TORONTO – For the second time in less than three months, mixed martial arts’ pound-for-pound kingpin nearly suffered a shocking upset.

However, Ultimate Fighting Championship light heavyweight champion Jon Jones (19-1 MMA, 13-1 UFC) avoided Anderson Silva’s recent fate and edged a resilient Alexander Gustafsson (15-2 MMA, 7-2 UFC) via unanimous decision.

In the lead-up to Saturday’s UFC 165 pay-per-view headliner at Toronto’s Air Canada Center, UFC officials didn’t know exactly how to promote Gustafsson as a viable contender. They focused on the Swede’s height, of all things. Instead, it was his effective game planning, remarkable durability and pure moxie that nearly halted Jones’ new UFC record of six consecutive 205-pound title defenses.

“I’ve been asking for a dog fight for a long time, and I finally got that dog fight I’ve been asking for,” Jones said after the five-round fight.

The first round offered a little of everything, including some signs of hope for the challenger. While Jones, a 26-year-old fighting phenom who’s run through a who’s who of ex-champions, was his usually aggressive and effective self, Gustafasson slowed his attacks with nice counter-punches. He even surprised the champ with a late-round takedown, which marked the first time a fighter had scored one on Jones in 13 UFC fights.

Heading into the next frame, Gustafsson appeared to find confidence. After catching a leg and quickly sending the champ to the mat with a sweep kick, Gustafsson avoided a takedown and showed improved striking defense. He didn’t check every kick and elbow, and some pesky side and front kicks to the shins and thighs slowed his advances. But Gustafsson took Jones’ best shots and returned some solid blows of his own.

After the two close rounds and with Jones’ face showing some heavy swelling and bruising, Gustafsson immediately unloaded a nice combination to start the third round. Jones retaliated with a crisp kick to the face, but with the challenger’s effective takedown defense and increasingly accurate counter-strikes, Jones was forced to throw punches and kicks from distance, which made them easier to deflect. Body shots, though, continued to find their mark, and front kicks to the knee and shins presented problems for Gustafsson.

As the fight entered championship rounds, Jones fired off head kicks and some stiff elbows. Gustafsson, though, continued his surprising takedown defense. Jones’ leg kicks also landed flush, but even deep into the fight, they didn’t really slow the challenger. As Jones’ facial cut gushed blood, Gustafsson fired off smooth combinations as he easily darted in and out of range. But late in the round, Jones finally landed a spinning elbow flush to the forehead, and a follow-up knee had a quickly bloodied Gustafsson on wobbly legs. The bell saved the staggered Swede, but Jones had captured momentum for the final round.

In that decisive fifth round, with both fighters’ faces swollen and bloodied messes, Jones finally secured his first takedown. While such a development would usually mark a significant advantage in a Jones fight, Gustafsson quickly scooted to the fencing and returned to his feet. Both fighters looked for the finishing blow between heavy breaths in the final minutes. Each landed some violent strikes to close out a bout that received a raucous standing ovation.

After a night of questionable scoring, the headliner could have gone either way. Ultimately, though, the judges sided with the champ via 48-47, 48-47 and 49-46 scores. Nearly all the cageside media agreed with the decision.

“He was just a tough fighter,” Jones said. “I spent a lot of time on my boxing in this camp. Maybe that wasn’t the best idea. I should have been like water and used more versatility. But hat’s off to Alexander. That was by far my toughest fight, and I really got to exercise my warrior spirit tonight. That makes me happier than getting the win.”

Gustafsson, who was as much as a 12-1 underdog with some sports books, presented the seemingly indestructible champ the biggest challenger of his career. It was enough to warrant a rematch, though the disappointed 26-year-old wasn’t in a mood to campaign for one.

“I will learn from this, and I’ll come back much stronger from this,” Gustafsson said. “I’m just starting my career, and I have lots of fights to do.”

Up-to-the-minute UFC 165 results include:

For complete coverage of UFC 165, stay tuned to the UFC Events section of the site.

John Morgan, Ben Fowlkes and Mike Bohn contributed to this report on-site in Toronto.

view original article >>

Report here if this news is invalid.

Related News

Jon Jones Takes Plea Deal in Drag Racing Case

  • 14 days ago
  • 37 views

Jon Jones, already on probation for a felony hit-and-run case, accepted a plea deal in Albuquerque Metropolitan Court on Thursday. read news >>

Jon Jones Teases Quick Return from USADA Suspension in Instagram Post

  • 11 days ago
  • 23 views

Jon Jones has had a rough 12 months, but the former UFC light heavyweight champ feels like things are starting to turn around. That seems to be the case, at least, as Jones indicated he may be back i read news >>

Jon Jones Says He’ll Be Back in the Octagon ‘Really Soon’

  • 10 days ago
  • 24 views

UFC interim light heavyweight champion Jon Jones sounds as if he's come into some good news regarding his UFC Anti-Doping Policy case. read news >>

Dana White Says it Looks Like Jon Jones Took ‘Something Else,’ Could Be Good News

  • 9 days ago
  • 107 views

Dana White on Tuesday appeared to back Jon Jones' recent statement that he could be back really soon. read news >>

Anthony Johnson Video: Stop Talking About Daniel Cormier and Jon Jones, I Have to Fight Glover

  • 8 days ago
  • 11 views

Anthony "Rumble" Johnson has a big fight in front of him in the form of Glover Teixeira at UFC 202 on Aug. 20. If it's all the same with you, he'd really like it if everyone would quit asking him abo read news >>

Glover Teixeira Focused on Anthony Johnson, Doesn’t Really Care About Jon Jones (UFC 202 Video)

  • 8 days ago
  • 6 views

Glover Teixeira could be lined up for a title fight is he gets past Anthony "Rumble" Johnson at UFC 202 on Aug. 20, but all everyone wants to talk about is Jon Jones. read news >>

Anthony Johnson vs. Glover Teixeira Results: Winner and Reaction from UFC 202

  • 5 days ago
  • 144 views

In a light heavyweight landscape without Jon Jones, Anthony "Rumble" Johnson is the clear-cut No. 1 contender to Daniel Cormier's throne. That's the statement Johnson went about proving in the co-mai read news >>

Daniel Cormier Calls out Rumble Johnson After UFC 202 Win, Dismisses Jon Jones

  • 5 days ago
  • 16 views

Following Anthony Johnson's 13-second knockout of Glover Teixeira at UFC 202, Johnson immediately called for a rematch against champion Daniel Cormier, who was in the audience. Cormier took to Twitte read news >>

Dana White Wants to Make Jon Jones vs. Anthony Johnson for a Shot at Daniel Cormier

  • 2 days ago
  • 140 views

Anthony Johnson and Daniel Cormier are both ready to rematch each other, but UFC president Dana White may have other plans, which include Jon Jones. read news >>

Jon Jones, Brock Lesnar Suspensions Reportedly May Be Shortened

  • a day ago
  • 66 views

Jon Jones and Brock Lesnar, who each tested positive for banned substances before UFC 200, may face only a maximum one-year ban because the drug they took could have a "credible non-doping explanatio read news >>