UFC 165 will play host to a Light-Heavyweight title match in it’s main event, longstanding champion Jon Jones will look to continue his domination as he takes on the highly touted Alexander Gustafsson of Sweden.
Bones will not enjoy as much of a height advantage against the taller Gus, but his reach (84.5 inches) still will play a huge factor. Gustafsson’s 76.5 inches will have to be utilized with excellent timing and technique, or he could suffer a long and brutal evening.
First off let’s look at the striking: Both guys hold nine knockout victories each, but Jones has been more inclined to submission wins of late. Until TKOing Chael Sonnen at UFC 159, Bones had only actually scored one TKO win in the two years prior.
Gustafsson has also looked to knock guys out in the past, but more recently his fights have gone to the decision. In the power department it is pretty even, but technique will likely be the difference here. I’d suggest that Jones has too much of a diverse array in the striking department; elbows, kicks, spinning sh*t (to quote Professor Diaz) and rangy striking help make Jones a nightmare at range.
Gustafsson needs to close the distance but also be aware of Bones’ nasty inside elbows, something I’m sure will not be easy. One thing that not may opponents have tried is workin Jones’ legs. Good movement and hard outside kicks could nullify his striking arsenal. I’d give Jones a 65/35 advantage in the stand up striking game.
Next up is wrestling, and Gus is going to struggle in this department in my opinion. Jones is a high school and collegiate All-American wrestler, and his strength in that department is yet to be bested. He has never been taken down in pro-MMA, even having faced such high calibre wrestlers as Chael Sonnen, Matt Hamill, Ryan Bader and Rashad Evans.
Gustafsson’s wrestling has improved following his loss against Phil Davis in 2010, but will it be enough to stop Bones’ shoot? No not in my opinion. 70/30 in Jones’ favour.
Last up is submissions, and this is a close call for me. Although Jones has six submission wins, I actually think Gus is the technically better grappler. A BJJ purple belt and a legit submission grappling championship provide Gus with an edge.
Although Gus only holds three sub wins, I feel like his grappling experience will out play Jones. Bones usually jumps on a quick sub to finish an out struck foe, where as Gus would probably win in an all out scramble on the mat. I’d say its 60/40 for Gus on the ground, it is one hell of a mountain for Gus to climb.