When they first clashed at UFC 165 back in 2013, it was an epic fight. And admittedly, challenger Alexander Gustafsson had given then-champ Jon Jones his toughest fight ever.
But the long-awaited rematch is finally happening at UFC 232 on December 29, and since five years – and a lot of “other” things – have transpired in that time, you have to ask: Is the rematch even worth it?
In case your memory is fuzzy, here’s their first fight:
Okay, now that we’re all on the same page, consider the facts.
- Since losing to Jones, Gustafsson has lost to Anthony “Rumble” Johnson and Daniel Cormier. The Rumble fight was over shockingly quick, and the Cormier fight was for the belt.
- Since defeating Gustafsson, Jones has… done a lot of drugs, and got suspended for it.
- Jones also turned snitch to get his USADA suspension reduced.
- Five years has past since they fought, and fighters aren’t like wine – they don’t get better with age.
So here we have one of the UFC’s few pay-per-view stars in Jones, fighting the guy who gave him his toughest fight years ago. Now, I’m not saying we’re going to see Chuck Liddell vs. Tito Ortiz III, but how good could this fight be?
And looking it at another angle… What if Jones totally smashes Gustafsson. This week one of Jones’ coaches went on about how his fighter is still sharp because of all the layoffs. As per MMAFighting:
“He’s not getting his brains battered in [during his time off],” Gibson explained Monday on The MMA Hour. “He’s not getting concussions, he’s taking care of his body and his mind, and this is such a — at this top one percent, these guys are tough. That’s not an aspect that comes with sparring or anything like that. The time off where we’re not having impact, where his body’s not getting beaten up and broken down, where we’re just continuing to evolve the skill and the technique and the strategy and develop Jon that much more as a martial artist is key. And you said he’s 31, he has a long fight career ahead of him still, and he really feels like this time off has prolonged his career that much more.
It’s likely that’s all crap, but if it isn’t, and Jones wrecks the Swede badly, how many are going to assume that the win is because Jones is a juicer?
Without question, Jones and Gustafsson are elite fighters. And without question, Jones is a screw-up of the highest order. Put the two together for a rematch and what do you have? Either a great fight, or a great fighter with a tainted win, or both.
Again, will it be worth it?