Another one bites the dust. That had to be the sentiment many in attendance had after they watched yet another contender fall by the wayside at UFC 172.
Glover Teixeira had never lost in the UFC prior to facing Jones. With dominant wins over names like Quinton Jackson and Ryan Badder, Teixeira figured to be as game as any contender to throne during the Jones era. He fought the good fight, but like so many fighters who had come before him it just wasn't enough to beat Jon Jones.
Fans and critics had made reference to the length and reach advantage he enjoyed over his opponents as the reason for his dominance over the rest of the division. Could it be that the key to Jones success was his 85" reach?
Enter Alexander Gustafsson. An unheralded contender who stood 6'5" tall and possessed the length to rival Jones. Gustafsson shocked all in attendance at UFC 165, when he not only took the fight to Jones, he arguably won 3 rounds of the fight against the champion. As it would turn out Jones would remain undefeated winning a unanimous decision on all three of the judges scorecards.
All of a sudden there were cracks in the armor. A fighter who had looked unbeatable came as close to losing as humanly possible without going over the cliff. We started hearing those familiar rumblings among the fans, many of them who claimed that Jones success was largely due to the length and height advantages he enjoyed over the rest of division. Gustafsson was the first fighter who measured up to Jones and it had a predictable impact on the fight. The man who had never been taken down in the UFC found himself on his back against Gustafsson. All of a sudden Jones, who had rarely been hit cleanly in his fights found himself getting tagged repeatedly, he was even made to see his own blood as a cut above his eye sustained in the first round continued to bleed throughout the fight.
Despite being down 2-1 and losing the 4th round, he was able to pull out the victory by digging deeper than he ever had to before. He showed more of himself in those last 2 rounds than he previously did in all of his other fights. He had looked into the abyss and managed to return damaged but with championship still intact.
Jones has been the most dominant light heavyweight champion in the history of the UFC, but he needs to beat Gustafsson in convincing fashion to cement that legacy. Fail to produce a dominant win, and the critics will come out in droves. He recently stated that he only went 80% against Gustafsson the first time around. Anything less than 100% won't cut it this time. Is Jones only so dominant because of his size? That question will be answered when the two men face off for the second time.