Months of bottled-up emotions finally spilled over for Jon Jones on Monday, when he addressed his ongoing rivalry with Alexander Gustafsson.
Speaking with Fox Sports, the UFC light heavyweight champ claimed he lost respect for Gustafsson. He even went as far as labeling the Swede a “delusional” fighter who has too many people on Twitter telling him he’s the real champ.
“I respected him a lot more before we fought,” said Jones. “I'll tell you what, he has so much arrogance for someone who didn’t win.”
Some call it the greatest title fight in UFC history.
For five rounds, Jones and Gustafsson exchanged blows in the center of the Octagon at UFC 165 back in September 2013. Jones, who had appeared invincible in every other fight, had finally found the dogfight he was searching for. The bout represented an unexpected treat for fans, as most expected Jones to walk right through Gustafsson with relative ease.
But after the first round, it became clear that Jones had finally met his match. Gustafsson matched wits with Jones in every aspect of fighting in a bout that left both men exhausted, battered and bloodied.
It was a close fight that could have gone either way, but in the end, all three judges scored the contest in favor of the champ.
Jones told Fox Sports:
I find it funny, because Gustafsson lost the fight fair and square. I will admit he won Round 1 and Round 3, but that's it. I won the fight. I've never heard someone chirp so much who lost. I could see if I poked him in the eye and the fight had to be stopped or I caught him with a big punch while he was winning and it was a fluke or something. But it was nothing like that.”
Other than questioning the UFC’s matchmaking on Twitter, Jones has remained relatively quiet about "The Mauler."
However, the same can’t be said about the No. 1 UFC light heavyweight contender.
Just a week ago, Gustafsson told Bleacher Report he is a very bad matchup for Jones and the champ is trying to avoid him as long as possible. The idea of Jones ducking him has been something that Gustafsson has floated around in several interviews, including a one-on-one with BT Sport’s Gareth A. Davies on UFC: Beyond the Octagon.
According to Jones, Gustafsson had “every opportunity to seize the moment” and win the fight, but he wasn’t able to get the job done. The last couple of rounds were two of the more convincing rounds in the entire fight, and Jones won both of them.
“We fought our hearts out,” Jones said. “I proved that I have three times the heart that he did.”
Jones also added, “He needs to close his mouth and go back to the drawing board, and humbly come back for a second chance.”
Gustafsson is next in line to challenge the winner of Jones and Glover Teixeira at UFC 172 for the light heavyweight title.
If Jones gets past Teixeira, the seeds have already been sown for one of the biggest grudge matches in UFC history.