Are the comparisons between Alexander Gustafsson (L) and UFC Light Heavyweight Champion Jon Jones (R) accurate or inappropriate at this stage in their careers?
Comparisons in the sports world seemingly pop up every day.
When Kobe Bryant entered the NBA, he was immediately compared to the greatest to ever play the game, Michael Jordan. Sydney Crosby started drawing comparisons to all time hockey great Wayne Gretzky the second he made his NHL debut. It seems that the second any potential is seen, the comparisons start to pour in. Some may be well deserved and some may be too far-fetched.
The world of mixed martial arts (MMA) is no different.
Most recently, fast rising Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) light heavyweight contender Alexander Gustafsson has been drawing early comparisons to another 205-stalwart, current division champion Jon Jones.
Winner of five straight, the young Swede continued his rise up the ladder by defeating Thiago Silva this past weekend (April 14, 2012) at in Stockholm, Sweden, picking part the grizzled veteran over 15 minutes of action, inching him closer to a title shot. 2
Jones, on the other hand, has yet to show any signs of slowing down his momentum, running through MMA legends en route to a very impressive early championship reign. He will undoubtedly have one of his toughest tests to date as he finally takes on former training partner Rashad Evans this weekend (April 21, 2012) at UFC 145.
But what makes them similar?
Is it that their individual fighting styles mirror one another? Is it that they are both in their mid 20's and are on very respective winning streaks? Is it that they each only have one blemish on their records? Or is it because they are the two tallest 205-pounders fighting at the highest level?
Speaking at today's (April 18, 2012) UFC 145 press conference, Jones says that the comparisons at this point in their careers is not an appropriate thing for people to be doing, but does feel that the young contender is close to earning a title shot.
"Alexander Gustafsson is close to a title shot. I think if he wins two more fights against like, Lyoto or Evans, I'd like to see him with another wrestler. I don't think it is appropriate to be comparing us. The only thing we have similar is that we are both tall. Were different fighters, I kick fast, I'm good in the clinch and accurate and he has great boxing."
Though the current 205-pound kingpin doesn't think the comparisons are warranted, he does, in fact, appreciate "The Mauler's" swagger and confidence, something "Bones" is not a stranger to himself:
"I like his swagger though, he exudes winning when he steps in the cage, he has the potential to be a star, he just has it."
A fight between the two lanky light heavyweights isn't far-fetched and would make for an intriguing match-up, considering that Jones, for the first time in a long time, will not have a distinct height and weight advantage come fight night.
Gustafsson has been on a tear as of late and could be one impressive win away from his chance at vying for UFC gold. However, Jones has his hands full with "Suga" in Atlanta and a loss for "Bones" could derail any future championship showdown with Gustafsson.
For now, the two young athletes will continue on with their respective careers and if all the stars align, we could one day see them staring at one another across the Octagon, and will get the chance to show that they truly are two different fighters.
What's your take, do you feel that the comparisons between Jon Jones and Alexander Gustafsson are warranted? Are there really so many similarities between the two, or are they two completely different animals in their own right?