It was an absolute thriller of a light heavyweight title fight at UFC 165 as champion Jon Jones and challenger Alexander Gustafsson were embroiled in a classic five-round affair. When the scorecards had been tallied, it was Jones securing a unanimous decision victory to make it an historic sixth straight title defense. “Bones” surpassed former UFC great Tito Ortiz in the record books in what was clearly the biggest scare of his career.
Gustafsson was a huge underdog heading into this fight despite his impressive 15-1 record. While his height seemed to be the one calling card during the promotion for the fight heading in, it’s clear that the talented Swede is a much better fighter than most have given him credit for.
It was remarkable to watch in the opening round as “The Mauler” landed some solid strikes that left the champion bleeding above the eye. Not only was it strange to see Jones cut, it was rare to see him take as many punches as he did during the course of the fight. Another truly unexpected development was Gustafsson’s remarkable takedown defense against Jones, and also how he became the first fighter to ever take the champion down to the mat.
Jones began to get into rhythm with some of his leg kicks and also showcased his unusual striking techniques that featured devastating standing elbows. One of them in particular during the fourth round had Gustafsson reeling and produced a cut in the challenger’s hairline. However, he managed to survive.
The final round saw both fighters embroiled in back and forth action that brought the crowd to a fever pitch at Air Canada Centre. It was clear that a fight that most expected to be yet another dominating defense for the champion had truly turned into something special.
When the scorecards were read, it was a battered and bloodied Jones who received the positive verdicts by scores of 48-47, 48-47 and 49-46. The fight showcased a couple of key things: Jones isn’t as invincible as he seemed heading into the fight, and Gustafsson is a heck of a lot better than most pundits had thought. With this fight producing an instant classic, the chances of an immediate rematch would seem high.
Top contender Glover Teixeira might have to wait a little longer than hoped for to get his shot, but after a battle like fans witnessed Saturday night, the Brazilian would probably understand.
Rick LaFitte is an MMA Writer for Rant Sports