost twice now to Jones, and because the second fight was somewhat one-sided, how many wins would Gustafsson need to collect before there’s serious interest in a third fight? Four or Five? And what type of victories would be required to spike interest in another bout? In an age where fans gravitate to knockout artists? Can he stay healthy and compete more than once annually?
In other words, 2019 is going to be a massive year for Gustafsson, if he hopes to put together another title run. At this juncture, any loss the renowned fighter incurs will be a massive setback.