What Should Be Next for Jon Jones—Teixeira or a Rematch with Gustafsson?
Up to the point where he stepped inside the Octagon on Saturday night, Jones had been virtually untouched in his UFC career.
He went to a couple of decisions and got caught in a deep armbar from Vitor Belfort for a few seconds, but ultimately he still came away smelling like roses with a shiny, gold belt around his waist.
The oddsmakers had Jones secured as a ridiculous 8-to-1 favorite going into the fight as well, so it was being treated like a foregone conclusion that he was on his way to victory. Gustafsson had plenty to say about that.
Over the course of 25 minutes, Gustafsson gave Jones everything he could handle and more.
The Swedish light heavyweight busted up Jones' face with repeated shots to the head, opening several wounds that gushed blood and even managed to land a few straight to the mush, which forced the champion to walk into the fifth and final round with a mouth gaped open begging for air.
On Saturday night, Jones wasn't better than Gustafsson in any of the ways he was supposed to be, but he still managed to put together the right combination of kicks and elbows over the course of five rounds to get the decision victory.
When it was all over, there were more than a few unhappy fighters watching from home that didn't believe Jones should walk out with his belt.
Think we have a new champ. But wow, great fight!!!!!— michael (@bisping) September 22, 2013
Since the day Jones started competing in the UFC, no fighter has presented a challenge to him the way that Gustafsson did on Saturday night. He stuffed the champion's takedown attempts at every turn, opened up cuts and landed strikes like never before.
The end result was a loss according to the judges, but both fighters ended up in the hospital after an epic war. Now there is a very important question looming overhead—should Jones face Gustafsson again in an immediate rematch or should a top contender like Glover Teixeria get his shot?
Right now the easy answer is Gustafsson because of how close his fight with Jones was at UFC 165.
He pushed the champion further than anyone has even come close to accomplishing, and once could argue that he not only deserves a rematch, but that he should be the one wearing the belt right now.
Meanwhile, Teixeira sits on the sidelines after knocking out Ryan Bader in early September and earning the next shot at the title. He said following the conclusion of UFC 165 that he scored the fight 49-46 for Jones, meaning he gave four rounds to the incumbent champion and only one round to the challenger.
Teixeira also had to be watching the fight, seeing what Gustafsson was able to do to Jones and start to believe he could do the same or better if he got his chance to compete in the cage with the UFC's most successful light heavyweight champion.
Rematches of great fights in MMA are almost always a losing prospect because they rarely live up to the original, and they are always held in comparison.
The first bout between Forrest Griffin and Stephan Bonnar has been regarded for years as one of the greatest fights of all time, but the rematch was forgettable and most of the time we all kind of pretend that it didn't even happen.
There are rare exceptions, however, like Frankie Edgar and Gray Maynard going to battle in back-to-back fights, although in that case it was because the first fight ended in a draw.
Edgar really is the poster boy for automatic rematches because he had two in a row with Maynard, two in a row with Benson Henderson and two in a row with B.J. Penn.
In this case, as great as Jones vs. Gustafsson was at UFC 165, the champion won and the challenger was defeated.
If the reverse had happened, we'd be looking at this much like the Chris Weidman/Anderson Silva fight and subsequent rematch. A long reigning champion is defeated, it seems only fitting to give him a chance to reclaim his crown.
Gustafsson wasn't champion, and before Saturday night, he was touted as an unlikely contender that wasn't supposed to really give Jones any problems. He showed up in a big way, and pushed the champion further than any fighter ever has before, but his chance to get a second shot should go through at least one more contender before the rematch happens.
Let Gustafsson heal up, and watch UFC 166 when Daniel Cormier will have his last fight at heavyweight before dropping to 205 pounds. If Cormier is successful, match him against Gustafsson and then there is no denying the winner a shot at the title.
In the mean time let Jones face Teixeira and see if another fighter can solve the puzzle the way Gustafsson did at UFC 165, or if he really was just the perfect storm that landed on the championship shores in Toronto that night.
Damon Martin is a Featured Columnist for Bleacher Report
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