At UFC 165, Jon Jones met Alexander Gustafsson in Toronto in what was later declared the MMA “Fight of the Year” for 2013. Jones was making his sixth title defense, and had never before met an opponent who could match his long reach. Gustafsson, however, was considered a major underdog, and few onlookers believed that he had any real chance of upsetting the UFC’s reigning light heavyweight champion.
Gustafsson would prove his critics wrong.
In the first round, the cool-as-ice Gustafsson landed a hard right hand that cut Jones, then did what no other fighter had done during Jones’ professional career: he took Jones down. Suddenly, the supposedly indestructible Jones was looking very much vulnerable to defeat.
Gustafsson carried his momentum into the second round, scoring another takedown. Jones was forced to change his tactics, resorting to leg kicks and spinning elbows in an attempt to neutralize Gustafsson’s relentless push towards the title.
Tension was high when the third round began, and Jones finally began to show why he had been such a heavy pre-match favorite. Landing a series of kicks and elbows, Jones finally won a round, but came out flat in the fourth. With his back against the wall, Jones dug deep and stunned Gustafsson with heavy elbow and knee blows. While Gustafsson held the advantage in the round’s early going, Jones came back to steal it.
The fifth round was almost too close to call. At times, both men appeared destined for victory, only to have their opponent fight back and steal the momentum. Late in the round, Jones went on the attack. Determined to take Gustafsson down, Jones finally succeeded after 10 attempts. With two exhausted fighters having gone the distance, the match was left for the judges to decide.
Based on his late fifth-round takedown, Jones had his arm raised in victory. To his credit, though, Gustafsson put up a much fiercer fight than anyone initially expected. Both fighters left the ring with injuries; Jones had to be carried out on a gurney, while Gustafsson was taken to hospital.