UFC light heavyweight champion Jon Jones will look to defend his title for a record sixth time when he takes on Alexander Gustafsson in the UFC 165 main event. He’s a huge betting favorite going into the fight and almost everyone believes he’ll retain his belt. The biggest question is will he wrestle or strike with Gustafsson to do it?
Jon Jones has a knack for wanting to defeat his opponents by taking away what they do best. Take a look at his past fights:
- Chael Sonnen (Sonnen is a wrestler….Jones took him down almost instantly in the first round)
- Vitor Belfort (Belfort’s biggest strength is his punching/striking/speed…Jones took him down once)
- Rashad Evans (Evans is a wrestler who prefers to strike…Jones stood with him the entire fight)
- Lyoto Machida (A striker that Jones chose to strike with the entire first round before ending it in the second)
- Rampage Jackson (A striker that Jones chose to stand with for the most of the fight)
- Ryan Bader (A wrestler who Jones took down immediately as the fight started)
You get the picture.
Gustafsson is a striker first and foremost who will be the first fighter that could arguably negate the huge reach advantage that Jones has over all of his opponents thus far. Gustafsson uses range well and moves quite a bit around the octagon, almost like a light heavyweight version of Michael Bisping with a tad more power. Gustafsson has been as high as a +700 underdog according to the betting experts, but if Jones decides to stand and strike with Gustafsson those odds should decrease quite a bit in my opinion. I’m not saying that Gustafsson would knock Jones out, but it’s not exactly like Jones is an absolute killer on the feet either. I could see Gustafsson possibly edging a close decision due to his volume striking and use of footwork in the octagon.
The ace that Jones holds is his wrestling prowess. He should be able to take Gustafsson down at will if he chooses to do so. Once there, it’s all but over as Jones possesses the kind of ground and pound that turns guys faces into hamburger meat.
So will Jones strike or wrestle with Gustafsson? It’s probably a combination of the two similar to the Machida fight. Jones will strike with Gustafsson for a round or two then take the easiest path to victory, which is putting Gustafsson on his back doing damage from top position.