UFC 232: Jon Jones vs Alexander Gustafsson Preview
By Alex Conway
The return of Jon Jones has once again not been without controversy. But admit it, it’s always kind of fun, isn’t it?
Coming off his second run-in with USADA and an 18-month suspension, Jones is taking on Alexander Gustafsson in a long-awaited rematch from their classic title fight in 2013.
The belt currently belongs to both competitor’s rival Daniel Cormier, who will vacate the title the second the first punch is thrown in Saturday’s UFC 232 main event in California.
Did I say California? That’s right. A fight that was originally scheduled for the T-Mobile Arena has been moved to The Forum in Inglewood, California due to some residual effects from Jones’ last mysterious run-in with PED’s that we wont touch on in this preview.
On to the fight, which should be a good one despite (or because of?) all the pre-fight drama that surrounds it.
This is the second long lay-off of Jones’ career, but he has competed more recently than Gustafsson. Cage rust might be a factor, but at least it would be dispersed equally amongst both fighters. You might see a slow start, but I’d argue you would have seen a feeling out process regardless.
The first fight was frantic and it took both competitors a little bit of time adjusting to fighting someone their own height. Both guys are among the taller athletes in the UFC’s light heavyweight division, but they will have fought each other once before.
There was a lot of talk that Jones didn’t take Gustafsson seriously and didn’t train the way he should have. I highly doubt that will be the case this time around. Jones is a superior wrestler and I expect that to become a huge factor in this fight.
Gustafsson has decent takedown defence but not he’s not unstoppable in this regard and we haven’t seen him tested too often from his back. Jones has excellent ground and pound, with slicing elbows that can cut. He’s also got a well-rounded submission game and Gustafsson does have submission loss on his record against now teammate Phil Davis from back in 2010.
Few fighters will have more to prove coming into a fight than Jon Jones will at UFC 232.
For everything he’s accomplished to this point, there will be many who will never believe he did it clean after the multiple run-in’s with USADA. There are fewer that will view him as a fan favourite. But his talent can’t be denied and that talent is probably the most of any fighter the UFC has ever seen.
Jones’ fight IQ is also one of the best in the game and his ability to execute a game plan is top notch. Jones’ ability to dictate where a fight takes place is the reason I’m picking him to finish Alexander Gustafsson on Saturday night.