UFC 165: Jones vs. Gustafasson

The UFC visits Toronto and the main event of UFC 165 tonight features a very interesting battle for the Light Heavy Weight crown between Champion Jon Jones and Swedish challenger Alexander Gustafasson. The rest of the 165 card is decent, but Jones vs Gustafasson stands out as the most intriguing fight of the evening in my opinion. In the wake of the recent by Anderson “Spider” Silva to Chris Weidman Jon Jones is now widely acknowledged as the best pound for pound MMA fighter in the world and whenever he fights it is a must see event for serious MMA fans. A strong case for Jones being the PFP best could have been made prior to Silva’s defeat, but now that case is very difficult to dispute.

Jon “Bones” Jones, 19-1, (-850) vs. Alexander “The Mauler” Gustafasson, 15-1, (+550)

Vegas has installed Jones the heavy favorite for this fight and I understand that and agree that he should be. I think very highly of Jones and always have. Just read some my previous blog posts about him. He does everything well and can win via a KO or a submission. He is always in good shape and is always well prepared by his trainer, Greg Jackson. It is hard to envision a scenario in which he would lose to any top ten fighter in the LHW division if he is at his best.

However, I still think Gustafasson has a legitimate outside shot of scoring an upset and being crowned the new UFC LHW Champ. I usually don’t feel that way when the odds are this lopsided, but Gustafasson is a very good striker (9 KO’s) and is a very well rounded MMA fighter in other respects. Gustafasson was a relatively weak wrestler and his only loss occurred a few years ago to Phil Davis, a former D-1 wrestling champ. What did he do in response to that? He started training with Davis at the Team Alliance gym in San Diego (Chula Vista) and now he has developed good wrestling skills, which he will need against Jones, who is an excellent wrestler.

At 6’5″, The Mauler also presents Jones with a challenge he hasn’t faced before, an opponent who is actually taller than he is, by one inch, although Jones still maintains a reach advantage (84.5 inches vs 76.5 inches). Both fighters are 26 years old.

So here I am making the case for Gustafasson, but would I bet on him if I was in Vegas right now? Maybe a small bet because the payoff, but I really think Jones is going to win. However, Jones is such a heavy favorite I think betting on him is relatively poor value proposition. I don’t think betting on any MMA fighters at -700 or higher is advisable if they are facing a capable opponent and I think Gustafasson falls into that category.

Jones wins by TKO in the 3rd round.

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