Posted 09/17/2013 by Marlene Taborda in Untethered MMA

UFC 165: Jones vs Gustafsson Preview

By Mike Fagan, September 17th, 2013 

UFC 165′s sub-headline is “Greatness Within Reach.” That’s a pun. Because, you see, the headliners, UFC light heavyweight champion Jon Jones and his challenger Alexander Gustafsson have long arms. (Well, one of them, anyway. More on that later.) And hell, what better way to market a fight than “Hey look at these guys with their freakishly long arms!” It’s what sold Stretch Armstrong vs. Dhalsim and Manute Bol vs. the Long Arm of the Law.

Forget about Jon Jones setting a record for consecutive light heavyweight title defenses with a win. Forget about setting up Gustafsson as the man in the way of all that. Nah. Long arms! Like, their arms are really long! They can, I don’t know, reach up above the cupboard drawers to get down that mixing bowl you got when Grandma died that you haven’t used, well, since you got it because nothing is sadder than being reminded of your dead Grandma quite like a 30-year-old plastic mixing bowl. And when they keep you at arm’s length, it’s more like two arms’ length, am I right!

The UFC refuses, for whatever reason, to promote their dominant champions dominance. Jones is Fedor Undefeated, he’s riding a ten-fight winning streak, and he’s about to defend his light heavyweight belt for the sixth time in a row. Gustafsson is a solid, young fighter, who also happens to be an 8-1 underdog. So why promote this in some weird way? Jones is a monster. Promote him as said monster. This isn’t rocket science.

-Just when you thought the marketing couldn’t get any weirder, the UFC releases a new promo video. Watch it. OK. You done watching? If you didn’t watch it, I’m going to know. Seriously watch it. I’ll wait.

Heads exploding! The action might get so intense your head explodes!

Can I be honest? I actually kind of liked this. For a minute. You see, this is so weird, so absurd, that I had to give the UFC (or its marketing company) some credit for going all Monty Python with this thing. As of this writing, the video has 1,143 likes and 1,143 dislikes. That’s great, because a lot of dumb people don’t get fun shit like this.

But then I found out this played off something called “exploding actresses.” And now it’s dumb again. It’s one thing to come up with some weird and silly on your own. It’s another thing to co-opt someone else’s weird and silly thing and think it’s a fun way to promote your cagefight.

-Speaking of exploding, Jon Jones’ toe! Chael Sonnen survives another 27 seconds at UFC 159 and things get mighty interesting. Jones’ toe looked like someone Goodfella’d a neck with a string of piano wire. This was in Jersey, so had a referee, doctor, or commission official spotted the toe, the fight was in serious danger of being stopped. Though I suspect Greg Jackson would have caught the toe before anyone else, stomped on the foot to shield it from view, and sold Jon some fake scripture about Jesus hating the big toe.

-Back to that reach. FightMetric (the UFC’s official stat provider) lists Alexander Gustafsson’s reach at 76.5 inches. Now Gustafsson’s running around – probably because of this stupid marketing effort – telling people “Nah, my reach is actually 81.2 inches.” So, either the UFC’s been using a faulty number for years or Gustafsson is a pathological liar or he’s playing mind games (with his arms!) or there’s something tremendously wrong with someone’s measuring skills. Hopefully, the UFC plans on measuring both guys’ reach at the weigh-ins because I’m not sure I can live in a world where a guy’s reach is in such dispute.

-Gustafsson called Jones a “little brat in an adult’s body,” which you can add to Dan Henderson’s description of Jones as “fake” and Rashad Evans’ “fake and a fraud” charge.

This is the frustrating thing about Jones. In the cage, he’s awesome. Must-watch. Sublime. One bad mother fucker.

Outside the cage, Jones seems like a barely-tolerable human being. He’s a 9 on the Ben Henderson Christ Licking Scale. He has two children out of wedlock, which is whatever, but is the weirdest fucking thing when you spout said Christ rhetoric. (Kudos to whoever wrote the “Personal Life” section of Jones’ Wikipedia page. That’s some super subtle diggery at the top there.) He says he’s humble, but his actions say anything but. Which, again, would be great if he just cut the faux-humble crap.

This isn’t good heel heat like a Chael Sonnen or Josh Barnett or Josh Koscheck. It’s X-Pac heat. Jones isn’t unlikeable because he’s an asshole or he beat up all your favorite fighters. He’s unlikeable because he’s a wiener.

-Some statistic tidbits courtesy of Mike Bohn at MMA Junkie: 1) As mentioned, a win gives Jones six consecutive defenses of the light heavyweight belt, taking sole possession of that record from Tito Ortiz. 2) That string of title defenses will put him third all-time in the UFC behind Anderson Silva (10) and Georges St-Pierre (8). 3) A seventh win in a title fight will put him into third place behind Matt Hughes and Randy Couture (9) and Anderson Silva and Georges St-Pierre (11).

-Saturday night’s winner will meet Glover Teixeira next. Well, if that winner is Jones or if Gustafsson finds a way to beat Jones decisively. Because if Jones loses some bullshit decision or suffers some freak injury, let’s just say Glover’s gonna find himself with some more “visa issues.”

Let’s also note that Gustafsson-Teixeira would have been a great title eliminator. Here’s their combined list of UFC wins:

Ryan Bader

Quinton Jackson

Mauricio Rua

Fabio Maldonado

Kyle Kingsbury

Thiago Silva

Vladimir Matyushenko

Matt Hamill

James Te-Huna x2

Cyrille Diabate

Jared Hamman

You have an argument for a title shot with that list of names. It’s a great progression, anyway, and it’d be hard to find someone with a better resume at the moment at 205 pounds. But those wins are split up between the two, and while they aren’t bad, it is a pretty weak set of guys. You don’t see Rashad Evans or Phil Davis or Lyoto Machida’s names on there.

So instead of watching Gustafsson and Teixeira really earn their shot at Jones, we have two rushed contenders with very little mainstream appeal or momentum. Jones’ Belfort-Sonnen-Gustafsson-Teixeira run is going to look like Silva’s Cote-Leites-Maia.

-UFC 165 is the first double title fight since UFC 152, which featured Jon Jones vs. Vitor Belfort and Demetrious Johnson vs. Joseph Benavidez.

-It seems like it’s been over a year since Barao last fought, so I went to check how long he’s been inactive and how long the bantamweight division has been put on hold. Turns out he fought in February on Fuel. So, according to 99% of the civilized world, he hasn’t fought in over a year.

-Remember, Barao is still only the interim champion, despite Dominick Cruz’s layoff hitting 721 days on Saturday.

-This is Matt Mitrione’s first fight since the UFC suspended him for “transphobic remarks” regarding Fallon Fox back in April. The UFC lifted that suspension after two weeks. Mitrione will have gone 168 days between fights, which is…a normal turnaround for a non-injured UFC fighter. That showed him!

-Brendan Schaub competed at the last Metamoris grappling event against Roberto “Cyborg” Abreu. It did not go well. For him or the audience. Bloody Elbow’s TP Grant called it “the jiu jitsu equivalent of Kalib Starnes vs Nate Quarry.” Schaub’s last MMA fight was no better, laying on a one-dimensional Lavar Johnson for three rounds, earning an ugly decision in the process.


Mike Fagan is a weekly contributor to MMA Owl. He also hosts Untethered MMA every Thursday at 7 p.m. ET at, also available as a podcast via iTunes.




Marlene Taborda