UFC light heavyweight Alexander Gustafsson is seen by many as perhaps the biggest challenge champion Jon Jones will have encountered in his career come showtime on September 21 at UFC 165. The streaking Swede is not only supremely skilled, but he is also close to Jones’ age and has some of the same physical intangibles in terms of size.
However, Jones doesn’t see “The Mauler” as a particularly difficult match-up given the level of opposition he’s faced in the past.
“I don’t think he will be my toughest fight, but I need to have that psychology. I realize that he is a young man who is close to realizing a dream,” explained Jones in an interview with MMAFighting. “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.”
Jones was also given the opportunity to face Lyoto Machida again if so desired but passed, pointing to poor PPV numbers from their first fight among other factors as the reason for his refusal.
“If you have a perfectly healthy, young contender who is on a rampage, why not keep new opponents, new excitement for the fans,” asked Jones rhetorically. “Why not get that fight over with? He’s a young guy, and I see myself fighting him throughout our careers, so why not get him past me? Shut up some more critics.”
“Bones” is 18-1 in his career with the lone loss coming as the result of a questionable disqualification. He owns nine wins by way of TKO with another six submissions notched on his record. In Gustafsson he will face a foe boasting a 15-1 mark and past wins over the likes of Thiago Silva, Matt Hamill, and Mauricio Rua.