How did you score the Jones-Gustafsson bout? Please tell us below. | Photo: Dave Mandel/Sherdog.com
Eric Del Fierro was in Alexander Gustafsson’s corner Saturday for his UFC light heavyweight title bout against champion Jon Jones, and although plenty of viewers believe the Swede deserved the decision, that wasn’t his trainer’s initial opinion.
“When I was there, I scored it, I think, the way it came through: 3-2 for Jones,” Del Fierro told the Sherdog Radio Network’s “Beatdown” show on Wednesday. “I had Jones winning the fifth round. It was such a grinding fight. When I was there, I even scored round two in Alex’s favor. It was weird. The way it ended, I saw it going 3-2 to Jones. I just thought he’d finished strong, and to be the champ, you’ve got to take that fifth round. That’s one of the most important rounds of that whole fight.”
Jones won a unanimous decision on 48-47, 48-47 and 49-46 scorecards. Although Del Fierro agreed while watching the fight cageside, he later changed his view after watching video of the fight.
“Don’t get me wrong,” he said. “I’ll tell you what I saw in the corner is, I always err on the side of caution. Obviously we’re fighting the greatest of all time. We’re fighting the champion and we need to decisively own those rounds. At the fight, that fifth round, I felt, killed us. But when I went back and watched it on video, I can see the argument for Alex winning 3-2 because on video, I have Alex winning 3-2. But when I was there, I definitely thought that fifth round cost us and I thought that was the deciding factor.”
Gustafsson put on a fantastic performance regardless. He stopped takedown after takedown and scored early and often on the feet.
“I don’t know if Jones expected Alex’s speed or even his pressure, to just get in his face right away,” Del Fierro said. “Usually everybody tends to sit back and let Jones establish that long range. They just respect his wrestling so much that they won’t go inside on him. Alex just decided we’re going to go forward right away.”
The strategy worked, but Gustafsson still came up just a little short in the judges’ eyes. While Del Fierro ultimately disagrees with the call, the Alliance MMA head coach can’t help but be impressed by his fighter’s performance against one of the sport’s best.
“This fight Alex was so calm, prepared and just confident going into it,” Del Fierro said. “… It was almost eerie how confident he was. Part of it is his evolution. When he fought in Sweden in front of his home country and he went from being on undercards to a main event, basically carrying the whole country of Sweden on his shoulders, that was the most nervous I’ve ever seen Alex before a fight. In a sense, that prepared him for this stage. There was no pressure that he was feeling bigger than what he felt in Sweden. I just felt super confident going into this fight. I honestly really knew we were going to beat him. The only thing I could not game plan [for], or any of the other coaches, was Jones’ ability to take a punch and stay in the fight.”
Listen to the full interview (beginning at 57:30).