UFC 165: Jon Jones Says Age And Height Are All he Shares With Alexander Gustafsson
By Kelsey Mowatt
As is the case with any great champion when they’re next fight is approaching, the media and fans tend to speculate on if and why this challenger could be the one to end their reign. In the case of UFC light-heavyweight champ Jon Jones, the renowned fighter has continued to answer questions regarding his skill set in impressive fashion, by defeating noted grapplers and strikers to date.
While Jones has taken out decorated wrestlers like Chael Sonnen, and punishing finishers like Lyoto Machida and “Shogun” Rua, some observers believe he has yet to fight someone like Alexander Gustafsson. As the narrative goes, the Swedish contender is taller, bigger and rangier than many of Jones’ opponents to date, and as a result, his stand-up skills could present a challenge for the champ. In fact, Gustafsson’s make-up has prompted some pundits to conclude that “The Mauler” is similar to the champion. It’s an argument that Jones clearly doesn’t agree with.
“I don’t really agree with any comparisons,” Jones said on a media call Tuesday to promote his September 21st, UFC 165 bout with Gustafsson. “The only thing that me and Gustafsson have in common is that we’re both 26 years old. We’re both over six feet tall, over six-four, 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 nothing he does that’s like me…We have the same height and age; that’s absolutely it.”
Jones repeated on the call that he studies footage of his opponent’s fights, and the Jackson’s MMA light-heavyweight has captured headlines in the past, by commenting on other fighter’s skills. For example, following Glover Teixeira’s stoppage win over Ryan Bader at UFC FN 28, Jones noted the rising contender is “like” “Rampage” Jackson but with “better grappling.” He’s also questioned the cardio of Daniel Cormier publicly, who has made it be known that he intends to drop to 205 and hopes to fight Jones at some point.
“I definitely think they’re all major challenges for me, but at the same time, it’s like an honest assessment of where they match up with me,” said Jones, while discussing the comments he’s made. “I think being in this position, it’s important for me to look at mixed-martial-arts almost as a coach, but I also have to remember that I’m also a student. At this level of fighting where I’ve been able to compete at, you see things, and unlike the fans you look at it with a more realistic view.”
After knocking out Jared Hamman in his Octagon debut in 2009, Gustafsson was handed a unanimous decision loss by highly regarded wrestler Phil Davis in April, 2010, which marked the last time he’s lost. Since then, Gustafsson has gone on to win six straight fights, and has largely turned to his striking game to defeat noted vets like Thiago Silva and former champ “Shogun” Rua.
So what does Jones think of Gustafsson and his striking? While still discussing why and how he evaluates fighters, Jones offered this:
“People are saying ‘oh Gustafsson, he has the best footwork, and he has the best boxing, and then you really look at it and you’re just like ‘what are you talking about?’ Look closely, look really closely, so it’s like, I don’t know, I look through very true eyes. That’s the only way I can win these fights. I have to have an honest assessment of myself, an honest assessment of my opponent, and then I mix it all together and I come up with this formula of how to win the fight.”
“You just have to be real. If your opponent is terrible on the ground, or if he’s terrible at this or really good at this, you’ve just got to respect what he’s really good at bring to a light what he’s not very good at. Just come up with a very honest assessment.”
UFC 165 will take place September 21st at Toronto’s Air Canada Centre. The main card will be broadcast via pay-per-view.