Alexander Gustafsson vs. Jon Jones: Head-to-Toe Breakdown
Alexander Gustafsson's dominant win over Mauricio "Shogun" Rua puts him on a collision course with UFC light heavyweight champion Jon Jones.
At UFC on FOX 5, Gustafsson was brilliant in picking apart Jones' predecessor en route to a lopsided unanimous decision.
The MMA world has talked about a potential showdown between Gustafsson and Jones for over a year. Both of the light heavyweight stars are considered babes of the UFC. Fans have watched them grow from potential prospects to MMA superstars.
Jones, in particular, has surpassed all expectations.
He has only been champion for a little over a year, and fans are already mentioning his name alongside Anderson Silva and Georges St-Pierre as one of the sport's all-time greats.
A plethora of legends have already fallen at the hands of Jones in dominant fashion. Regardless of who he faces, Jones seems to reside on a wavelength of physical and mental superiority that his opponents have yet to comprehend.
Unlike previous opponents, Gustafsson has the physical tools to overcome some of the problems Jones presents in a fight, but would that be enough?
If Jones gets past Chael Sonnen in April, the stars could align for a title fight against Gustafsson.
Here is the head-to-toe breakdown.
Perhaps the most interesting battle in a Jones vs. Gustafsson matchup would occur in the striking department.
Gustafsson is a tremendous kickboxer, who leans heavily on his footwork and long reach to pick opponents apart outside the pocket.
Unfortunately, he would be without this advantage against Jones, who boasts an incredible eight-inch reach advantage.
As shown in the Shogun fight, Gustafsson's striking defense can be porous at times, too. He can leave quite a few openings.
Jones' evolution begins with his striking. He is arguably the best striker at light heavyweight, and his ceiling for greatness still isn't even in viewing distance.
The threat of takedowns would also be a problem for Gustafsson. Jones could utilize feints to keep Gustafsson guessing and help him win out the standup exchanges.
A clear advantage for Jones over Gustafsson would come in the grappling department.
Top light heavyweight contender Phil Davis didn't have much of a problem getting Gustafsson to the ground and locking up a first-round submission a couple of years ago.
Jones has shown the ability to toss around some of MMA's best grapplers, and it's hard to believe that Gustafsson has improved enough in two years to succeed where others have failed.
With that said, Gustafsson has been training alongside Davis ever since the loss to shore up holes in his wrestling.
Gustafsson would definitely present an intriguing challenge for Jones.
However, in the end, it would be the same result with a different opponent. Jones would have his hand raised after a second-round submission victory.
It never turns out well for fighters trapped underneath Jones and his sword-like elbows. Gustafsson would lose out on the standup exchanges and fall victim to takedowns.
By the end of the second round, the Octagon would resemble a CSI crime scene, and a panicky Gustafsson will make the fatal mistake of leaving his neck open for Jones' patented guillotine choke.