Tom Szczerbowski-USA TODAY Sports
Jones came from a wrestling background, but he's developed into one of the best strikers in the light heavyweight division. Some of that has to do with the champion's incredible reach, but it is more so a product of his opponents having to worry about the takedown while Jones comes at them with strikes.
The threat of a double-leg takedown forces Jones' opponents to carry their hands lower in preparation to defend. Gustafsson already has a tendency to drop his guard when standing, so his striking defense likely won't undergo much change at UFC 165.
However, Gustafsson's bad habit in past fights provides some examples of how successful Jones should be on Saturday.
In his fight with Rua, Gustafsson carried his lead hand low and in position to counter (top left). When "Shogun" pressed forward, though, Gustafsson would drop his right hand while countering with the lead hook (top right). That allowed Rua to land his left hook (bottom left) and follow up with a right hook (bottom right), as Gustafsson didn't bring his counter back to his chin.
Jones frequently throws a left straight that will punish Gustafsson for this type of mistake at UFC 165.
Worse than simply dropping his hands while countering, Gustafsson moved straight backward, while dropping his hands against Rua. He got away with it on occasion against Rua due to a reach advantage, but Jones will be able to move forward much more quickly than Gustafsson retreats.
The yellow line in the above shot stills indicates Rua's line of attack during a second-round combination. Notice how close Gustafsson stays to that line throughout the barrage that sees him hit by a left hook and straight right hand.
Remaining on that plane allows Rua to tee off without having to shift direction, meaning he's able to maintain power throughout the combination due to his carrying momentum.
More notably, though, Gustafsson's backpedaling eventually leaves him trapped against the fence with his hands down. This is a bad place to be against any opponent, but Jones is especially dangerous when his adversary is backed into a corner.
It's where he put Lyoto Machida to sleep. It's where he forced Rua to tap due to strikes. And it's where he's taken many an opponent down. Jones essentially does what he wants with opponents in this situation.
When Jones has foes trapped against the fence, he forces them to stay put.
As Rua tried to circle away from the bad position (top right), Jones landed a lead-leg side kick that buckled the Brazilian's knee. Immobilized, "Shogun" then ate a 1-2 combination without being able to touch Jones with a counter (bottom).
Gustafsson is a solid offensive striker, but he leaves too many openings defensively that a fighter like Jones can exploit repeatedly. Despite his reach, Gustafsson gets hit at a higher percentage than Rashad Evans and Quinton Jackson, two opponents whom Jones picked apart when standing.
If you exclude his knockout win over Rua, which began with ground-and-pound, Jones is still looking for his first standing knockout victory. Despite all the talk that Gustafsson's length could be the answer to Jones' dominance, this matchup actually provides the champion with a fairly realistic chance of scoring a stand-up knockout win.