Jon Jones found himself in the fight of his life on Saturday night (Sat., Sept. 21, 2013). Already talking about future projects like Glover Teixeira, Daniel Cormier and even the Klitschko brothers, nobody told "Bones" that Alexander Gustafsson was going to be so tough.
Jones made history in many ways with his gritty performance, accomplishing many different accolades; however, the most important one of all is that he survived the onslaught brought forth by "The Mauler," surviving a gnarly gash over his right eye and he was visibly limping after the bout.
"Bones" and Gustafsson put on the greatest fight in Light Heavyweight championship history (more on that here), a five-round war that was so close that it was another fight where social media, numerous publications and fans across the world all had an opinion on how they scored the bout (check out FightMetric report here). Ultimately, Jones won the contest, however, he did not leave unscathed, looking as if this was the most grueling fight both men have ever been in (watch the highlights here) to date.
Both men earned a "Fight of The Night" bonus for their troubles, as Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) president Dana White announced they would not partake in the post-fight press conference since both men were headed to the hospital (watch the full video replay from the post-fight presser here).
All credit should go to Gustafsson, who brought his world-class pedigree to the center stage and showed everyone who doubted him he was the man who had the best chances of beating Jones. Gustafsson tagged Jones on multiple occasions and stuffed an abundance of takedowns, something we have never seen from either side of the coin.
Before we get into the specifics, Jones will definitely need to take some time off (as does his opponent). Both men looked as if years would be taken of their lives because of this fight, and it is essentially guaranteed they will not return before the year's end.
As for Jones' accomplishments, he beat Tito Ortiz's record for most successful (and consecutive) title defenses in 205-pound history at six. He also joins Anderson Silva, Georges St. Pierre and Royce Gracie for being another competitor to get 10 straight wins in the Octagon (having the longest Light Heavyweight win streak by the same token) and has defended that belt in Toronto three times now. He also secured his sixth fight bonus, winning Fight of The Night three times now.
What is next for Jones, you ask?
"Who wouldn't want to see this rematch?" White asked the media at the press conference.
Clearly, that is on everyone's mind and a rematch between Jones and Gustafsson (possibly in Sweden) is a lot more compelling than Teixeira facing the champion. Although, a fresh challenger could entice the champion to take that fight over a man he has already beaten. There is a slight possibility Gustafsson would have to get one more victory before challenging Jones again, but the reason better be good (injuries, etc.).
Since Jones' weaknesses were exploited with Gustafsson's height and reach, which seemed more like a myth leading up to the fight, one could only wonder if the tight, stocky and slower Teixeira could make his fight against Jones competitive, but a fight should never be judged before it takes place.
Last night is the perfect example.
Jones has also been speaking a whole lot about Cormier lately, who faces Roy Nelson at UFC 166 and the undefeated (12-0) Heavyweight will be dropping down a weight class right after. With a win over Nelson, he too was guaranteed a title shot. Although Jones -- and many others -- feel like he has not done anything in the Light Heavyweight division to merit that shot.
Both of these men seem like the next option for Jones, one after the other yet it just feels like we would be cheated out of a Gustafsson rematch for fights that may be less exciting (at least Teixeira, because Cormier would be interesting). If we were in the champions shoes though, he may want to clean out the division before moving on up in weight or facing familiar foes once again.
There are also rumblings of Phil Davis included in the mix and Lord knows he helped Gustafsson prepare for Jones with all of those takedown defenses. Davis is coming off a win over Machida, which many found a lot more questionable than this decision, and the truth is he needs another strong showing before he starts calling out for a title shot.
Right now as it stands, Jones has two options: Either a rematch with Gustafsson or a fight that has already been confirmed to happen with Brazilian slugger Teixeira. Is the ball in his court?
It all depends what UFC wants to do. Certainly, it will respect the champion's wishes, yet the timing of a rematch with Gustafsson could be too sweet to turn down (Superbowl weekend, soccer arena in Sweden, another blockbuster card in the works, etc.).
For now though, Jones will have a period of rest where he could recover and weigh out his options. Thanks to Gustafsson, he's seemingly now got many more than he did just 24 hours ago.
For our complete live story stream of UFC 165: " Jones vs. Gustafsson" click here.