Could there a surprise in the making for our UFC picks?
Alexander Gustafsson (15-1, 9 KO's, 3 Subs)
Gustafsson is hoping that this matchup against Jon Jones won't be a case of the champ shooting Swedish fish in a barrel. The 6'5" inch native of Arboga, Sweden has been awarded decisions over Thiago Silva and most recently, Shogun Rua. The match against Rua proved that Gustafsson is indeed in the rarified air of the very best on the planet at 205 pounds.
Alexander Gustafsson looks like he should be shooting hoops as opposed to throwing bombs. He's got the build of the prototypical tall white basketball player somewhere, sometime in the 70's or 80's before they were jacked and pumped. While he lacks the muscularity and vascularity of many of today's tattooed cage warriors, he lacks nothing in terms of swift, devastating power punches. He is a boxer by trade but I don't see any other dimensions to his game that would lend itself to MMA over boxing except that in the Octagon his opponents are not as skilled as he in terms of pure boxing.
That's exactly why he has had such success in mixed martial arts because he doesn't allow his opponents to flip the script and take the fight to the mat or barrage him with an array of stinging Muay Thai kicks that will eventually incapacitate him. Gustafsson's huge reach advantage doesn't allow opponents to work their way inside. He is also adept at sticking and moving. He is not a big, plodding flame thrower like Pat Barry or Roy Nelson who take as many as they give. Gustafsson is a master tactician and landing a punch on him without him paying you back with two or three of his own is almost pure luck.
He is that good and that's why I wonder why he forsook boxing for MMA? He's got plenty of endurance, weaves in and out like a cobra and has great footwork for a 6'5" man. Add to that a pretty jab and a heavy right hand and I'm not sure he's in the right sport because unlike boxing, he will have to be able to grapple with the best in the world -eventually. So far only Phil Davis was able to avoid his reach without getting starched and bring him to the canvas where he ultimately choked him out with relative ease. It is to date, the only blemish on an otherwise pristine resume for Alexander Gustafsson but it points out how vulnerable the big Swede will be if Jon Jones takes this fight to the ground (and he will).
See what is going on in UFC 164 for your betting pleasure.
Jon "Bones" Jones (18-0, 1 DQ, 9 KO's, 6 Subs)
I don't list Jon Jones' record at 18-1 because he was victimized by a monumental gaffe courtesy of a man, Steve Mazzagatti, who has refereed his way into MMA infamy. If Dana White had his way Mazzagatti would not only be on the unemployment line but behind bars. While I know an MMA ref has a tough job and though Steve Mazzagatti may be a great guy outside of the Octagon he has undeniably made some monumental blunders inside it. But none were worse than when he disqualified Jon Jones for a midnight to six elbow strike upon the prone, bloody body of Matt Hamill. That was it, no warning or point deduction from Mazzagatti just a DQ and a big ol' L on Jones' record. Way to go Steve, you just spray painted a moustache on the Mona Lisa.
Jones opened up as a -588 favorite at WilliamHill.com in their UFC odds and they have not moved off that number which is about as generous a line you're apt to get if you like the champ. Anyway, if you don't know about Jon Jones then I suggest you make your way over to YouTube and check out a little JBJ action. He is the greatest I have ever witnessed and I am no bandwagon jumper either, having been his biggest proponent even before the criminal DQ levied against him in the Hamill fight almost four years ago.
Check out My UFC 164 undercard picks~
Anything you can do, he can do better - and I'm talking to you Alex!Jones by submission in Round 2 for your UFC picks at WilliamHill.com