Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) asked its reigning light heavyweight kingpin, Jon Jones, to put his 205-pound title on the line against Glover Teixeira in the main event of UFC 172, which took place last Saturday night (April 26, 2014) inside the Baltimore Arena in Baltimore, Maryland.
There was a reason "Bones" opened at -600.
The champ got off to a slow start, allowing the challenger to make it competitive in the opening frame. That was to be expected after a seven-month layoff, but once Jones got his sea legs, Teixeira was out-struck, out-grappled and well, just about out-everything'd, losing a lopsided unanimous decision (full recap here).
While there was a time in the not-too-distant past when Jones (20-1) was contemplating a trip up to the heavyweight division, the 205-pound weight class has grown by leaps and bounds, recently adding undefeated Olympian Daniel Cormier, while Anthony Johnson inserted himself into the mix by turning away Phil Davis in "Charm City."
But as intriguing as those match ups are, they're going to stay on the back burner until Jones settles some unfinished business with Alexander Gustafsson.
The towering Swede, fresh off a technical knockout win over the previously-unbeaten Jimi Manuwa back in March, took Jones to the scorecards after a 25-minute war at UFC 165, in a grueling, five-round affair that has been called the greatest light heavyweight title fight of all time.
It has also been called a botched decision, one that should have favored "The Mauler."
But no matter how you scored it, there is no denying that Gustafsson (16-2) did what no previous fighter had done before him. Other challengers went the distance, like Teixeira, but Jones was in cruise control for most of that bout, and wasn't beaten up (or taken down) like he was last year in Toronto.
And now he'll get the chance to do it all over again, and make a little history in the process.
That's because his second go-round with Gustafsson is the first time in his professional mixed martial arts (MMA) career that Jones will be competing in a rematch. UFC Heavyweight Champion Cain Velasquez has already run it back with Antonio Silva, and fought Junior dos Santos three times within the span of two years.
He's not the only one.
Anderson Silva fought Rich Franklin twice, gave Chael Sonnen a pair of title fights and we all know what happened with Chris Weidman. Same goes for Georges St. Pierre, who doubled up against BJ Penn, Matt Serra, and Josh Koscheck, while going 2-1 opposite Matt Hughes.
Ronda Rousey needed two fights to rid herself of Miesha Tate.
The fact that Jones has 15 fights under the UFC banner and has yet to see the same opponent twice, is a pretty good indication of how dominant he's been as champion. In fact, nine of his 14 wins have been violent finishes, with four of those coming against former division titleholders.
But Gustafsson not only survived, he thrived, and gave Jones his toughest test to date. Until "DC" beats someone other than a coffee-shop employee, and "Rumble" bags another top contender, there is no one left in the 205-pound weight class worthy of a title shot.