UFC light heavyweight champion Jon Jones and challenger Alexander Gustafsson put on a five-round battle over the weekend that thrilled their fans, peers and employers alike.
The two men engaged in a back-and-forth dogfight that went to the judges' scorecards, with Jones earning the nod and retaining his belt. The decision wasn't rendered without controversy and, though it's not likely to make him feel any better, Gustafsson walks away from the fight actually seeing his stock rise.
At the UFC 165 post-fight show, UFC president Dana White heaped praise on the challenger for giving Jones his toughest test to date.
"It was awesome," White said of the fight. "Not only did I not expect this fight to go five rounds, I didn't think Alex would stop Jones from taking him down. In fact it was the opposite. Gustafsson actually took him down."
White also had good things to say about the champion, asserting that he may very well gain more respect from fans for his own gutsy performance. Owing to the incredible display of skill and heart both men put on Saturday night (as well as the closeness of the decision), there were immediate calls for a rematch. For his part, White seemed open to the idea. He hinted that top contender Glover Teixeira may have to wait a bit longer to get his shot at the belt now that Gustafsson made such a compelling case for his own shot at redemption.
"I think they could fight again," he said. "I think Glover [Teixeira] would get another fight. I told Alex after the fight that he lost nothing in his fight."