The UFC is going out of 2018 swinging, having scheduled one of the biggest main events in the company’s history. Co-headlining the main event is Amanda Nunes versus Cristiane ‘Cyborg’ Justino, which many see as a battle between the two best pound-for-pound women’s fighters in the UFC right now. Alongside this colossal matchup, Jon Jones will be making his long-awaited return to the UFC by fighting an old foe, Alexander Gustafsson.
When first they met, Gustafsson shocked the world of fight fans by making Jones look less than unbeatable. It was a true rumble for the ages, with the fight swaying in momentum throughout, eventually seeing Jones take a seventh light heavyweight title defense in a row. With the first fight producing such an astonishing display from both fighters, and the duo sitting at number one and number two in the rankings, it seems like the perfect place to set the return of ‘Bones’.
Despite being inactive since his knockout win over Daniel Cormier, which was overturned in the aftermath of the bout due to Jones having been guilty of various infractions, the bookies still have the 31-year-old American as the heavy favorite to win at UFC 232.
Jones expected to defeat Gustafsson again
— Watch UFC on BT Sport (@btsportufc) October 10, 2018
Source: BT Sport UFC, via Twitter
Jon Jones will have been absent from the octagon for 16 months come fight night, with his ban being lifted this November. So, it would be fair to expect someone who’s coming back from such a lengthy absence, which was mired by controversy, to be fairly close in the odds for their upcoming, top-class fight, and yet Jones sits at -275 to win the bout.
This may, in part, come down to the fact that Jones’ lengthy absence mirrors his usual scheduling since he last fought Alexander Gustafsson in 2013. He went on to battle and defeat Glover Teixeira in 2014, Daniel Cormier in 2015, Ovince Saint Preux in 2016, and then Cormier in 2017. While the span of months between each fight varied, it’s clear to see that time off doesn’t appear to impact Jones.
In fact, the time between bouts may be one of the reasons why Gustafsson is such a long shot at +225, given that his last fight was in May 2017 – two months before Jones’ second bout with Cormier. Both fighters may be coming into the octagon with a little bit of ring rust, but given the drive and quality of both, we should still see them perform to their highest levels. With this assumed, Jones gets the nod over Gustafsson in the bet365 sport betting as, after all, many rate him to be among the very best of all time.
Two top contenders meet again
— The MMA Bible (@TheMMABible) October 10, 2018
Source: The MMA Bible, via Twitter
Jones vs. Gustafsson in 2013 produced one of the greatest UFC fights of all time, marking one of two times that the Swede came incredibly close to earning the light heavyweight title. The UFC 165 bout saw Gustafsson rain down on the seemingly unbeatable Jones for the first two rounds, but then Jones showed his warrior mentality to swing the fight in his favor over the next few rounds.
Gustafsson has proven that he’s an almighty competitor who’s worthy of sitting among the very best of his division, but he’s come up short by fine margins against Jones in 2013 and then Daniel Cormier in 2015. Despite the controversy, Jones maintains a near-perfect record, with the only blemish overlooked by most fight fans due to nature of his disqualification loss to Matt Hamill.
The two will meet in the octagon again on December 30, hopefully rekindling some elements of their grand meeting in 2013.
Embed from Getty Images