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UFC & Jones choose path of least resistance

Move along, nothing to see hear. So, there we have it, apparently next in line is Teixeira, and not a rematch of one of the greatest UFC fights we’ve seen.

Those of us who thought we saw a great closely contested fight in which the winner was up for debate before the scorecards were read, were actually mistaken. Instead, according to Jon and Dana, it was a "decisive" win with "no controversy". And the fight to make is not the rematch against the only fighter to actually give Bones a real fight, but next should be the guy who Bader nearly stopped. Hmmm, I don’t entirely agree, but I don’t completely disagree.

To make sense of these statements, and the thinking behind choosing Teixeira, lets do a quick recap of last Saturday and its impact. The fight was awesome, but it wasn’t just awesome because it was a great fight. It was totally against all the so-called experts’ forecasts. Even though I was looking forward to it, the insurmountable amount of opinion from the press and fans that this would be yet another uncompetitive Jones fight greatly reduced my anticipation. Thankfully, experts in the fight business can look anything but, when the "wrong" body falls or the "wrong" hand is raised; or nearly raised.

Height does matter when a fighter has the skills to make it matter. All now know that (along with his tremendous skills) height is a big part of the Bones arsenal, and can be neutralised to an extent by a fighter of equal size and fighting heart. It confused me to read how some in the MMA media chose to belittle height as a contributing factor to Jones’ dominance. It’s not demeaning Jones to say this, anymore than it’s demeaning to Jonny Hendricks to say his success is in part due to his power. They are the gifts given to them. Walking through the "murderers row" of champions had probably given Jones that indestructible feeling that Silva, and back in the day, Tyson, had. Going from his prefight talk, he clearly underestimated Gustafsson’s boxing ability and the problems they would pose. On fight night he found out that the problems were significant. Again, I think Gustafsson’s success in fighting takedowns was due to his training with Phil Davis, but also his physical size. Jones wouldn’t find it as easy to take down a 6ft 5inch man fighting his takedowns, instead of the previous shorter contenders. Gustafsson wasn’t a six foot fighter being picked apart from the outside, or taken down at will when over-committing. Instead, he was able to compete effectively from the outside, making it essentially a competition of outside striking.

At the end of the fight, I had Gustafsson edging it 3 rounds to 2, but was not outraged by Jones getting the nod due to the closeness of the rounds. Watching it again, the second round was the razor close one in my mind, and can easily be given to Jones. The fourth round was all Gustafsson, but that one elbow changed the fight, and gave Jones the victory. However, to describe this as "decisive" as Jones did, is just plain incorrect. It was decisive insomuch as it was a unanimous decision, but only the fifth round was a decisive round for Jones in my humble opinion. You can’t expect the champ to say this though, especially one who clearly has a bit of an ego (seriously Jon, the "only at 70%" quote was disrespectful to Alex. Maybe that 30% was taken away by the giant Swede punching you in the face). However, I can understand that after blasting everyone out of the way, he’s now building himself up. Fighters are known for their monumental egos. Maybe he’ll find that 30% in the rematch, and back up his point. But when Dana White said post fight that the rematch was on the cards, but then said a couple of days later that there was "no controversy", I knew the rematch was dead; for now at least. Dana seems to think that just because he felt the decision was correct, means that we all should close down the debate. Dana has spoken. Well, an awful lot of people disagreed, and the champ got it by the skin of his teeth.

The UFC are promoters, so straight talking Dana (as he loves to remind us) is wearing his promoters hat by saying the above. And it’s a reasonable position to take. Jones won’t admit it, but I’ll wager he wants no Gustafsson for a while (and who can blame him), and would prefer the more limited Teixeira, who he thinks he’ll beat in the manner he defeated Rampage; a fair assessment I think. White now realises that he can build the rematch, rather than just reset and restart. Give Gustafsson a homecoming fight in Sweden; play up the Jones performance, and light the fires of the fans craving the rematch. Meanwhile, Jones is likely to rediscover his form, and confidence, against Teixeira, setting up the fight we all actually want.

I think the rematch will be second verse same as the first (to a degree). To win, Gustafsson has to do as before but try to neutralise the head kicks, and spinning elbows/kicks. If his boxing and take down defence is on point again, then maybe he can get the nod this time. Jones needs to try to be less flat footed if he decides to box Alex, as he was getting tagged repeatedly. Marching forward and controlling the centre of the octagon may indicate control, but not if you are getting tagged in the process. Fightmetric may have him landing more, but stats don’t always tell the whole story. However, I think Jones will learn alot from the first fight, and his mental toughness in coming back to win was incredibly impressive. I’m sure Greg Jackson is studying the tapes as we speak. Who’ll win? The easy choice is to see Jones learning from the shock, and bringing another great performance out of the bag. However, where’s the fun in easy choices. I think it’ll be another barn burner of a fight, but maybe Gustafsson is his Joe Frazier. And Smokin' Joe managed one victory against Muhammad.

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