UFC 165: Will Jon Jones' Reach Matter Against Alexander Gustafsson?

Ron Jayson TimbangContributor IIISeptember 9, 2013

Apr 26, 2013; Newark, NJ, USA;  Jon Jones weighs in for his light heavyweight title bout against Chael Sonnen (not pictured) at the Prudential Center. Mandatory Credit: Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports
Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

To be held on September 21 at the Air Canada Centre in Toronto, Ontario, Canada, UFC 165: Jones vs. Gustafsson features two of the most talented fighters in the light heavyweight division and two fighters who belong in the top list when it comes to tallest height and widest reach in the UFC: champ Jon Jones and challenger Alexander Gustafsson.

Both Jones and Gustafsson have used their reach advantage against past opponents and posed difficult challenges in the striking department as well as in the grappling area with their reach: Jones with 84.5 inches and Gustafsson with 76.5 inches.

The question come fight night is, who can utilize their reach more? Or will advantage in reach matter in this fight?

The X-factor here would be the style of striking of both fighters. Gustafsson employs a fundamental style of striking, throwing jabs and combinations occasionally. Meanwhile, Jones’ striking is very much unpredictable. The champ loves to throw spinning back fists and elbows out of nowhere. And those usually find their way into his opponent’s face thanks to his long reach.

Given that Gustafsson has huge reach himself, Jones still has the edge in reach with eight inches more. If the challenger is not careful in striking exchanges, expect the champ to land some of his signature strikes. Will we see a knockout? It’s not impossible.

Another factor to consider, which may be the deciding one in this fight, is Jones’ takedowns, which he fully utilized in his last title defense against the skilled wrestler, Chael Sonnen, putting the NCAA Division I All-American wrestler on the ground at will. If the champ can take Gustafsson to the ground, he can throw vicious elbows, which he used to finish Brandon Vera, Vladimir Matyushenko and Sonnen. Those elbows are hard to block and time given the length of Jones’ arms.

Submissions are only a second option for Jones due to how effective his ground-and-pound is. Nonetheless, when he sees an opportunity, the champ will surely attempt a submission. His submission wins against Ryan Bader, Quinton Jackson, Lyoto Machida and Vitor Belfort prove this.

Given the number of tools available at Jones’ disposal, including his reach, he might very well win his match against Gustafsson. If he wins, he will pass Tito Ortiz’s record and become the light heavyweight champ with the most number of successive title defenses (six).

With a win, it will also be proved once again that there is currently no one in the light heavyweight division who has the answer to Jones’ reach and skills.