May 26, 2017

UFC Fight Night 109: We're Two Steps Away From the Jones vs. Gustafsson Rematch

By Adam Martin

In September 2013, UFC Light Heavyweight Champion Jon Jones put his title on the line at UFC 165 against Alexander Gustafsson at Air Canada Centre in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. At the time, Jones was the top pound-for-pound fighter in the world and had been destroying everyone in his path. Gustafsson, meanwhile, had a nice string of wins going, but there were very few people picking him to win the fight, or even be competitive in it.

Then the fight came, and it was a masterpiece of mixed martial arts fighting. In the first round, Gustafsson shocked the MMA world when he was the one who took Jones down, winning the round in the process. The second and third rounds were closer, with the two men splitting the rounds. The fourth round was going Gustafsson’s way until Jones dug down deep and hit Gustafsson in the head with a spinning back elbow, which changed the complexion of the fight. Then Jones was able to win the fifth round and take home a close unanimous decision, although to this day there are still fans who are convinced Gustafsson was robbed.

After UFC 165, there were many fans and even media calling for an immediate rematch because the fight was so close. But the UFC decided to go another route, instead booking Jones against Glover Teixeira at UFC 172 and Gustafsson against Jimi Manuwa at UFC Fight Night 37. Both Jones and Gustafsson won their respective matches, which set up the potential for the rematch, but Daniel Cormier moved down to light heavyweight and got the title shot instead.

Jones beat Cormier at UFC 182, and all Gustafsson needed to do was beat Anthony Johnson at UFC on FOX 14. But Gustafsson got knocked out in the first round, which killed any hopes of the Gustafsson vs. Jones rematch, at least for the time being. And after Jones was stripped of his title for a hit-and-run incident, and later suspended after testing positive for performance-enhancing drugs, and with Gustafsson losing a couple more fights and contemplating retirement, it seemed like for a while the rematch every MMA fan wanted would never happen.

Skip a few years ahead, and now in 2017 it’s possible we finally get to see the long-awaited Jones vs. Gustafsson rematch, but first two things must happen. The first is that Jones must defeat Cormier at UFC 214 this summer and reclaim his belt, but that won’t be easy. Not only will Jones have to deal with ring rust against an elite fighter in Cormier, he will also have to not screw up before the fight actually takes place, which is no sure thing for him. The second thing that must happen is Gustafsson must defeat Teixeira this weekend at UFC Fight Night 109. It’s a fight he should win on paper, but MMA takes place in a cage and not on paper, so that’s no sure thing.

If everything goes according to plan, both Jones and Gustafsson will win, setting up the rematch for a blockbuster pay-per-view event near year’s end, perhaps in New York in November or in Las Vegas in December. Either way, this rematch is the UFC’s best-case scenario, as it’s the fight the fans want to see and the fight that will make the promotion the most money.

The UFC braintrust has everything set up the way they want it, and now it’s up to the fighters to do their part. Jones needs to get by Cormier and Gustafsson needs to get by Teixeira, and if those two things happen, then we’ll finally get the rematch we’ve been waiting four years for.

UFC Fight Night 109: Gustafsson vs. Teixeira takes place May 28, 2017 at Ericsson Globe in Stockholm, Sweden.

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