UFC 165: Jon Jones Will Survive Stiff Test vs. Alexander Gustafsson

Timothy Rapp@@TRappaRTFeatured ColumnistSeptember 21, 2013

Apr 27, 2013; Newark, NJ, USA; Jon Jones  during a press conference after UFC 159 at the Prudential Center. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports
Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

Will UFC 165 finally see the end of Jon Jones' reign of terror on the light heavyweight division when he faces Alexander Gustafsson?

No, probably not. 

While much of the pre-fight focus has been put on Gustafsson's height and boxing ability, the truth is Jones still has the superior reach. There's no doubt Gustafsson is a dangerous fighter and physical specimen who will test Bones, but it's hard to see the champion losing this match.

For one, there is Jones' wrestling. For as good as Gustafsson is on his feet, how will he handle Bones taking him to the mat? For all of his height, how will he handle the unparalleled athleticism of the champ? 

What's more, Jones is smart enough to have studied Gustafsson from every possible angle. He'll come into this match knowing his tendencies, bad habits and techniques. Jones may keep this fight on his feet early to prove Gustafsson's much-publicized height and comparable reach are non-factors, but if he gets in any trouble you can bet he'll bring the challenger to the mat. 

Really, there are only two ways Gustafsson can win this fight, and neither will be any easy accomplishment: He either knocks him out or he goes the distance and wins three of five rounds. The former is always possible and one landed punch away from coming to fruition; the latter seems highly unlikely. 

Dec 30, 2011; Las Vegas, NV, USA; UFC fighter Alexander Gustafsson celebrates against Vladimir Matyushenko (not pictured) during a light featherweight bout at UFC 141 at the MGM Grand Garden event center. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports
Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Yes, if hubris gets the best of Jones and he stubbornly tries to keep the fight off the mat to disprove his detractors, Gustafsson could build some momentum and steal a round. You can bet Gustafsson has carefully studied Lyoto Machida's first round against Jones from 2011. 

He's probably also studied the second round, when Jones responded to Machida's early flurries with a standing guillotine that ended the fight. 

In the end, Jones will probably play Gustafsson's game early, going toe-to-toe with the big Swede in the boxing department. Gustafsson will prove a worthy adversary in that regard, so Jones will turn to his grapple game and begin taking Gustafsson to the mat. 

The challenger will prove resilient for three rounds, but eventually Jones will have his victory, moving to 19-1. 

Jones will win by submission in the third round.

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