COMMENTARY | At UFC 165, light heavyweight champion Jon Jones and Alexander Gustafsson fought in an epic battle that left both men battered and exhausted. In the end, however, Jones, prevailed and retained his championship title. In that, he became, at least statistically, the greatest 205-pound champion of all time by setting the record for most successful light heavyweight title defenses in UFC history.
Immediately following the excitement of UFC 165, the general public began to call for a rematch between the two light heavyweight behemoths. However, it was recently announced that Jones will face the UFC's No. 2 ranked contender, Glover Teixeira, most likely to occur in February 2014. Therefore, Gustafsson is now presented with a plethora of options. A dominant win over any of the following contenders would more than likely grant the Swede another shot at Jones' light heavyweight title.
Alexander Gustafsson vs. Phil Davis
Leading up to UFC 165, Davis had been the only man to not just defeat Gustafsson, but to finish him as well. The two combatants fought at UFC 112 when Davis sported just a 5-0 record. Despite his inexperience, his grappling skills proved too much for his Swedish counterpart, submitting him at four minutes, 55 seconds of the first round.
If Gustafsson wishes to have a rematch against Jones for the light heavyweight title, another bout with Davis (who is also the No. 3 contender and has won his last three fights) appears to be the most logical.
Alexander Gustafsson vs. Daniel Cormier
No. 2 ranked heavyweight Daniel Cormier is set to face off against Roy Nelson (No. 9) at UFC 166. However, the highly-touted contender is set to make his light heavyweight debut in 2014. Daniel Cormier is also undefeated and an accomplished grappler.
Gustafsson's takedown defense against Jones was impeccable. Therefore, it would be interesting to witness his strategy against an Olympic caliber grappler in Cormier. A fight between the two would assist in redefining the 205-pound division and most likely grant a title shot to the winner.
Alexander Gustafsson vs. Rashad Evans
When Evans (No. 4) fought Jones for the championship title at UFC 145, he found it difficult to strike the champion, due to Jones' height (6'4") and incredible reach advantage (84.5"). The former light heavyweight champion lost to Jones via unanimous decision, and is 2-2 in his last four fights.
Provided Evans is victorious in his upcoming bout against multi-division contender Chael Sonnen at UFC 167, it would be interesting to witness any adjustments in the New York native's game, given that Gustafsson possesses a height (6'5") and reach advantage (76.5") similar to that of Jones.
Alexander Gustafsson vs. Jon Jones II
All of the previously stated matchups are blockbusters and would bestow upon Gustafsson more experience and credibility, as he attempts to acquire a rematch against the light heavyweight champion.
Following his thrilling battle against Jones, Gustafsson stated to Fox Sports:
"I'm down whenever. I want a rematch right away if I can. It's up to the UFC. It's an honor to fight Jones, and I will be ready whenever they call me."
Given the hype and excitement surrounding these two talented fighters, a rematch between Jones/Gustafsson appears to be just a matter of time.
Clinton Alexander Bullock has been a Brazilian jiu-jitsu practitioner for many years. He has studied mixed martial arts for 12 years and has been published in Yahoo News, Bleacher Report, Philadelphia Sunday Sun Newspaper, and Next Step Magazine. Follow him on MMAUnchained.net, Facebook & Twitter @clintonbullock.
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