If you've ever listened to famed mixed martial arts (MMA) coach Greg Jackson give advice between rounds, you've probably noticed how unerringly reassuring and positive he seems even when his fighters are on the receiving end of a beating.
Ever the calm rationalist, Jackson seemingly has the ability to find
new fans a tactical silver lining in any combative cloud.
Even if he has to scream it from the front row.
Case in point, his take on the epic firefight his protege and Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) Light Heavyweight Champion Jon Jones found himself involved in with challenger Alexander Gustafsson at UFC 165.
Gustafsson came into the bout a huge underdog, but on fight night he gave Jones all he could handle and then some. The Swede opened up a nasty cut above Jones' right eye, gave him a pronounced fat lip, and used his crisp boxing attack to land big punches on the champ for the better part of 25 minutes.
See a pic of the carnage here.
But if you ask Jackson (via Sherdog.com), despite the damage Jones sustained, UFC 165 was the champ's best performance in the Octagon to date.
"For me, it was his best performance because you got to see that he’s got a great jaw on him. You got to see that he’s just tough. He’s just super tough. He just keeps getting in there and keeps pushing and keeps fighting. I was really impressed with Jon. As much as I was impressed with Alex, I was even more impressed with Jon because he just kept coming and just kept coming and was ultimately able to win it. For me, that’s what you’re looking for. You’ve got to be skilled and technical, but you also have to be just mean about it, just get in a dogfight and win it, and he did that.
Jackson's take on the Jones vs. Gustafsson fight makes sense, in a way.
A Jones who uses his reach to stifle his opponents' offense and his almost preternatural athleticism to impose his will may be a dangerous proposition for any fighter, but a Jones who possesses all those superlative physical gifts and has a granite chin on him?
That's just downright scary.
Still though, Jackson isn't eager for his star pupil to jump into another chin-testing firefight anytime soon.
"He was tested [by Gustafsson] and he passed, and that was very important. However, hopefully we won’t have to be tested like that again in awhile."
This mentality could go a long way toward explaining why Jones waffled on the idea of rematching Gustafsson in the days following UFC 165 and instead decided Glover Teixeira was a more worthy opponent.
After all, only a week before he stepped into the cage against Gustafsson, Jones declared at a media luncheon that he thought Teixeira's performance against Ryan Bader at UFC Fight Night 28 proved he wasn't ready to take the light heavyweight belt from around his waist.
So, what happened in the span of 10 days to change the champ's mind regarding the hard-hitting Brazilian slugger's worthiness as a challenger?
Could it be some advice from a coach -- notorious for his low-risk gameplanning -- made Jones think better of rushing back in against the stiffest test he's faced to date?