Size matters, but it isn't everything. That's especially the case when you're UFC light heavyweight champion Jon "Bones" Jones.
At 6'4", Bones usually towers over his opponents. He's the rare big man who knows how to fight tall and maintain his length advantage.
However, when he faces Alexander Gustafsson Saturday, Sept. 21, at UFC 165 in Toronto, Bones will not be the bigger man—at least not physically. Gustafsson stands 6'5" and presents Jones with a challenge he's never had to face in the Octagon.
How will Bones perform when he doesn't hold a size advantage? Like a champion.
Jones isn't Tim Sylvia or Stefan Struve. Those are big men whose sizes were their most impressive traits. Ample height and length are just two of the many parts that make Bones the best fighter in the world. Here's why he'll beat Gustafsson.
Being big is great, but being an above-average athlete makes the size all the more dangerous. Gustafsson isn't a complete stiff, but he doesn't possess the dexterity, quickness, agility or flexibility that Jones does.
Gustafsson has struggled to show the ability to bend his long frame when needed. That is what led to his loss to Phil Davis via submission in 2010. Jones has no problem getting low, as he did against Chael Sonnen, or staying high, as he did with Rashad Evans.
Overall, Jones is just a more fluid mover in the Octagon, and his ability to change levels will be key.
Gustafsson's weakest area is his wrestling. Jones doesn't have many weaknesses at all, and wrestling surely isn't one of them. He proved against a master grappler like Sonnen that he could hold his own on the ground. With Gustafsson being less than comfortable in this area, he will be in purgatory if Jones takes the fight to the mat.
Gustafsson's size and length will work against him, and it will leave him open to another submission loss.
Jones, Anthony Pettis and Anderson Silva are perhaps the most dynamic strikers in the sport. Gustafsson has power in his hands and feet, but Jones can attack from more angles and in a variety of ways.
His elbows, knees and feet are equally as dangerous. If Gustafsson rushes in, he could run into a bomb that ends his night in an instant.
Jones' major challenge may come soon enough, but it won't come from Gustafsson. In a dominant performance, Jones will take Gustafsson down and submit him to retain his title.
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