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

Morning Report: Alexander Gustafsson says it's 'tragic' not to get another shot at beating Jon Jones for title

  • 27 days ago
  • 13 views

UFC light heavyweight Alexander Gustafsson certainly isn't happy to see now former champion Jon Jones' fall from grace. Gustafsson pushed Jones in the Octagon harder than anyone and while he stumbled read news >>

Alexander Gustafsson reacts to Jon Jones belt strip: 'UFC did him a favor'

  • 27 days ago
  • 126 views

Otherwise, he'll never learn from his mistakes if he keeps gettign passes. Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) officials made the decision to strip Jon Jones of his light heavyweight title and bar h read news >>

Former UFC champ Jon Jones makes first comment since arrest on felony charges

  • 29 days ago
  • 255 views

Jon Jones has broken his silence. On Tuesday night, the former UFC light heavyweight champion made his first public comments since allegedly being involved in a hit-and-run car accident Sunday mornin read news >>

UFC releases statement on Jon Jones' suspension

  • 29 days ago
  • 18 views

The UFC has released a statement after stripping Jon Jones of his light heavyweight title and suspending him indefinitely. UFC announced that it has suspended Jon Jones indefinitely and stripped him read news >>

UFC strips title from champion Jon Jones, suspends him indefinitely

  • 29 days ago
  • 5 views

Jon Jones is no longer the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) Light Heavyweight Champion. UFC President Dana White made an appearance on "FOX Sports Live" earlier this evening (April 28, 2015) to a read news >>

Jon Jones stripped of title, Daniel Cormier vs. Anthony Johnson for belt headlines UFC 187

  • 29 days ago
  • 34 views

The best pound-for-pound fighter in the world is no longer a UFC champion. The UFC stripped Jon Jones of his light heavyweight title Tuesday night in the wake of his arrest on felony hit-and-run char read news >>

Daniel Cormier reacts to Jon Jones getting stripped of title and replacing him at UFC 187

  • 29 days ago
  • 1812 views

As announced on Tuesday night on "FOX Sports Live," Daniel Cormier will now fight Anthony Johnson for the undisputed UFC light heavyweight title at UFC 187 on May 23 in Las Vegas. Jon Jones was strip read news >>

Jon Jones suspended, stripped of title; Daniel Cormier fights Anthony Johnson at UFC 187

  • 29 days ago
  • 47 views

In a bombshell announcement on Fox Sports Live, UFC president Dana White confirmed that Jon Jones has been stripped of his belt, which will now be contested between Daniel Cormier and Anthony Johnson read news >>

'Soul-searching' Jon Jones breaks silence, issues public apology to 'everyone I've let down'

  • 29 days ago
  • 13 views

Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) Light Heavyweight Champion Jon Jones made his first public comments since being arrested on felony hit-and-run charges in Albuquerque, N.M., earlier this week. An read news >>