The Only Other Fight for Alexander Gustafsson If Jon Jones Gets His Way

Kristian IbarraFeatured ColumnistJune 3, 2014

Sep 21, 2013; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; Alexander Gustafsson (left) fights Jon Jones during their Light Heavyweight Championship bout at UFC 165 at the Air Canada Centre. Mandatory Credit: Tom Szczerbowski-USA TODAY Sports

Jon Jones doesn’t want just any title contender standing across the cage from him for his next title defense—he wants an Olympic wrestler. 

The problem is, Alexander Gustafsson, the man who’s already been promised a title shot after first fighting Jones to a close decision in September and then disposing of Jimi Manuwa in March, doesn’t have any Olympic wrestling experience.

In a brief Instagram video, Jones gave insight on why he’s yet to sign on to fight the Swede.

Asking for an undefeated Olympic wrestler, Strikeforce champion makes me somehow a coward? How about the fact that I beat Gustafsson already, whether you guys like how close it was or not? It’s my career, not yours.

It certainly sounds as if the issues are not about moneyhe just wants Daniel Cormier instead. Based on his 15-second video, Jones is pretty firm on his stance.

This poses a question for the UFC: If they give Jones what he wants, who’s next for the No. 1-ranked Gustafsson?

What about former UFC light heavyweight champion Rashad Evans?

Evans has bounced back from the first back-to-back defeats of his career with consecutive victories against Dan Henderson and Chael Sonnen. Like Gustafsson, Evans is a top-ranked light heavyweight who has already lost a title fight to Jones.

Both Evans and Gustafsson could only benefit from a win against the other, especially considering the rest of the UFC’s Top Five light heavyweights already have fights scheduled, are currently recovering from injury or are coming off of one-sided losses.

In Evans, Gustafsson gets a fighter who could help further prepare his takedown defense for a hard-fought bout with a great MMA wrestlerarguably the deciding factor in Gustafsson’s first fight with Jones at UFC 165. 

In Gustafsson, Evans gets a fighter who could help sketch out a better game plan against a taller, longer fighter like Jonescertainly the biggest issue Evans had back in his title shot with Jones at UFC 145 two years ago.

This fight could also help address Jones’ concerns that the UFC is granting all of the top contenders relatively unchallenged journeys toward a title shot. It would effectively create a true title contender and eliminate one of these fighters from title contention for the foreseeable future.