White announced Friday night at the UFC 161 pre-fight presser that Alexander Gustafsson will get the next shot at Jones this September. It will be a refreshing respite from all the ineligible opponents who have received title shots these days across the entire spectrum of weight classes in the UFC.
Aside from all the shenanigans in the UFC’s respective divisions, Jones has defended his light heavyweight belt against two middleweight fighters, one of whom (Chael Sonnen), was coming off a loss.
It wasn’t that shocking to hear the Jones vs. Gustafsson news, since most media members and fans alike have been talking about Gus’s chances against Jones for some time now.
Recently Gus tweeted Jones in excitement on their potential matchup. What began as friendly jabbing, quickly turned sour, and could be foreshadowing the potential for this one to turn ugly, early.
“Its on @jonnybones cant wait to get in that cage with YOU!!!” said Gus.
“Fighting me is not good for your image @alexthemauler FYI,” Jones responded.
“@jonnybones if you think of what is good for your image, maybe you should continue to fight this 185ers??” said Gustafsson.
With these two feuding already, expect the UFC, media members, and even the fans to start billing this one as a grudge match. But don’t be mistaken for what it really is. It’s a true championship fight.
Sure Lyoto Machida is the number one contender, but he was unceremoniously dispatched by the champ in the past.
“I said that we will give the fight to Lyoto Machida,” White told mmafighting.com. “But, Jon Jones was like, ‘I annihilated Machida, I already fought Machida, I annihilated him, and I’ve never fought Gustafsson… me and Gustafsson have some beef and that’s the fight I really want.'”
In the wake of fighters earning their keep through running their mouths, Gus has done it all with his hands, elbows, and submission skills. He’s on a six fight win streak against the likes of Mauricio Rua, Thiago Silva and Matt Hamill.
His only career loss was against Phil Davis, who out muscled him with a first round anaconda choke submission. Nothing to be ashamed of, and definitely not something indicative to how far Gus can take his career at this point.
Jones has said before he would like to fight Gus since they both have the similar weight cut and body type. He commented on the speculation he’s received on his past exploits, which pretty much entail cleaning out the entire division from top to bottom, that people believe he wins through having a superior body type, not superior skill.
Well Gus has a similar body type, and more importantly, it means new blood for Jones, as opposed to a rematch, something he doesn’t see any of his opponents deserve, or even more importantly, anything that the fans would like to see at this point.
In response to being told Lyoto would be next, Jones had this to say to the media about why he campaigned for Gus:
“…but I did mention to Dana that I had already defeated Lyoto, and the UFC 140 pay-per-view numbers were pretty terrible. If you have a perfectly healthy, young contender who is on a rampage, why not keep new opponents, new excitement for the fans?”
It’s important that Gus believes in himself, even if it goes as far as disrespecting the champ. If he’s going to take the belt, the process to being a champion starts now. But regardless of what he may say or do, Jones is a tall order to fill for anyone, and until the big day in September at UFC 265 arrives, no one is going to believe it until they see it, including Jones.
“I don’t think he will be my toughest fight,” said Jones to mmafighting.com. “But I need to have that psychology. I realize that he is a young man who is close to realizing a dream. You know, a lot of the guys I have fought have already had title shots before, but this is his very first title shot. I’m sure he’s going to be extremely motivated.”