UFC 165: Alexander Gustafsson Says He Will Defeat Jon Jones “Standing on the Outside”
By Kelsey Mowatt
Due to the recent accomplishments of Alexander Gustafsson, few fans and pundits would likely argue that “The Mauler” doesn’t deserve to fight light-heavyweight champ Jon Jones at UFC 165. Although the 15-1 fighter hasn’t fought in 2013, and dropped out of a scheduled fight with Gegard Mousasi in April (due to a cut in training), he’s won six straight bouts. Most recently, Gustafsson worked his way to a unanimous decision win over former champ “Shogun” Rua in December, to move his record to 15-1. As a result, even Jones himself called for a fight with the Swedish light-heavyweight.
Despite Gustafsson’s recent run, which has largely come as a result of his highly regarded striking, questions have been raised as to whether his wrestling and ground game can keep up with Jones. The champion has demonstrated on numerous occasions that his top game is something to be feared, and the last man to defeated Gustafsson was decorated wrestler Phil Davis (although Gustafsson has defeated noted wrestlers in Vladimir Matyushenko and Matt Hamill since). While attending a media call recently to promote UFC 165, Gustafsson was asked about what steps he’s taken to negate the punishing ground game of the champion.
“The camp has been great,” the 26 year-old fighter noted. “I’ve been home at Stockholm and I’ve been here at Team Alliance here in San Diego. They’re great coaches, great guys I’m training with here…I’ve just been blessed to have such a good camp and having such great guys around me, so I’m feeling great and I’m feeling ready.”
One of the reasons some fans and critics believe Gustafsson could pose a threat to the reign of Jones, is because of his size and height. Unlike many of Jones’ previous opponents, Gustafsson is just as tall as the champion at 6’4. While he doesn’t have the same reach as Jones, the light-heavyweight believes he has the skillset and make-up to defeat Jones (18-1) while fighting from the outside.
“Ya, I will win this fight, standing on the outside,” said Gustafsson. “No doubt about it.”
Perhaps one of the reasons Gustafsson feels so confident in this respect, is because apparently his reach has been incorrectly reported in some circles. In other words, the reach advantage Jones will have is not going to be as great as some initially thought.
“I’ve been training with a lot of guys who are similar to Jones in many different ways,” Gustafsson said about preparing for Jones, who is coming off a first round stoppage of Chael Sonnen in April. “I try to always be a better Alex for every fight. That’s what I’ve tried to do. I’m training my ass off. I just do improvements every day. I’m feeling great and I can’t wait.”
“My reach is not 76.5; it’s 81.2,” Gustafsson added, while discussing his reach and how he will counter the 84.5 wingspan of Jones. “I just want to mention that.”
UFC 165 will be hosted by Toronto’s Air Canada Centre this Saturday and the main card will be broadcast via pay-per-view. The card will also feature interim bantamweight champion Renan Barao battling Eddie Wineland.