On a night (Sat., Sept. 21, 2013) where both fighters defied near-death, and went straight to the nearest Toronto, Canada, hospital (see pic here) in lieu of UFC 165 post-fight press conference (watch video replay here), Jon Jones and Alexander Gustafsson channeled their inner Rocky Balboa and Apollo Creed during -- and after -- their epic five-round Light Heavyweight clash (watch full fight highlights here).
It would normally be hyperbole to say a fight resembled the boxing classic "Rocky" movie, but not this one.
Jon Jones vs. Alexander Gustafsson was as close as it gets to the 1975 "Best Picture"-winning film. Five rounds of back-and-forth and give-and-take, as well as plenty of blood, bumps and bruises. After the fight, Jones was walking with a limp, suffering a nasty cut on his right eye from the Swede's battering right hand.
Meanwhile, Gustafsson's blond mane was turned crimson from a cut courtesy of the champ's spinning elbow.
Jones, as we know, ultimately had his hand raised, earning a unanimous decision win from the judges, just like "Creed" in the aforementioned film. But, just like the focus was on Balboa for pushing the champ to the limit, so, too, was the attention on the performance of Gustafsson in defeat.
Some felt Gustafsson won, while others -- even "The Mauler" -- clung to the very cliche, "you have to beat the champ, to be the champ." Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) President Dana White would say, "who doesn't want to see this rematch?"
The answer, of course, is that there was basically no soul not named Glover Teixeira on Earth who said, "No," after White made that statement.
This was the second time Jones has gone the distance, but no one -- including the four former UFC champions "Bones" defeated -- have pushed him, took him down or cut and battered his face the way that Gustafsson did.
Perhaps their emergency room dialogue was similar to the hospital scene from "Rocky 2," where after both fighters are tended to, stitched up and bandaged, Balboa drags himself over to Creed's room to ask him a question.
"Could you answer me one question?" Balboa asked. "Yeah, sure," Creed replied. "Did you give me your best?" Balboa asks. Creed replies begrudgingly, "Yeah, yeah." Balboa says, "Thank you," as he walks away from the door.
Later on in the evening after the UFC 165 conclusion, Jones tweeted that he "felt a little off his game," but it certainly appeared that he gave it his all for 25 minutes, especially at the end of the fourth and entire fifth round. Gustafsson was on fumes for the final stanza, but refused to go down after eating several head kicks. He turned in a career performance, shocking the majority of the mixed martial arts (MMA) world, but not himself.
Both fighters combined for 244 significant strikes, a UFC title fight record.
As similar to "Rocky" lore as this all-time classic between Jones and Gustafsson was, UFC -- unfortunately -- is following Creeds initial feelings after his colossal battle with Balboa ended, when he told him, "There ain't gonna be no rematch," with the recent announcement (read it here) that would be challenging "Bones" on Superbowl weekend instead of a rematch with "The Mauler."
It was Jones' reported preference to fight a fresh new challenger (more on that here), rather than agree to an immediate rematch against Gustafsson.
Nothing against Teixeira -- and he is definitely a worthy adversary -- but it just doesn't make any sense, especially after witnessing what went down in last Saturday's main event. With what transpired and the buzz still hot, the pay-per-view (PPV) numbers and ticket sales with a rematch would be threw the roof, undoubtedly surpassing those of UFC 165.
Yes, Jones is a huge PPV draw, but its hard to think that Jon Jones vs. Glover Teixeira would draw higher than a rematch with Gustafsson.
Jones appeared to be the linchpin for the rematch to happen, meaning that if the 205-pound champion wanted an immediate Gustafsson showdown, UFC most likely would have made it happen.
Regardless (if you remember to stick to the "Rocky" script" Creed changes his mind and goes out of his way to convince Balboa for the rematch. Gustafsson is in, he doesn't need convincing. It's up to the UFC and Jones to change their minds. It's not like it hasn't happened before, and it certainly isn't out of the question.
Even though the rematch isn't happening (for now), it appears it's inevitable for the two fighters to meet once again. They are both just 26 years old, still young in their respective careers. They could very well end up being the Junior dos Santos and Cain Velasquez of the light heavyweight division.
In the end, the fight game is very much like the world of motion pictures. If the first one is great, everyone wants a sequel. White and UFC should have given the fans what they wanted, but as we know after the recent announcement, "there ain't gonna be no rematch" on SuperBowl weekend 2014.
And if it doesn't happen -- for whatever reason -- at a later date, Jones and UFC only have themselves to blame because this script has already been written.
Just never like this.