After the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency announced that former UFC light heavyweight champion Jon Jones would serve a 15-month ban for testing positive for banned substances after his light heavyweight title fight against Daniel Cormier, there was plenty of speculation about who the former champion will fight once he is eligible to return on October 28.
Even though most fans were expecting the UFC to schedule a third fight between Jones (22-1, 1 NC) and current light heavyweight champion Cormier, the promotion surprised fans by announcing that Jones’ first fight back will be against number one contender Alexander Gustafsson (18-4).
In 2013, Jones vs Gustafsson UFC 165 was held where Jones & Gustafsson had what is considered by most to be one of the best light heavyweight fights in UFC history, and Jones picked up the unanimous decision and retained his light heavyweight championship.
At the time, Gustafsson had given Jones the toughest fight of his career, leaving the champion with a bloody and swollen face after the fight, which won the 2013 Fight of the Year honors.
Soon after the fight, fans clamored for a rematch but Jones went on to fight Glover Teixeira next.
In 2014, Jones and Gustafsson were scheduled to fight in a rematch, but after Jones refused to sign up for the fight, UFC president Dana White told reporters that “Jones doesn’t want to fight Gustafsson.”
A few weeks after White’s comments, Jones agreed to take the fight and the rematch was set for September 2014. Unfortunately for the fans, Gustafsson was forced to pull out of the fight because of a torn meniscus, which led to him being replaced by Daniel Cormier in what was the beginning of another rivalry for Jones.
After recovering from his injury, Gustafsson was hoping to finally get the rematch with Jones, but Jones was dealing with personal issues after getting arrested for a hit-and-run and testing positive for cocaine.
When Jones returned from his suspension in 2016, he defeated Ovince Saint Preux by unanimous decision to win the interim light heavyweight title, setting up a rematch with Cormier for the light heavyweight championship.
Jones would go on to defeat Cormier for the second time, this time by knockout, but the win was overturned after Jones tested positive for turinabol, an anabolic steroid.
Before he started making headlines because of his personal issues, Jones was considered one of the best mixed martial arts fighters in history, with his only career loss coming by disqualification. When he was the champion, he successfully defended his title nine times before his win over Cormier was changed to a no contest.
Gustafsson was also considered one of the best light heavyweights in the business, but consecutive losses to Anthony Johnson and Cormier gave him three losses in his last four fights and dropped him in the light heavyweight standings.
The Swede bounced back from those losses with wins over Jan Błachowicz, and Teixeira, the latter of which won the Fight of the Night award, helped him climb back up the standings to become the number one contender once again.
Even though Gustafsson has only fought once since 2016, he is expected to cause problems for Jones, who struggled with his length and solid jaw during their first fight.
If Gustafsson finds a way to win this fight, he will finally get the light heavyweight title after all these years. He will also get another crack at Cormier, who some believe was gifted the title when they fought to a split decision in 2015.
One thing is for sure, if this fight is half as good as the first fight, MMA fans will be in for another great battle between Jones and Gustafsson.