Alexander Gustafsson Does Not Deserve A UFC Title Rematch

UFC fans are still buzzing after the memorable showdown at UFC 165. Fans and press are clamoring to see Alexander Gustafsson get an immediate rematch at champion Jon Jones. It sounds fun on paper but does he really deserve one?

This fight has taken on a life of its own. The fight was immediately branded as the greatest light heavyweight title fight in UFC history during the broadcast (anyone see Tito Ortiz vs. Frank Shamrock?). Reporters and bloggers were drinking in the excitement in social media with many proclaiming that they witnessed history. I must be in the minority because I don’t necessarily agree with any of these statements but whether I like it or not, this fight has now taken its place among epic bouts.

Gustafsson gave Jones the toughest fight of his UFC career. Gustafsson not only stuffed most of Bones’ takedown attempts but was able to do the unthinkable and take Bones down to the mat. Gustafsson hung in the pocket trading and eating shots like he was a terminator. Yet at the end of the day Gustafsson lost the fight which doesn’t seem to matter to anyone.

Let’s take a deeper look at the fight. I saw a fight where the challenger played a brilliant strategic game but never once had the champion on the ropes. Maybe I missed it but I can’t recall at any time during the fight where Gustafsson was close to finishing Jones off. Vitor Belfort was closer to finishing Bones off. It was Gustafsson who looked to be in the most trouble at spots during the fight was arguably saved by the bell at one point. I am not taking anything away from Gus’ efforts but I watched a guy who not only lost three rounds but failed to capitalize on any opportunities and yet today he is being heralded as some kind of an uncrowned champion.

The fight stats tell you everything you need to know about the fight. According to Jones won the battle of significant strikes as the well as number of overall strikes. Gus won the takedown battle but at no point did a takedown almost knock Jones out cold. Jones’ strikes, most specifically an elbow had Gus reeling in round 4. 30-60 more seconds on the clock probably would have ended the fight and Gus’ fairytale.

Since when is this kind of effort rewarded with an immediate title fight? I think the standard was set a few months back when Gilbert Melendez did almost the exact same thing to Ben Henderson and yet was moved to the back of the line following the fight. Frankie Edgar arguably beat Henderon in their rematch and was banished to another division. Urijah Faber didn’t get an immediate rematch after taking Dominick Cruz to a decision at UFC 132. Chael Sonnen did much more damage in his championship quest against Anderson Silva and he had to win two fights to get another rematch. Yes I know there were legal implications but he still had to win two fights to get that rematch. I don’t know if Gus did any more damage to Jones than any of those challengers did in their fights and none got either immediate rematches or rematches at all.

Glover Teixeira is the rightful number one contender and deserves the next crack at the title. Teixeira has put together an unheard of 20 wins in his last 20 fights. He is 5-0 in his UFC career. How could anyone argue that his record and patience should take a backseat to a very good effort by Gustafsson? I just don’t see it.

So while it is a nice story and the drama was some of the best the UFC has had in years that should not qualify Gustafsson for an immediate rematch. Gus should have to win 1-2 fights like anyone else before he is a part of the conversation. At the end of the day he didn’t get the job done nor was he robbed of a decision. I see no reason he should be rewarded for that.

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