Their first encounter at UFC 165 in 2013 grabbed the MMA world’s attention thanks to Gustafsson’s gutsy underdog performance. Now the long anticipated rematch is here!
On December 30 2018, Jon “Bones” Jones and Alexander “The Mauler” Gustafsson will face each other in the UFC octagon again when they headline UFC 232 at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada.
Here, we look back at their first encounter and what it means for the rematch.
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UFC 165: Jon Jones VS Alexander Gustafsson
Though their first encounter saw Jones emerge victorious, Gustaffson took him to the brink. Jones cemented his name as one of the best mixed martial artists on the planet when he won his first UFC world championship at only 23, making him the youngest UFC champion ever. But in 2013 a still rising Gustafsson gave him what Jones himself described as the hardest fight of his career. The Swede was widely considered to be the heavy underdog with few experts picking him to cause what would have been a huge upset by beating Jones.
“I didn’t train as hard as I should have,” Jones admitted of his first time facing Gustafsson. “I was winning so many fights. I was being a wild dude, and I was still winning, and it caught up to me. It definitely caught up to me.”
Gustafsson, on the other hand, came prepared.
Early in the fight, he delivered a sharp right eye to Jones cutting him badly. The five rounds that followed reached a turning point when Gustafsson, seemingly on his way to victory, received a spinning back elbow from Jones that ultimately swung momentum back in Jones’ favour, as he ground out a unanimous decision victory. Some have argued that had Gustafsson only managed to avoid the blow and the subsequent 30 second barrage from Jones the outcome of the fight would have been very, very different.
Their fight was later named 2013 Fight of the Year by World MMA Awards, and has since been acclaimed as one of the best fights in UFC history, with a rematch long anticipated by fans and pundits.
UFC 232: The Rematch & Tensions Ahead
Today, that rematch is finally a reality, and comes amid rekindled tension between the two fighters. A November press conference saw Jones step out and push Gustafsson, in what The Mauler deemed to be a sign of insecurity.
“I don’t know where it came from, he just pushed me,” he said. “He took a step a front of me, so I took a step in front of him, and then he just pushed me. He doubts himself and he’s very insecure. That’s my feeling, that’s what I felt when he did that. It’s not really like him, doing that stuff.”
Their relationship has never been an easy one, and the last showdown between the two in 2013 landed both Jones and Gustafsson in the hospital. Now that Jones knows what to expect from his Swedish counterpart, will he come better prepared for his latest comeback or will Gustaffson be able to go one better and claim the biggest win of his career?
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