Not many expect Alexander Gustafsson to dethrone the champion. | Photo: Dave Mandel/Sherdog.com
Alexander Gustafsson has his work cut out for him.
Gustafsson will challenge Ultimate Fighting Championship light heavyweight titleholder Jon Jones in the UFC 165 main event on Saturday at the Air Canada Centre in Toronto, as he looks to keep “Bones” from successfully defending the 205-pound crown for a record sixth time.
Jones has won nine consecutive fights, leaving Brandon Vera, Vladimir Matyushenko, Ryan Bader, Mauricio Rua, Quinton Jackson, Lyoto Machida, Rashad Evans, Vitor Belfort and Chael Sonnen in his wake. Gustafsson, meanwhile, has compiled a 7-1 record since arriving in the UFC a little less than four years ago.
Sherdog.com touched base with a number of professional fighters and trainers to gauge their opinions on the UFC 165 headliner:
Sherdog Fantasy MMA: UFC 165 Free Fan Pick’Em
Martin Kampmann: This is one of the fights I’m really looking forward to. For Jones, it’s a great challenge because he’s fighting Gustafsson, who has really great boxing. Gustafsson has that long reach, and I think he can make the fight tricky for Jones. I think it really comes down to Jones’ wrestling. If he can get inside on him, he can take him down. I really can’t pick against Jones.
Daniel Downes: During the buildup for this fight, much has been made about measurements. All your old girlfriends may have told you that size matters, but there is no way you can quantify Jones’ ability. Gustafsson likes to fashion himself a boxer, but his strikes are much wider and looping than his opponent’s. Whenever Jones attacks, he does so with accuracy, power and no wasted motion. Look for “Bones” to consistently beat “The Mauler” to the punch, take him down and ground-and-pound his way to a first-round TKO.
T.J. Waldburger: I like watching both of these fighters, but I think Jones will bring a little more to the table.
Cameron Diffley: I think Jones is going to use his clear advantage in the clinch and on the ground to take this fight. Jones wins by TKO or submission early.
Brock Jardine: I’m sure a lot of people would like to see Jones lose this one, but he will not lose his belt until he fights Glover Teixeira next. With that being said, I think Jones and Gustafsson will be pretty even on the feet, so Jones will look to take him down for either ground-and-pound or a sub. I predict Jones wins by late submission in the fourth round to retain his title.
John Dodson: Jones will make this guy look like an amateur. He will be too fast, too strong and too smart, showing why he is the champion.
Tom DeBlass: Jones wins by TKO via ground-and-pound with elbows in the second round.
Keith Berry: Jones is so dynamic, and I don’t see anyone dethroning him anytime soon. I say Jones wins by third-round TKO.
Gabe Ruediger: I’m going with Jones. The wrestling will be the deciding factor, in my opinion. I think Gustafsson’s striking and length will make it interesting, but Jones’ wrestling should be the difference.
Ricardo Liborio: Jones wins by decision.
Mike Ciesnolevicz: I’m taking Gustafsson for the upset. I think he has the size, reach and striking to deal with Jones. I don’t think it will be easy due to Jones’ wrestling advantage, but I’m sure Gustafsson improved a lot in that area since he has been training in the States. I see Gustafsson winning by TKO after frustrating Jones.
Zach Makovsky: Physically, this is a different challenge for Jones, but I believe skill-wise he is on a different level. “Bones” finishes it with ground-and-pound or a sub in the first or second round.
Mitch Clarke: I have Jones, probably by something unexpected. Jones is a more advanced version of Gustafsson, and I think it’ll show in the fight.
Chris Clements: I’m going to go to with Jones; it’s hard to go against him. He’s been unstoppable. In this fight, I see him as the more well-rounded fighter. He has the edge in wrestling, and I think he will take him down and punish him, winning via third-round TKO from ground-and-pound.
Kyle Kingsbury: Jones wins easily: takedown, elbow, TKO.
J.J. Ambrose: Jones is on another level from everyone in the division and continually raises the bar every time he fights. I can’t see anyone beating him anytime soon -- no disrespect to Gustafsson -- unless he slips on a banana peel in the Octagon. I see him winning via TKO in the second round.
Igor Araujo: Jones takes this by any way that he wants to win the fight. He is a monster. Gustafsson is also very good, but he is not the toughest opponent that Jones has faced. I think “Bones” wins by TKO in round three.
Vinny Magalhaes: This is a tough fight, especially because it’s in my weight class. I hate commenting on fights that are in my weight class (laughs). After the last fight where Anderson Silva lost his title, I would like to see Jones lose his, too. Anderson was dominating for so long, like seven years, and had 16 straight wins. Anderson is no longer the pound-for-pound best; Jones is. Jones has only had six or seven or whatever title fights, but he hasn’t dominated for as long as Anderson did, and that doesn’t make sense to me. He didn’t dominate the kind of guys that Anderson did for as long as he did, but now he’s number one. I would like to see him lose, so maybe Anderson can get his spot back; or maybe Georges St. Pierre can get it because he’s dominated for so long, too. I want to see the title change hands, so I will go with Gustafsson.
Colton Smith: I believe Alexander will pose problems for the champion with his reach and overall physicality in the first round. Look for Jones to push the cage work and takedowns en route to a hard-fought TKO victory in the fourth.
Nam Phan: Gustafsson wins.
Travis Wiuff: I’m taking Jones to get outstruck early before dominating with wrestling late and submitting Gustafsson in the late third or early fourth round.
Johny Hendricks: I’m going with Jones by TKO in the third round. I just don’t see anyone standing in his way, and I think he will win the standup, as well.
Eric Prindle: Jones wins by second-round submission.
Mark Bocek: Jones wins by decision.
Travis Lutter: Jones all the way.
Robert Drysdale: Jones wins.
Brian Melancon: Jones is too much of a freak. He takes this one by total confusion and gets the finish by submission in round three.
THE FINAL TALLY
Pros Picking Jones: 25
Pros Picking Gustafsson: 3
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