In Round 1 of the new classic between UFC light heavyweight champion Jon Jones and top contender Alexander Gustafsson, the challenger landed a left hand. Only one knuckle landed, but that was enough to peel skin from bone, opening up an ugly cut along Jones' eyebrow. The ring doctor, at every opportunity, took a peek at the gaping wound.
Eighteen minutes later, after dozens of punches from the hard-hitting Swede had landed to Jones' head, the ringside doctor had seen enough. He wanted to wave things to a close.
According to an interview that aired on Fox Sports 2's UFC 165 post-fight coverage between UFC President Dana White and Fox Sports reporter Ariel Helwani, if not for impassioned pleas from Jones and for the fight's referee, veteran third man in the cage "Big" John McCarthy, we would have a new light heavyweight champion right now.
Jones, obviously, took a huge amount of damage over the course of the fight. By the end of the brawl, his lips were fattened, his forehead and eyebrows were covered in welts, his nose was possibly broken and both of his eyes were nearly swollen shut. A doctor's stoppage, while perhaps warranted given the location and severity of the cut, would have been a major disappointment.
This isn't the first time Jones has come dangerously close to a doctor's stoppage.
In his UFC 159 bout with Chael Sonnen, Jones dislocated his left foot's big toe so badly, it broke through the skin and was an open, gaping wound. While Jones went on to win via first-round TKO, if the fight had gone to a second round it almost certainly would've been called off by the doctors.
Obviously, Jones would go on to defeat Gustafsson via unanimous decision. Still, it's very interesting to wonder what might have been.
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