The UFC 165 main event is now in the books. After 25 minutes of fierce fighting, Jon Jones retained his light heavyweight title in what was undoubtedly the toughest fight he has ever had.
Alexander Gustafsson pushed Jones to the limit, opening a cut over the champ's right eye and keeping the action upright, in his his comfort zone. Though the Swede's bid for the title came up short, it's hard to say Gustafsson walks away a loser.
Coming into the bout one of the focal questions was whether or not Jones would look to use his wrestling. As it turns out, he did, but that didn't produce the result many thought it would.
No, Gustafsson shut Jones' wrestling offense right down, until the final frame. In fact, the Swede landed the only successful shot in the first four rounds.
An even more exhausted platitude coming into the fight was that Jones' perennial reach advantage would be nullified by Gustafsson's size. While the champ still held a reach advantage it was certainly less noticeable than usual.
The collective length led to a ton of kicking, an area Jones excelled in.
But despite questions of Jones' gameplan and Gustafsson's comparable size, most thought Jones would cruise, as he always does. The guy was a 9:1 favorite for crying out loud.
It didn't take long, however, for Gustafsson to show that this would not be a routine Jon Jones fight. Oh no, after just one frame, it was clear that the outcome was very much in question.
Any lingering doubt that Round 1 was no fluke was dispelled when Gustafsson entered a competitive Round 2. Both of the first two frames were tight, but after 10 minutes, it had officially become a dog-fight.
Wow lots of people telling me Gus up 2-0! Never would have predicted that.— Ben Askren (@Benaskren) September 22, 2013
It was more of the same in the Third, but once the championship rounds got underway, the champion took over.
The first four minutes of Round 4 belonged to Gustafsson, though not by a considerable margin. Jones, entering desperation mode, began landing elbows and knees and rocked Gustafsson hard.
The Swede made it to the bell, but received the worst damage of the bout and let slip what may have been the decisive round.
Gustafson barely made it out of rd 4 as jones landed a huge spinning back elbow with 40 sec left 10-9 jones making it 39-37 maybe #ufc165— Sarah Kaufman (@mmasarah) September 22, 2013
The fifth round, though not as dominant as the fourth, clearly belonged to Jones. The question then became, did Gustafsson win the first three, or did Jones sneak one of them out?
As it turned out, Jones did, and he was given the nod by all three judges.
The boos that accompanied the decision demonstrated that the selection was uniform only among the judging panel. But, as is the case with most close fights, disagreement was bound to spring up regardless of the verdict.
Well, people are going to argue who won this fight but one thing they won't disagree about is this IS fight of the night, maybe in history!— Kenny Florian (@kennyflorian) September 22, 2013
It was a sensational bout. While those who believe Gustafsson won will no doubt feel dissatisfied, there are two sentiments I think everyone can agree on.
Wow... I smell a rematch— Carlos Condit (@CarlosCondit) September 22, 2013
We can hope! Jones vs. Gustafsson II sounds oh so right. But it looks like the champ will need some time to rest before getting back into the Octagon.
Jones was loaded into a stretcher and is presumably being taken to the hospital. Far worse shape than Alex, who conducted a few interviews.— Brett Okamoto (@bokamotoESPN) September 22, 2013
Plus, you know, he's got that pesky challenger Glover Teixeira waiting in line to spoil things.
On the whole the title fight was everything we could have hoped for and more. We may not be able to all agree on the score, the winner, or where the match ranks on the all-time best title fights list, but we can all agree that Jones and Gustafsson reminded us why we love the sport of mixed martial arts.
The Twitter universe is in seemingly unanimous accord of that sentiment. What did you think of the action?
Leave it in the comments below.
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