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UFC 232 video recap: Jon Jones stops Alexander Gustafsson to win back title

In the UFC 232 main event, Jon Jones re-captured the light heavyweight title with a third-round TKO over Alexander Gustafsson.

Jon Jones made a triumphant return to the Octagon on Saturday night.

In the main event of UFC 232, Jones defeated Alexander Gustafsson for the second time to once again become the UFC light heavyweight champion. The fight took place at The Forum in Inglewood, California. Jones first beat Gustafsson in September 2013 during his first reign as light heavyweight champ.

This was Jones’ first fight since July 2017, when he knocked out then-champion Daniel Cormier to re-capture the title. But after a Jones positive drug test, “DC” was reinstated as titleholder and held the belt until Friday, when he relinquished it. He would have been stripped at the commencement of Jones vs. Gustafsson 2 had he not given the title up earlier this week.

Jones showed minor signs of ring rust, similar to his interim-title victory over Ovince Saint Preux in April 2016. He was perhaps slower than usual, but “Bones” still did more than enough to get the job done over Gustafsson, who gave Jones his toughest challenge to date in 2013. Saturday’s fight was more or less a one-sided, methodical display for Jones, who offered more offence than Gustafsson on the feet in the form of punches and many kicks. Gustafsson had limited output in the striking department; Jones avoided most of his shots, not allowing the Swede to do much at all. Gustafsson was unable to find his rhythm before it was too late — Jones was simply the better man.

After a clear first two rounds, Jones took Gustafsson down in the third round and landed vicious ground-and-pound, quickly forcing referee Mike Beltran to intervene.

What was the highlight of the fight?

Jones has always been elite everywhere, but as time has gone on, we’ve seen less and less of his ground game. Jones vs. Gustafsson 2 was mostly a striking affair, but once Jones got Gustafsson down in the third round, it was the beginning of the end for “The Mauler.” He wasn’t able to get up, and Jones very quickly and efficiently found the shots needed to put his opponent away in the long-awaited rematch. To be exact, it took Jones one minute, 27 seconds to finish Gustafsson after taking him down. That’s not much time, and it’s even more impressive when you consider Jones got Gustafsson out of there just moments after taking his back and securing a more dominant position. Jones’ tactics used to advance on the ground was the highlight of his successful, title-winning return to the cage.

Where do these two go from here?

At light heavyweight, it’s unclear whom Jones could defend his title against first. I don’t find fights against Anthony Smith, Jan Blachowicz, or Corey Anderson to be all that intriguing. A fight against Dominick Reyes could be interesting down the road, but not now — Reyes needs more time to develop and at least one more big win. That leads me to heavyweight champion Cormier. Initially, I had little interest in a trilogy fight, but with both Jones and Cormier holding UFC titles right now, and with Cormier’s time as an MMA fighter coming to an end, I think now’s the perfect time to run it back. But only if it’s at heavyweight, with Cormier defending against Jones. I don’t want to see Jones vs. Cormier 3 at 205 pounds.

As for Gustafsson, he finds himself in a rough spot. He is one of the few fighters in UFC history to go 0-3 in title fights (losing to Jones in 2013 and Cormier in 2015 before tonight), and won’t find himself in another anytime soon. Gustafsson is still one of the better light heavyweights in the world, but his time as a legitimate contender may slowly be coming to an end. I believe he can still hang with most of the top five and certainly top 10, but don’t be surprised to see someone like a Reyes or Thiago Santos jump over him pretty soon.

Watch now, later, or never?

Whether you like it or not, one of the best fighters ever in Jones is back. Watch his title win over Gustafsson right away.

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