Opinion: Alexander Gustafsson Has Right Attitude Heading Into UFC 165
By Michael Hatamoto
UFC light heavyweight contender Alexander Gustafsson seems to have the right mentality as he heads into his title fight against dominant champion Jon Jones.
Even with Gustafsson’s 6-foot-5 frame, which the UFC continues to hype, he still will have to deal with a major reach disadvantage against Jones. Jones has a crazy 84.5” reach – the longest in the UFC – while Gustafsson has a 76.5” reach. Gustafsson says he has an 81.2” reach, however, so it’s hard to know which side to believe.
Here is what Jones recently said during a UFC 165 conference call:
“I don’t really agree with any of the comparisons. I think the only thing me and Gustafsson have in common is that we’re both 26 years old and the fact that we’re both over 6-foot-4 tall. Outside of that, we are completely different fighters. I’ve been able to study him a lot over the last several months, and I realized there’s absolutely nothing he does that’s like me. We’re just completely different. We have the same height and age, and that’s absolutely it.”
Jones has a freakish reach and great athleticism, and he’ll be able to land shots against Gustafsson during their five-round fight. His domination of Chael Sonnen, Vitor Belfort, Lyoto Machida, Quinton “Rampage” Jackson, and others wasn’t a mistake – and Gustafsson should present a tough challenge – but I think it won’t be too long before Jones finds his rhythm.
If Gustafsson tries to stay on the outside and use his reach, like he said during the conference call, this could end up being a very bad strategy. If anything, Gustafsson will need to try and land shots from the outside, use footwork and try to land a couple of shots on the inside, and then continue to mix things up.
I like Gustafsson, but I don’t think him – or any light heavyweight, actually – has the chance to beat Jones at this point. Until he decides to move up to heavyweight, Jones should continue to dominate the division for as long as the UFC can find challengers for him.