Going into UFC 165 the pundits and know-it-alls were full of jaded mockery of the UFC's "these guys are TALL" ad campaign. After the fact, it looks like sheer genius since Alexander Gustafsson very nearly shocked Jon Jones and the world. Jones escaped with a unanimous decision win, but his busted up face and deflated manner were proof that Gustafsson was by far the toughest test in Jones's record-setting UFC Light Heavyweight title reign.
Asked after the fight about a possible rematch, Gustafsson was clear that he'll be happy to get an immediate rematch:
"Hard to say [if I did enough to win the fight]," he said. "I don't know. He's the champion for a reason. If you take the belt from the champion, you need to finish him. I didn't get the belt, I'm disappointed. The biggest lesson is that I need to push the pace harder. I have to sit down and watch the tape after this -- I don't remember the fight. I just did what I had to do, but, it wasn't enough.
"I'm disappointed, but I'm very proud about what I did tonight.... I learned a lot. Absolutely, I'm down whenever [for a rematch]. I want a rematch right away if I can, but it's up to UFC. I'm just blessed to be in UFC and it was an honor to fight Jon Jones. I'll be ready whenever they call me."
For his part UFC president Dana White seems open to the notion, but noncommittal:
"Yeah, there's a real good possibility we could do this again. We would give Glover (Teixeira) another fight. Literally, I hadn't even thought about it until you just said it. I like the idea. I think that that fight was awesome. I think that this is one of those fights that people would love to see again. It would be hard for either one of the fighters not to think that they both should rematch."
"Who doesn't want to see this rematch? To be honest with you, I got so caught up in the fight -- and people were yelling at me and stuff and I was yelling back at people -- I honestly didn't' score the fight. When I was leaving the arena people were screaming I had it 3-2 for Gustafsson, and other people were saying I had it 3-2 Jones. And I talked to [UFC Vice President of Regulatory Affairs] Marc Ratner, and he said he had it even going into the fifth round, and he gave the fight to Jones.
"I didn't say we're going to do the rematch, I said I'd like to do the rematch because it makes sense. I'd like it. But first of all, in a fight like this, you've got to let things play out. Jon Jones doesn't even want to hear the word fight for the next two or three weeks, I guarantee that. So we wait. We wait to see what happens, and maybe it's Glover, and maybe it's a rematch, I don't know."
For his part Jones didn't talk rematch before heading to the hospital (where he was joined by Gustafsson) but he clearly respects his foe:
I've been asking for a dog fight for a long time and I finally got the dog fight I've been looking for. I'm not satisfied. I have to do a lot more work in the gym. I spent a lot more time on my boxing in this camp. Maybe that wasn't the best idea. I got to exercise my warrior spirit. I felt really sloppy tonight. Alexander was very game and that guy definitely has a chin on him.
Jones may have enjoyed getting to exercise his warrior spirit but it remains to be seen if he'll want to re-exercise that warrior spirit by giving Gus an immediate rematch.
From a business perspective, a rematch makes complete sense for the UFC. I don't expect Dana White and Joe Silva will be able to resist the temptation to book Jones vs. Gustafsson 2 for Super Bowl Weekend 2014.
SBN coverage of UFC 165: Jones vs. Gustafsson
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- UFC 165 Video: Phil Davis' immediate reaction to the controversial Jon Jones vs. Alexander Gustafsson decision
- UFC 165 results: Jon Jones vs. Alexander Gustafsson highlight video online