Gustafsson, Jones rematch could make sense for UFC

James Lynch,

9/23/2013 12:00:06 PM

This wasn't supposed to happen. Ahead of the light heavyweight title fight between champion Jon Jones and Alexander Gustafsson, the UFC tried selling fans on the idea about this potentially being a competitive matchup.

Pundits and even the odds-makers would tell a different story, some betting sites capped Jones at one point at -850 (Bet $850 to win $100). But clearly that's not what ensued on Saturday night.

From the moment the bell rang, the 26-year old Swede turned the fight into Jones' most competitive matchup to date. Using his reach, effective striking and take downs, the Alliance MMA fighter displayed fearless confidence and won over the audience in the Air Canada Centre after five rounds of action.

While his performance didn't earn him the victory on the judges' scorecards (losing 47-48, 47-48, 46-49), it did immediately spark up debate as to whom Jones' next opponent should be.

"Who doesn't want to see this rematch?" said UFC President Dana White at the post-fight press conference.

"I'd like to do the rematch it makes sense, but we have to wait to see what happens -- maybe it is Glover (Teixeira), maybe it is a rematch, I don't know."

In my opinion the answer is simple. Book the rematch between Jones and Gustafsson sometime next year and have that event held in Europe.

The aftermath of Saturday's main event was a potential fight of year candidate and a winning lottery ticket at the promotions disposal. In order to cash that ticket, they need to carry this momentum over into Jones' next fight.

Pundits will argue that Glover Teixeira is a more real candidate as he's currently undefeated inside the octagon and most recently dispatched fellow top contender Ryan Bader via first round stoppage earlier this month.

The problem with that is who does Gustafsson square off with next?

Phil Davis has won three straight, but they're now fellow teammates and already fought back at UFC 112.

Lyoto Machida has dropped to middleweight, Dan Henderson is fighting Vitor Belfort, Thiago Silva and Matt Hamill have both fought Gustafsson recently.

It's possible the winner of Rashad Evans vs. Chael Sonnen could be next in line, but are they deserving being 1-2 in their last three fights? I don't think so.

While no doubt the 33-year old Teixeira has earned his spot, a matchup with Jones right now would kill any potential of Gustafsson emerging as a European superstar for the promotion.

Not since the days when Andrei Arlovski held the UFC heavyweight title back in 2005 has the promotion had a European champion. One of the challenges for the UFC in recent years has been marketing European fighters and after Saturday night, they certainly have an ideal candidate.
Hosting a main event fight in Europe against Jon Jones would do big things for the UFC on a global scale and let's hope they make the right decision.