Jon Jones' Near Loss Proves the End Is Near for His Title Run
Jon "Bones" Jones barely escaped UFC 165 with a victory and his light heavyweight title after the challenge of his life against Alexander Gustafsson. There's no question the end is near for his epic title reign.
Since winning the belt against Mauricio Rua back in 2011, Jones has been on an impressive six-fight winning streak as champion (including his win over Gustafsson on Saturday night). It's a UFC record for title defenses in the light heavyweight division that won't soon be broken.
But the record was almost destroyed before it got off the ground as Gustafsson did a remarkable job giving Jones a run for his money. If there was no blueprint before on how to beat the 26-year-old phenom, there is now.
Gustafsson took Jones' aggression and used it against him early. With great counter-punching, Gustafsson was able to stave off the champion's striking in this fight and score the first takedown against Jones in his UFC career.
After seeing that, it looked as though Jones would go the way of Anderson Silva, who was another great champion on a winning streak that fell unexpectedly to a tough opponent, Chris Weidman. In fact, it had that kind of result written all over it.
However, Jones adjusted enough in this fight and was able to become more effective as it wore on. He was able to score with strikes from a distance and eventually got a takedown on the challenger in the fifth round.
The razor-thin decision and his beat up face proved just how tough of a night Jones had. It's actually astounding that the champion was able to emerge victorious under such circumstances and several title defenses already before this one.
Jones' run is now historic, which obviously means it's a very difficult thing to do. The time comes for all champions to lose and it was quite possible Jones' time was last night if not for his all-time skills saving the day.
Complacency is often an issue for great fighters that are on the level of Jones. Too many easy, uneventful fights in a row and an ascension to the top of the sport as the best fighter, like Jones has accomplished, can lead to champions not taking their opponent seriously.
After all, Jones is already considered one of the best ever to grace the octagon, so there wasn't much left for him to prove. It would have been a major disappointment had he lost, but it wouldn't have exactly destroyed what has been an incredible career up until this point.
Ultimately, complacency wasn't the problem here as Gustafsson was prepared to the fullest extent and used Jones' strengths against him. His length also taught future opponents that Jones is susceptible to defeat against bigger fighters than he.
The fact that Gustafsson scored a takedown will give challengers of Jones something to point to that shows he simply isn't invincible in the octagon.
Intimidation as a result of past success is a big part of what makes Jonsz so tough to beat, but upcoming fighters can have confidence knowing he can be brought down if the conditions are right.
Who stands the best chance at knocking off Jones?
This was the kind of fight that showed some chinks in the armor that can be exploited. After watching what Gustafsson was able to do at UFC 165, it's just a matter of time before the champion falls, which can happen sooner rather than later.
The problem for Jones is that Gustafsson deserves a rematch for the light heavyweight crown. That's right, Jones may have to go right back into a match with the man that challenged him like no other after he heals up.
If Dana White wisely decides to go with Gustafsson over Glover Teixeira or any other fighter, that could spell the end for Jones as titleholder if Gustafsson can be successful in making the most of his advantages over Jones next time around.
If not Gustafsson, then someone else will get to Jones knowing what we know today. He is no longer thought to be unbeatable by any stretch and as all great champions before him, Jones' time will come when he isn't the one with his hand raised at the end of a fight.
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