Despite UFC promo efforts, don't expect Jones-Gustafsson to be game of inches


jon-jones-53.jpgBased on the ads I’ve seen for UFC 165 so far, we’re in for a thrilling contest of measurements on Saturday night.

I don’t know if you’ve heard this yet or not, but Jon Jones, the UFC light heavyweight champion? Yeah, he’s kind of tall. He has long arms and legs, too. Probably has something to do with how tall he is.

But wait! The challenger, Alexander Gustafsson, is also tall. A little taller than Jones, in fact, though his arms and legs are not quite so long (but they are longer than people think, so there).

Point is, two tall guys with long limbs are going to get in that cage in Toronto this weekend and, I don’t know, take turns getting stuff off the top shelf or something.

I don’t totally blame the UFC for acting like this is a fight that’s going to be determined by slashes on a ruler. More than anything, it’s a testament to Jones’ dominance as champ. When you’re trying to sell tickets and pay-per-views, it helps if you can convince people that there is at least some doubt about the outcome. Jones makes that difficult at times, though I’m not sure it’s his height and reach that account for it.

It’d be one thing if Jones was beating everybody from a great distance. If he stood on the outside of each opponent’s range, peppering them with faraway punches that no one could get inside of. And sure, he has that option when he wants it. Getting close enough to hit him without swallowing a mouthful of leather is its own problem, but not one that has proven to be impossible.

In fact, you look at Jones’ recent wins and you see a lot of violence that took place up close. Either on the mat or in the clinch, the problem most opponents have run up against is not that they can’t reach him, but that they can’t do much about it once he’s on top and in their faces. Given that track record, it’s not so surprising that those in the Gustafsson camp are shrugging off any and all height and reach concerns leading up to this fight.

“I think Alex has a speed advantage,” Eric Del Fierro, one of Gustafsson’s coaches at Alliance MMA in San Diego, told me last week. “I really don’t think range is going to matter that much.”

Fellow UFC light heavyweight and Alliance MMA sparring partner Phil Davis concurred. It’s nice to be able to reach out and hit someone who can’t do the same, he pointed out, but in MMA, where the option for clinch fighting and takedowns and thigh-tenderizing leg kicks provides plenty of opportunities to do something other than stand at the end of someone’s jab, it’s not enough just to have long limbs.

“It’s about your technique, your footwork, and what you’re able to do with it,” said Davis. “That’s where Alex is as good as anybody in the world.”

If anything, maybe trying to sell Gustafsson on the basis of height and reach alone is too dismissive of the actual skills that got him here.

Then again, as Jones has been quick to point out, just because the two fighters have similar dimensions doesn’t mean they share too many other common traits. They have different styles, different strengths, different resumes.

As Jones boasted on a recent conference call, “(I’m) fighting against the best guys in the world, and a lot of them never even get a chance to punch me in the face throughout the fight.”

Does anyone really believe that a couple inches in height or reach would have made all the difference in those situations?

Maybe not, but you’ve got to tell the people something. At least it’s no worse than promising that their heads might explode.

For the latest on UFC 165, stay tuned to the UFC Rumors section of the site.

(Pictured: Jon Jones)

view original article >>
Report here if this news is invalid.

Related News

  • 23 days ago
  • 2 views

The game of musical chairs has continued for Chris Beal at next week’s UFC Fight Night 50. With Dustin Kimura out, Beal now meets “TUF 14? hopeful Tateki Matsuda in Connecticut.Filed under: MMA Rumor read news >>

  • 21 days ago
  • 2 views

Carlos Diego Ferreira showed he has a striking game to go with his slick ground work as he stopped Ramsey Nijem on Saturday night. read news >>

  • 21 days ago
  • 11 views

SACRAMENTO, Calif. -- T.J. Dillashaw knew something about Joe Soto that the general public refused to believe: This his short-notice challenger was one tough hombre who was better than the fact he ha read news >>

  • 16 days ago
  • 11 views

LEDYARD, Conn. – Despite a spirited effort from Takeki Matsuda, “The Ultimate Fighter 18? veteran Chris Beal toughed his way through obstacles and earned a unanimous decision.Filed under: News, UFC read news >>

  • 14 days ago
  • 35 views

The reaction of the MMA media to Bellator's farcical promo for Tito Ortiz vs. Stephan Bonnar has been split, but being talked about is a nice change for Spike TV's cage fighting promotion. Friday nig read news >>

  • 11 days ago
  • 0 views

Local Phoenix fans taking in the UFC's first visit to Arizona on December 13 will see a familiar face in lightweight action, as Jamie Varner fights at home for the first time since 2010 against Drew read news >>

  • 8 days ago
  • 0 views

BRASILIA, Brazil – Leonardo Santos’ smothering ground game denied “The Ultimate Fighter 8? winner Efrain Escudero a win in his third UFC stint. Filed under: News, UFC read news >>

  • 5 days ago
  • 3 views

Riding the longest bantamweight winning streak under the UFC banner, Raphael Assuncao is tired of waiting. Assuncao couldn’t get his title shot at UFC 173 in May due to a rib injury. T.J. Dillashaw n read news >>

  • 28 days ago
  • 21 views

TULSA – Chas Skelly scored a quick submission win over Tom Niinimaki to score the quickest victory of his pro career.Filed under: News, UFC read news >>