It’s been seven months since Jon Jones fought Alexander Gustafsson in one of the greatest light heavyweight title fights in the history of the UFC, so it’s easy to see why so many people are still talking about it in present day.
As Jones gets ready to make his seventh defense of his title, the questions surrounding the fight with Gustafsson are still a hot topic even ahead of his next bout against Glover Teixeira at UFC 172 this weekend.
The fight with Gustafsson was the first time Jones had ever really been pushed in a fight outside of a lone armbar attempt from Vitor Belfort and a few punches courtesy of Lyoto Machida. Jones won the bout by unanimous decision, but still there were questions about the validity of the call considering how well Gustafsson fought over the course of all five rounds.
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Now on the eve of his next title defense against Teixeira, Jones reveals details about his performance in the Gustafsson fight, most notably that he wasn’t even going after him at full strength. Ego got the best of Jones after his destruction of Chael Sonnen months earlier, and Gustafsson served as a reality check.
I went 80-percent (against Gustafsson). I’m not making any excuses, Gustafsson did a great job in the fight, but I know I had a lot more in me
— Jon Jones
"Going into the Gustafsson fight, I had just beat Chael Sonnen. Somebody that almost beat Anderson Silva twice. I dominated Chael Sonnen in a minute and 30 seconds and I think for the first time in my career, I really started to feel myself. I really started to think maybe I’ve got this extraordinary talent and maybe I can’t be touched," Jones admitted when speaking to the Jim Rome Show on Wednesday.
Jones started to believe his own hype and didn’t take preparation for Gustafsson as seriously as he should have and it nearly cost him the UFC light heavyweight title.
"I went 80-percent," Jones said about the Gustafsson fight. "I’m not making any excuses, Gustafsson did a great job in the fight, but I know I had a lot more in me. I did some of the cardio tests that I normally do and my numbers weren’t the same.
"Me knowing that, I still went into the fight thinking well since I can’t perform excellent, maybe I’ll still perform really, really high and still really, really good and maybe the fight will be a little bit closer if I just put half the effort in. I learned the lesson the hard way that you have to give full effort."
The lesson learned in the fight with Gustafsson forced Jones to reassess and readjust ahead of his next bout against Teixeira this weekend in Baltimore.
No longer can Jones go into any fight less than 100-percent prepared for the opponent standing in front of him. Whether he believes he’s superior or not, Jones has to look at Teixeira as the most dangerous threat he’s ever faced and this is the guy with the skills and strategy to snatch away the gold belt that means so much to him.
"The way this camp has been different is not only have I given full effort, but I trampled over some of the numbers I had in the past. My highest numbers in the past with cardio tests and strength tests, I’ve increased those numbers in a major way," Jones revealed. "So I know my cardio’s better than ever. I know my physical shape is the best it’s ever been. And I’m getting older in this sport so my coordination and body awareness and body understanding is just at the highest level.
"I feel like I’m a complete package right now and I want to show that."