Alexander Gustafsson came THIS close to dethroning reigning UFC light heavyweight king Jon Jones in September. Since their controversial instant classic at UFC 165, Gustafsson has accused Jones of doing everything in his power to avoid a rematch.
Gustafsson did his job in securing a sequel by dominating Jimi Manuwa in March. Jones followed suit in last month’s decision win over Glover Teixeira. Now that the stars are in place, UFC president Dana White promises he’ll make them align in 2014 – much to Gustafsson’s pleasure and Jones’ alleged dismay.
“If you don’t think I want to make that fight this year, you guys are crazy,” White stated this weekend. “That fight will happen. I think [Jones is anxious for that rematch], contrary to popular belief.
“You’re going to have the Jon Jones haters. No matter what this kid does, they’re not gonna like him, but I don’t know how you can’t respect what this kid’s done. I’m very brutally honest, to the point where it hurts some of my relationships … and I truly believe that Jon Jones won that fight against Gustafsson.”
In beating Gustafsson, Jones became the UFC’s most decorated light heavyweight champion at just 26 by posting his sixth straight title defense. Prior to meeting “The Mauler,” Jones appeared head and shoulders above his peers and well on his way to becoming the game’s GOAT.
While Jones is still on the path towards greatness, Gustafsson took him to uncharted territory and might be the kryptonite to Jones’ Superman. That’s why Gustafsson, who believes he was robbed in their initial encounter, claims Jones is trying to duck him.
White says the right man won in Part I, and while he doesn’t think Jones is dodging Gustafsson, he understands why “Bones” isn’t anxious to engage in Part II.
“That fourth round turned everything around. That one elbow [by Jones] changed the whole fight,” White said of the momentum shift in their first match. “And if you can’t respect Jon Jones after that war that he was in and how he carried himself and handled himself … then at the end, when the fight was over he had to be carried out of the octagon. That’s how banged up that guy was.
“So are you excited to run into another fight like that? I don’t think so. But I think on the competitive side for him says, ‘I gotta fight Gustafsson again.'”
White said he plans on speaking with Jones in about a week to gauge when he would like to face Gustafsson. Here’s a hint, it’ll happen within the next six months.