UFC 165: Jones v Gustafsson – same, same but different
The UFC held its media conference call last night for the upcoming event, UFC 165. UFC president Dana White chaired the call with UFC light heavyweight champion Jon “Bones” Jones (15-1) and Swedish contender Alexander “The Mauler” Gustafsson (18-1) fielding most of the questions about their fight in Toronto on September 21st. Also on the call was UFC interim bantamweight champion Renan Barao (30-1) and No.4 ranked contender and former WEC bantamweight champion Eddie Wineland (20-8).
Try as they might, the media couldn’t get Jon Jones to say that Alexander Gustafsson was a similar type of fighter to Jones. “The only thing we have in common is we’re both 26 years old and we’re both over six feet tall” was the only similarities Jones was prepared to concede. While only minutes later Dana White reckoned Jones was “fighting a guy who is practically the same as him; same height, same reach.”
Same reach? Surely not. We know Jones has the biggest reach in the UFC at 84 inches but Gustafsson is listed as only having a 76 inch reach on some websites. When someone brought up the reach advantage Gustafsson was quick to point out “My reach is actually 81 inches not 76…I will win this fight by staying on the outside”. Which is precisely how he won his last 2 fights thereby landing him this title shot. Naturally, Jones also likes to strike from range, given his telescopic reach. Gustafsson may shade the striking exchanges at distance, as I reckon he has the better footwork than Jones. I not sure Gustafsson has many other advantages if the fight goes elsewhere.
That’s not to say Jones is ‘home and hosed’. The most dominant light-heavyweight champion in UFC history did acknowledge “I know I’m not unbeatable”. During the call he was constantly reminded of the fall of two other dominant champions, namely Benson Henderson and Anderson Silva. But assured everyone “…that has nothing to do with me”.
Since losing his debut in 2005, Renan Barao has gone 30 fights undefeated (with one No Contest too). He has looked awesome since joining the WEC/UFC, especially his UFC 138 first round victory over Brad Pickett. Though his fight with Urijah Faber to win the interim belt wasn’t the stuff of legend, Barao considers himself the true 135lbs champion even though Dominic Cruz (out for nearly 2 years with injury) holds the ‘real’ belt. “Dominic has been out for 2 years but from the moment I won the title and considering I’ve already defended it once, I consider myself the true champion” Barao elaborated.
The quote of the evening went to Eddie Wineland who has the unenviable task of trying to take Barao’s title from him. Asked if he was daunted at taking on a fighter who hasn’t lost in 8 years, Wineland was pretty philosophical –“He puts his pants on one leg at a time just like me”, so, no, I guess he wont be that daunted by the prospect of fighting Barao.
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Fergus Ryan turned an obsession into some output when he started reporting on Irish and international MMA in 2010. He has contributed to a number of MMA websites and been published in Fighters Only and MMA Uncaged. He currently commentates for BattleZone Fighting Championships and is co-host of The Mixed Martial Arts Review which will be brought to you by Setanta Sports . He will be our lead MMA blogger focusing mainly on all things UFC.
Fergus Ryan, September 2013