The Nordic MMA Fight of 2013 goes to Alexander Gustafsson versus Jon Jones at UFC 165 in a bout that captured the MMA world’s attention. The first Nordic fighter to challenge for the UFC belt turned out to be one of the most memorable five round wars ever. Recently, even the UFC acknowledged the greatness of the fight by ranking it #2 best fight, only behind the TUF Finale between Forrest Griffin versus Stephan Bonnar in the 20 years of the UFC’s existence.
The bout took place in Toronto, not too far from the Champion’s New York home on September 21. The odds had put Gustafsson as one of the biggest underdogs in a title fight, and many believed the hype that Jones had bought into that nobody could touch the champ. “Not Quote Human” read Jones shirt as he confidently walked into the cage and assumed that Gustafsson was just another tall opponent that he would stop by out-boxing or out-wrestling the European.
However, Gustafsson didn’t let the Jones aura overcome him. “I’m going to bring the belt back to Sweden” said the Allstars Training Center fighter over and over, and the Viking was a believer.
Strange face-offs where Jones would wear sunglasses, filmed on a phone, or avoid eye-contact with Gustafsson did not intimidate or throw off the Swedes game, as he was confident in his skills honed in Stockholm and San Diego. During the press day leading into the big event, it was Gustafsson that even reached behind the champs back jokingly trying to get what he came for, the belt.
Jones dominated all of his last opponents, putting Lyoto Machida to sleep, outwrestling Chael Sonnen, dominating Rashad Evans, and stopping Vitor Belfort. It was only Lyoto Machida that was able to steal a round from the most dominant light heavyweight champion, who was defending the belt that he won back in March of 2011. “He’s never fought anyone like me before.” boasted Jones about the fighter that he didn’t think have much of a chance.
“I can beat Jon Jones any day” says Gustafsson that came into the fight with 15 wins and 1 loss. “Everybody bleeds” said The Mauler that was looking to end the champions run of five title defenses, which was tied for the most ever with Tito Ortiz. It is exactly what Gustafsson did in round 1, where after defending a take-down attempt for Jones early in the bout, the Mauler was not backing down and cut the champ early.
The Swede came out showed success that hasn’t been seen against Jones stunning the +800 favorite exchanging kicks and punches, frustrating the champion for the first time. The Toronto crowd came to their feet as Gustafsson began to get the best of exchanges, and erupted into madness as the Mauler finished a double-leg take-down putting the champ on his back for the first time ever.
Gustafsson continued to win the exchanges for the most part of the first four rounds, showing a variety of strikes and kicks that kept the champ away. The lips and a huge cut above the right eye of the American were so bad that even the doctors considered stopping the bout.
A classic fight always has its ups and downs and Jones had his moment in round 4 as he landed a spinning elbow that hurt Gustafsson. It was the Swedes round up to then, where Gustafsson’s strikes were landing with more accuracy and frequency. While Jones stole the round, many saw Gustafsson winning the first three.
The Viking stood his ground in round five as the exhausted warriors went at it. The Swede was taken down for the first time in the fifth, and many assumed that the bout would stay on the ground. Gustafsson however showed that he came for the belt and pushed himself to the cage and was able to get to his feet. All the way to the end it was both fighters laying it all out for the fans, challenging each other for the light heavyweight title.
In the end, all the judges saw it for Jones, however it was all boos from the fans that cheered the Swede and his efforts. The classic fight raised the bar for All Stars Training Center fighter, who showed the world that Alexander Gustafsson is capable of beating one of the best pound-for-pound fighters in the world… and on this Saturday night many thought that he did.
The MMAViking.com award for Fight of the Year goes to Alexander Gustafsson versus Jon Jones.