Alexander Gustafsson Impresses During and After UFC 165
By Kelsey Mowatt
Heading into last night’s UFC 165 card, depending on who you talked to, Alexander Gustafsson was or wasn’t a legitimate threat to the historic reign of Jon Jones. The UFC did its best to promote “The Mauler” has someone who could test the light-heavyweight, and cited the fighter’s size and reach as key factors. Others, including the Swedish fighter himself, pointed to Gustafsson’s striking and footwork as factors that could challenge Jones. For others, however, there was little doubt that Jones would overwhelm the contender with his wrestling and punishing top game. As a result, “Bones” would have no issues setting a new title defense record at six.
Of course, what unfolded was truly remarkable, as not only did Gustafsson bloody Jones with punches, but the contender defended 10 of the champ’s 11 takedown attempts. If that wasn’t impressive and surprising enough, Gustafsson managed to take the experienced wrestler down. The 26 year-old demonstrated that his overall game is much diverse than many had previously believed.
While Jones, to his credit, battled back in the fourth and fifth rounds and went on to score a unanimous decision, Gustafsson’s standing is considerably higher today than it was yesterday afternoon. In the FOX Sports 2’s post-fight show, UFC President Dana White had this to say about the instant classic:
“It was awesome. Not only did I not expect this fight to go five rounds, I didn’t think Alex would stop Jones from taking him down. In fact it was the opposite. Gustafsson actually took him down.”
“Yes,” White noted, while discussing Jones’ gritty performance. “He’s got an incredible chin and he has unorthodox striking. I know Gustafsson’s hurting right now, but his stock is way up right now too.”
Gustafsson’s impressive performance didn’t end in the Octagon, however, as although it was a tightly contested affair, the light-heavyweight was gracious in defeat. When asked if he believes he should have been awarded the decision, the Alliance MMA fighter stated:
“It’s hard to say. I don’t know. I learned a lot from this fight. He’s the champ. To take the belt from the champ you have to finish him. The biggest lesson is I have to push the pace harder. I just did what I thought I could do and it wasn’t enough. I will come back stronger and better. I’m disappointed, but I’m very proud of what I did and my team.”
So, at a time when some were questioning whether Jones should look to move to heavyweight sooner than later, it appears the star has some work to do at 205. Not only are fans and MMA insiders calling for a rematch with Gustafsson already, but Glover Teixeira is still waiting for his title shot as well.
And as far as Gustafsson’s thoughts on a rematch with Jones? Once again, the contender was far from confrontational.
“Absolutely. I want a rematch right away. But it’s up to the UFC. It’s an honor to fight Jon.”