UFC 165: Jon Jones cements his status as an MMA legend after Alex Gustafsson thriller
By James Dielhenn. Last Updated: 22/09/13 11:49pm
Jon Jones: Beat Alex Gustafsson in brutal encounter at UFC 165
Iconic fighters ultimately require a defining moment upon which to cement their legend and require a rare individual who can force them to display the type of courage not ordinarily utilised.
Jon Jones' name must now be added to the elite list of athletes spanning combat sports after prevailing over Alex Gustafsson at UFC 165 in possibly the most thrilling - and excruciating - mixed martial arts fight ever.
It was not their legs holding them up after 25 minutes of balletic brutality but their will to survive in the ultimate arena of multi-disciplined fighting.
Jones was the unanimous decision winner and the raising of his hand signalled confirmation that he must be the best combatant the world has known.
For in Toronto last night, it was not video-game type techniques or supreme athleticism that won a record-breaking fight. It was the unnatural ability to persevere through difficulty that inspires future generations and isolates prizefighters as the most unique sportsmen on the planet.
Every Ali needs his Fraizer, and Gustafsson performed above and beyond the call of duty to ensure that Jones joined him in hospital afterwards. An all-time classic though it was, this fight was borderline to difficult to watch as two 200-pounds-plus warriors staggered over the finish line.
Jones' six championship defences are the most in light-heavyweight history but it took just moments for Gustafsson to assure him that he would need to dig deeper than ever before. The Swede displayed a boxing advantage and controlled the distance that was previously Jones' kingdom.
The shock factor set in after five minutes of a dominant Gustafsson round after the challenger sliced Jones' face with a right hand and, surprisingly, controlled the wrestling factor.
Jones had never previously been taken down but Gustafsson ended this streak in an exhilarating opening period.
The middle three rounds are where any debate may occur as they evenly traded blows from a variety of ancient fighting styles.
The contest arguably swung in the favour of the champ after a spinning elbow attack almost resulted in a KO - somehow the victim got away with a lacerated forehead but the hunter had now become the hunted.
Jones recorded his only takedown in the closing round when both men, their faces a claret wreckage, were gasping for breath. Gustafsson staggered, absorbing several head-kicks, but he had come too far to go down now.
As Jones was carried from the cage, questions inevitably turned to a rematch. That is an inevitability but UFC 165's main-event deserves more recognition than to be immediately cast into the past.
The future, however, shines brightly for the Ultimate Fighting Championship's poster boy Jon Jones - the greatest practitioner of martial arts of all-time.