It’s rare that a big boxing match lives up to the hype nowadays. Anyone who watched last week’s Floyd Mayweather-Canelo Alvarez fight last week knows what I’m talking about.
But it was nice to see a big-time UFC fight exceed the expectations of what was supposed to be a solid, if not spectacular, main event between light heavyweight champion Jon Jones and Alexander Gustafsson at UFC 165.
Jones, the brother of Ravens defensive lineman Arthur Jones and Patriots defensive end Chandler Jones, was one a nine-match winning streak and looking to join an elite group of 10-straight wins (Anderson Silva, Georges St-Pierre, Royce Gracie).
It took all of his fortitude to join that club. And stave off what would have been his first loss other than a single disqualification in December 2009 (19-1).
Gustafsson was as game as any opponent in Jones’s career. The fight turned into an all-time classic with Jones winning by unanimous decision (48-47, 48-47, 49-46).
But truly, they just beat the hell out of each other. In fact, after the fight, both men had to skip out on the media session due to their injuries. Jones had to be helped out of the cage and taken to an ambulance. And he was the winner!
Gustafsson busted open Jones’s right eye in the third round and blood poured out for the rest of the fight. It looked like Jones was in real danger as Gustafsson blocked every attempt at a takedown by the former junior college national wrestling champion.
The first three rounds were very even, but when the fight moved to the fourth, Jones started to assert himself. He caught Gustafsson with a wicked spinning elbow right to the top of the head, stunning the challenger. Jones never seemed to be able to capitalize on the shot though. He pounded Gustafsson with jabs and a few high knees, busting him open as well.
Jones continued his surge in the final round, and finally took the Swede down for the first time. But Gustafsson shuffled to the cage and managed to get back to his feet despite his obvious lack of energy. As Jones said after the fight, “He has quite the chin.”
Let’s just say, that even Jones eeked out a win, the rematch should already be in the makings.
Follow Metro New York Sports Editor Mark Osborne on Twitter @MetroNYSports.