Jones vs Gustafsson: Breaking Down the FightMetric Numbers

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Jones vs Gustafsson: Breaking Down the FightMetric Numbers
Tom Szczerbowski-USA TODAY Sport

Jon Jones successfully defended his light heavyweight title for the sixth straight time at UFC 165, defeating Alexander Gustafsson via unanimous decision. 

While the result is consistent with what we have thus far seen from Jones, the manner in which he achieved it was not.

Never before has the champion been pushed like he was on Saturday night.

Never before has the crowd held its collective breath as the decision came in.

The decision stands as a controversial one. Many believe the challenger did enough to strip the belt from the champion. In any close bout there is bound to be some divide in opinion, so the controversy here should come as no surprise.

He says this, she says that—everyone has an opinion on the fight. But what about the numbers? What do they say?

Here we will take a look at the Fightmetric results from Saturday's main event. 

Jones vs. Gustafsson Fight Stats
Fighter Sig. Str. Sig. Str. % Total Strikes Takedowns Takedown %
Round 1
Jones 28 of 39 72% 28 0 of 3 0%
Gustafsson 19 of 48 40% 19 1 of 1 100%
Round 2
Jones 26 of 42 62% 26 0 of 3 0%
Gustafsson 15 of 51 29% 15 0 of 1 0%
Round 3
Jones 29 of 42 62% 30 0 of 0 0%
Gustafsson 26 of 64 41% 26 0 of 1 0%
Round 4
Jones 27 of 49 55% 28 0 of 3 0%
Gustafsson 26 of 60 43% 26 0 of 1 0%
Round 5
Jones 24 of 45 53% 25 1 of 2 50%
Gustafsson 24 of 65 37% 28 0 of 4 0%
Total
Jones 134 of 217 62% 137 1 of 11 9%
Gustafsson 110 of 228 38% 114 1 of 8 13%

http://hosteddb.fightmetric.com/fights/index/4420

The numbers here support the decision, though acknowledge that the fight was a close one. 

Jones was consistently the more accurate fighter, but Gustafsson kept busier.

It's also worth noting that Jones continually peppered the legs of Gustafsson while the Swede went upstairs more often, something not explicitly noted by Fightmetric.

In a sense, the leg-kick output from Jones is comparable to Mauricio Rua's dismantling of Lyoto Machida—a fight that was far more one-sided, but that Rua actually lost. No such (poor) luck for Jones at UFC 165, though.

Jones out-landed Gustafsson in every round but the fifth and matched him for takedowns as well. Based purely on the stats, this fight looks like a possible 5-0 wash in Jones' favor.

But the numbers don't tell the whole story.

Gustafsson was the aggressor in the early rounds, moving in and out, pressuring Jones. He took a ton of kicks for his efforts, but landed the only significant head-shot, even opening a large cut on the champion's eyebrow.

Gustafsson was given two rounds on two scorecards and it's very likely that in both cases, those rounds were among the fight's first three.

I had Gustafsson up 2-1 after three, giving him the first and third, and I don't think I'd change that even looking at the numbers. 

Round 4 was firmly Gustafsson's until the last minute, when Jones opened up with a barrage of elbows. Though on paper the round is a toss up, the actual damage done was pretty one-sided. That doesn't show up here.

Gustafsson was wobbled and may not have made it to the bell if there had been another 20 seconds left in the frame.

The fifth was dead-even in terms of significant strikes, and actually favored Gustafsson in total strikes, but Jones once again did more damage and finally landed his much sought-after takedown.

Across the board the numbers are close, which is indicative of how the fight went. Just as the decision went, Jones holds a slight superiority.

While these numbers are not the be-all, end-all of scoring, they at least suggest that there was no "robbery" here, just a very close fight that the three judges saw for the more accurate competitor.

I scored the fight 48-47 for Jones. I can understand why some would score it the same way for Gustafsson. 

Often people point to fight stats to say they are right and you are wrong about a decision. While that will be the case for some matches, all I see when I look at the numbers is a case that cuts both ways, telling no decisive story. 

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