The Light Heavyweight division has always been a big showcase for the UFC: from Frank Shamrock to Tito Ortiz; from Randy Couture to Chuck Liddell — to the promotion’s most recent “cover boy,” Jon Jones.
Now, fresh off a “Fight of the Year” candidate in Jones’ title defense against Alexander Gustafsson this past Saturday, the tradition continues — as the next chapter of Light Heavyweight history has been set to enjoy another grand stage in February, at Super Bowl weekend in New Jersey.
The unnamed UFC event is said to feature Jones defending his UFC Light Heayweight title — against Glover Teixeira.
“Wait, what?” you ask. “What about the rematch with Gustafsson?”
You’re not alone…
It’s not a slam on Teixeira, who is an excellent fighter with a fine career. It’s just that Gustafsson had a magnificent showing against Jones, taking home the victory by many fans’ estimation. But, the judges saw otherwise.
What better way to end any controversy then by holding an immediate rematch?
Well, Jones doesn’t think so. He even calls the victory “decisive” — irritating many fans.
(Sure, had Jones simply said, “Well, Teixeira has been a contender for a long time and it’s fair he gets the next shot,” or “Gustafsson had a shot, and it was a close call, but I did enough,” then, maybe there wouldn’t be much of a fuss to make. But “decisive?” I took fans to task for not viewing the match objectively, I guess it’s fair to ask the same of Jones…)
Many fans not only disagree with Jones assessment, they thought he lost the bout.
Incidentally, I wasn’t among them. I felt Jones lost the first and second rounds. The third was close, but I was more impressed by Jones’ series of kicks in that round than anything Gustafsson threw. Gustafsson dominated the majority of the fourth, but Jones’ rally was enough to steal the stanza. The fifth was the only round I would describe Jones as winning decisively.
Of course, in the end, we know it’s really UFC that calls the shots. Jones repeatedly confirms he’ll fight whoever is arranged as an opponent.
But, one reason fans are irritated is that UFC likes to bill itself as better than the powers-that-be in boxing in this sense. If one monolith controlled boxing the way ZUFFA controls MMA, we’d all see every fight which we want to see. Floyd Mayweather Jr. would have fought Manny Pacquiao three times by now. Or so the story goes. Sure, boxers probably wouldn’t be compensated like they are now, with no competition between promotions…
…but, we’d see all the fights we want to see. Right?
Not this time.
Fans have every right to feel let down here. The rematch was a natural choice — and it’s disappointing that it wasn’t made. Super Bowl weekend 2014 will still be a historic night, but it just isn’t what it should be.