When is UFC 232? Sunday 30th December, 2018 – 01:00 (UK)
Where is UFC 232? The Forum, Inglewood, California
What channel is UFC 232 on? BT Sport 2
Where can I stream UFC 232? BT Sport subscribers can stream the fight online via the BT website
Are tickets still available for UFC 232? http://uk.ufc.com/event-ticket...
Jon Jones makes his return after another ban, this time for testing positive for Turinabol before his title fight with Daniel Cormier back in August 2017. He starched Cormier but after getting flagged, the belt was passed back to his foe and he subsequently had to watch him ascend with success, defending the belt and then winning the heavyweight championship and becoming the second ever simultaneous two-division champion.
It's been another difficult year wrapped in controversy for Jones, especially watching his arch-nemesis proudly wear two belts on his shoulders that he thought would be his. However, he is back and ready to reclaim his light heavyweight strap but he won’t battle with Cormier. Instead, it will be the man that gave him the toughest fight of his career and one of the greatest title fights in UFC history – Alexander Gustafsson.
The UFC stripped Cormier of the light heavyweight title to free up the division which has paved the way for a different yet compelling rematch. Jones and Gustafsson’s first encounter was over five years ago and a lot has happened since. Here is what the landscape of the light heavyweight division looks like at the moment:
Despite Jones only fighting twice since September 2013, he is still at the top end of all the relevant stats. His reign was simply remarkable especially at such a young age and interestingly he betters Gustafsson in nearly every stat. So, let’s look ahead at their rematch and analyse their first fight:
After serving a long ban, Jones came back and earned a decision over Ovince Saint Preux and then memorably head kicked Cormier off the throne to earn the belt before his next ban. Gustafsson, on the other hand, has fought five times going 3-2 including losses to Anthony Johnson and Daniel Cormier.
Their fight back in 2013 was epic – it was a back-and-fourth war on the feet with Jones earning a unanimous decision but many thought the fight was closer and even had Gustafsson winning it. So, how did the judges score the fight?
As you can see, the judges agreed round one was the Swede’s and Jones secured the last two but they were in disagreement with rounds two and three. Throughout the fight they exchanged heavy strikes, ate each other’s shots and kept pressing forward and the truth is every round was closely fought and tough to judge.
What do the stats suggest? Well, they may make you see the fight differently. See below for a full breakdown of each round of the fight:
Surprisingly, Jones outstruck Gustafsson in every single round but what is important to note is that almost every strike thrown was significant. In fact, only seven strikes thrown between them were not, meaning there was a lot of force behind almost every punch, kick, elbow and knee. So, it is not necessarily the output that matters but the damage received.
They both took each other down once and as the fight was so close, this is what secured the first round for Gustafsson and the final round for Jones. The judges unanimously gave round four for Jones but according to the stats, he actually landed more significant strikes throughout the fight and was very accurate.
Jones’ superior accuracy was important as it meant he used up less energy that enabled him to grow into the fight and have more stamina going into the championship rounds. He looked more comfortable and was even able to land that takedown right at the end of the fight which would have looked convincing for the judges.
Another interesting factor was the fact that nearly every shot was thrown from distance. They are both exceptional boxers and are comfortable standing in the pocket and even dirty boxing to inflict damage. They also focused on attacking the head in frequent attempts to end the fight but they just kept exchanging fierce combinations from range, showing tremendous durability and heart.
We should expect a similar standard of battle in their rematch. Jones admitted he had not taken that fight seriously and with a lot of forced time to reflect outside the cage, he will be a different fighter. He is well-prepared and desperate to make up for lost time.
As for Gustafsson, although he has lost twice since, he is equally desperate for this win. Not only to claim his first UFC title that has eluded and haunted him for most his career, but he also wants to avenge the loss he never thought he lost in the first place.
Despite controversy and asterixes clouding Jones’ name after his bans, there is no evidence to suggest he became so successful due to the help of performance enhancing drugs. So, the standard in this fight will be just as high, if not higher. Expect it to be a brutal stand-up battle but with more variation with grappling.
Jones will take this bout more seriously and has the creativity and ability to unsettle Gustafsson. Whether it be clinches mixed with elbows and knees or controlling the distance with side and oblique kicks, rest assured whatever Jones throws at him, the Mauler will take everything and rise to the occasion. Gustafsson can put Jones in severe trouble and will be a threat until the final round but Jones has too much in his locker and we just have a feeling he may pull something out we have not seen before.
Prediction: Jones via Submission
Striking and grappling stats sourced via FightMetric