LAS VEGAS – Jon Jones doesn’t really know what it’s like to lose, but there’s one man who pushed him to the limit more than ever.
Although the two-time UFC light heavyweight champion has had several close decision wins throughout his career, he never faced more adversity than his memorable first fight against Alexander Gustafsson (18-7 MMA, 10-7 UFC) at UFC 165.
Arguably the greatest light heavyweight bout in UFC history, big underdog Gustafsson was more game than Jones (26-1 MMA, 20-1 UFC) likely imagined. He managed to cause a massive gash under Jones’ eye and became the first man to take him down. But after the judges rendered the scorecards, it was Jones who was awarded a unanimous decision win. The incredible battle was named 2013’s “Fight of the Year” and Thursday officially was inducted into the UFC Hall of Fame.
“It feels really cool,” Jones told MMA Junkie and other reporters on the red carpet. “It feels really cool. It’s been a long time since I’ve gotten any type of awards or anything like that outside of getting the belts. This is a different feeling. I’m very honored, very grateful. I feel like (I’m) more established in a way. It’s just really cool.”
The gash under Jones’ right eye was a concerning one, but fortunately for “Bones,” doctors didn’t stop the fight. Jones was able to take the championship rounds on all three judges’ scorecards after losing Round 1 and took plenty of valuable lessons from that fight.
“It was cool because I got to almost take an ‘L’ without actually losing,” Jones said. “A lot of people say that I lost that fight, and it was great to come so close without actually losing. People say things like they never really become the fighter that you can be until you lose and you learn so much. You can only learn when you lose. In a way, I did lose without actually losing.
“I got to learn a lot that night and I was really excited. I also got to figure out where my heart lies and where my resilience lies. There are many times in the fight where I could’ve went through that door of quitting. I refused. I dug deep and I brought out a little extra out of myself when things got really difficult. I was grateful to see that and it was just a great fight.”
The fight was iconic and so was their post-fight hospital photo in which both men were banged up. But when Gustafsson worked his way back up to a highly anticipated rematch, Jones made sure to leave no doubt by putting him away.
“The training camp was terrible,” Jones said of their first fight. “Training camp was really bad. I was really partying at the time. … I don’t want to go back there. It’s been a long time. It’s been a long time since I was living that type of life. I try to leave it in the past. The second fight. How about that second fight, eh? I feel like it was a good indication of my focus levels.”
Jon Jones def. Alexander Gustafsson at UFC 165: Best photos
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