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UFC 232 card: Jon Jones vs Alexander Gustafsson 2 full fight preview

Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) Light Heavyweight elites Jon Jones and Alexander Gustafsson will rematch TONIGHT (Dec. 29, 2018) at UFC 232 inside The Forum in Inglewood, California.

A few days before Christmas, I wrote that recapping Jones’ recent antics outside the cage and drug test failures was growing tiresome. Luckily, “Bones” must have been listening, as just a couple days later he kept things fresh by not-really-but-maybe-definitely failing yet another drug test. Depending on your opinion, Jones was either screwed by the “stupid” Nevada State Athletic Commission or the beneficiary of a corrupt UFC and USADA collaboration.

Either way, Jones and the rest of the UFC 232 crew were shipped off to California, which would allow him to compete.

Meanwhile, Gustafsson’s mission remains the same: prove the first fight was no fluke and himself the better man to Jones. It’s been five years since the original showdown, and Gustafsson seems to have been thinking of nothing else but a rematch since.

Let’s take a closer look at the keys to victory for each man:

Jon Jones

Record: 22-1 (1)
Key Wins: Daniel Cormier (UFC 182), Alexander Gustafsson (UFC 165), Lyoto Machida (UFC 140), Rashad Evans (UFC 145)
Key Losses: None
Keys to Victory: Jones may be a disaster outside the Octagon, but he’s unmatched inside it. The rangy wrestler destroys opponents at long range with a variety of kicks, inside the clinch with shoulder cranks and elbows, and from top position with even more elbows.

In the first fight, Jones struggled with Gustafsson’s superior boxing in the pocket, as much of the first three rounds took place in that range. Later in the fight, Jones was able to get a true read on Gustafsson’s timing and catch him more often with hard strikes, and his wrestling became more of a factor as well.

In this bout, I’d like to see Jones focus more on landing round kicks to the leg. Gustafsson did a lot of work behind his jab last time, and few things disrupt the jab like a hard low kick. Furthermore, Gustafsson avoided many of Jones’ straight kicks with lateral movement, but the low kick counters lateral movement as well.

If Jones can work early to lessen and eventually eliminate Gustafsson’s footwork, he’ll look like everyone else against “Bones.”

Alexander Gustafsson

Record: 18-4
Key Wins: Glover Teixeira (UFC Fight Night 109), Mauricio Rua (UFC on FOX 5), Jimi Manuwa (UFC Fight Night 37), Jan Blachowicz (UFC Fight Night 93)
Key Losses: Daniel Cormier (UFC 192), Jon Jones (UFC 165), Anthony Johnson (UFC on FOX 14)
Keys to Victory: It’s unfortunate that Gustafsson has competed much lately, as his last performance was the best of his career: a boxing showcase and fifth round knockout of Glover Teixeira. The Swede is a boxing specialist, a rangy striker who sets up his power punches better than most and uses movement to keep opponents guessing.

Gustafsson did a lot right against Jones, but there’s always room for improvement. First and foremost, no one will defeat Jones without kicking him quite a bit. Even Daniel Cormier — the short wrestler who rarely kicks — knew this, slamming home some very hard low kicks in the first round of their rematch. As a similarly built man, Gustafsson absolutely must be kicking at range, particularly to the leg, otherwise he’s out-matched for much of the fight.

Any time Jones misses on a side or front kick, slam the leg as it returns to stance!

In addition, I’d like to see Gustafsson target the body with more than the jab. This will very likely be a war of attrition similar to the first fight, and punishing the bread basket will go a long way in slowing Jones’ athleticism.

Bottom Line: It’s a fight that simply has to happen.

There’s unfinished business between both men, and since they currently average one appearance in the Octagon per year at best, it’s a miracle the fight is actually happening even before considering the last-minute shuffle. It’s a more personal moment for Gustafsson, who has really been calling out “Bones” and searching for a rematch for the entirety of the five years. Plus, given his previous losses and inconsistency making it to the cage, it could end up as Gustafsson’s final title run. It’s simply a must-win fight for “The Mauler.”

That’s not to imply the stakes are low for Jones. Once more, the former dominant champion is looking to recapture a belt he never lost and reclaim his spot as king. If he does and also manages to pass current and future drug tests, there are a lot of options for Jones. New contenders at 205 lbs. have popped up in 2018, and Heavyweight remains full of intriguing match ups as well.

Those are important “ifs” though.

Remember that will deliver LIVE round-by-round, blow-by-blow coverage of the entire UFC 232 fight card later this evening, starting with the Fight Pass “Prelims” matches online, which are scheduled to begin at 6:15 p.m. ET, then the remaining undercard balance on FOX Sports 1 at 8 p.m. ET, before the pay-per-view (PPV) main card start time at 10 p.m. ET.

To check out the latest and greatest UFC 232: “Jones vs. Gustafsson 2” news and notes be sure to hit up our comprehensive event archive right here.

At UFC 232, Jon Jones and Alexander Gustafsson will clash for a second time. Which man will leave the cage with a new gold belt?

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