I don't give Gustafsson that much of a chance in this fight based on what I have seen from him. He is also coming off a pretty long time of inactivity (which could mean he will look rusty OR perhaps he has used that time to really improve).
At the same time, Jones is coming off of a couple of easy fights, a minor injury and he is probably believing he can't be beat right now. Also, sometimes dealing with a guy of close to equal size and reach can give other big guys trouble, like when Hong Man Choi defeated Semmy in K-1.
It's a shame he didn't get to fight Mousasi and I hope cage rust is just a myth.
You may have perhaps made a little more of some of the statements in the article than is totally fair (for example, Slack has written with more nuance about the advantages of carrying one's hands low in striking on several occasions, IIRC). But still, cool post.
I didn't know he had nuanced it previously. Makes even less sense why he would be black and white in this analysis if that's the case though.
Originally Posted by Cowb
You seem to be a Gus fan, and you also seem to have paid closer attention to his game than I have. I'm still seeing at least two big problems for Gus in this fight
- His lateral movement should be very vulnerable to leg kicks, which Jones makes good use of
- and his striking combos (or at least the ones he does any real damage with) put him into range of getting clinched, despite his range. He has often been as dangerous or more dangerous than his opponents in the clinch. That will not likely be the case this weekend.
No I agree, both of those can prove to be crucial tools for Jon.
A lot of it depends on what type of shape Alex enters the cage in though imho. Will he be looking like the normal Alex or the Shogun Alex? Like, it's easy to think a leg kick or a hook is the automatic answer to circling but if he's already moving laterally then by default it usually means you too have to turn to throw your strikes with proper leverage, and presumably this is even harder with kicks where you stand planted on one leg during the strike. It's also a dual edged sword. Even if you're faster on the turn than he is on the circle he could lure you into a turn and then suddenly cut you in half down the center when you initiate the movement. And if you swing and miss while he's on the circle that's even worse because now you're standing there with your pants down rolling down toilet paper with a confused look on your face as some dude kicks down the door with a machete in his hand. Ideally thus you should move him into a trap via your own movement so you can time his movement, but it's largely this dance that separates the good striker from the so-so ones. Jon has alluded he's done a lot of work in this area to prepare for the fight ("I just got a new boxing coach. Iím learning so much about angles now. My eyes have been so opened, like a new baby. Iím just really excited to show the MMA community how much better Iíve gotten at mixed martial arts"), but if it's enough remains to be seen; it's not been a strong point of his in the past and he's had his success because the higher weight classes mma-strikers tends to work linearly and stand at the end of your punches where Jon's contrasting distance and wrestling games are devastating factors. LHW is not a great talent pool of masterful striking and relatively simple means can shut down most guys game which has been exploited to a tee by Jones/Jackson's. Alex is cut from a different cloth though and no matter what image Jon shows to the media, it would be crazy to think they're not aware of it and giving it the respect it deserves.
And Alex has shown himself more than capable of timing a poorly executed leg kick.
The same goes for the clinch game. I can't imagine their gameplan is to give any type of wreckless chase on the center line against Jon so if Alex's movement is there Jon will be looking to reposition for the clinch as Alex steps in on a angle, and even wrestlers require balance and/or more than one hand right? Alex also already fell for this trick once against Phil so I don't see him repeating it again even if Jon were to actively try to lure him into a chase. And Phil himself avoided it against Machida, which presents a similar problem in terms of "chase on the center line" with his counters, so it's also something their camp is obviously very aware of. If he does it anyway it will be because he gets "overzealous" or simply is tired rather than it being overlooked by Alliance/Allstars.
And again, Alex has also shown himself more than capable of finding special angles in the clinch if they were to end up there, plus TDs of his own, so not all is lost if they do end up there. It's not plausible he'll win that battle, but it is possible.
So it all depends on what type of work effort Alex can put into this and if he can keep it up for 5 rounds, and conversely how good Jon has prepared for the boxing dance and if he too has the cardio to keep it up for 5 rounds. It's a different matter all together striking at a stationary target and striking against someone who moves like Alex usually does. You may think you have the best cardio in the world but until someone has put you through the grind of having to reposition and stay alert throughout then you don't know how you'll react to that type of striking pressure. It's both physically and mentally exhausting. Frustrating. Like doing ballet on roller skates standing in a feet of water as some dude pokes your face with a jab. And there are not a ton of big guys out there that could prepare you for this movement in combination with the size and power, the talent just isn't there unless we're talking a few rare exceptions at top level boxing. Alex is as much of a freak as Jon is in this sense, a big guy that can move more and better than most WWs.
Should he come in looking like he did against Shogun though - flat-footed, heavy, stiff and seemingly tired - then all the technical debates in the world wont make a difference. Jon will sooner or later likely grab him, take him down and (short of a lucky flash KO from Alex, or an absurd turn of events where he dominates Jon in the wrestling) finish him with the wrestling grind. Alex says he's done his homework and put the hours in and he better be keeping it real because the hardest worker will probably dominate. One thing that worries me though is there were talks about going to a high-altitude camp but it never materialized. Jon ofc has an advantage there and as is often the case in cardio sports like cross-country skiing where you have competitors that all drill intervals ~900 hours per season, then a 10-20% increase in oxygen uptake can make all the difference in the world. No matter how hard Jon currently trains Alex will have to work much harder just to keep up with this disadvantage. I'm mindful of it but cautiously optimistic what's been said about Alex being a cardio freak is true. Low altitude doesn't seem to slow Cruz or Cain down any so... fingers crossed. We could either see Jon dominating as usual with a bit more resistance from his opponent than normally is the case, but we could also have a scenario where he's looking like Penn trying to catch Edgar. In my mind it all depends on Alex's preparations. You can't hit (or wrestle) what's not in front of you.
And Jon knows it, otherwise he wouldn't be trying to discourage him from boxing with him with such contradicting opinions such as 'it's a weakness to stick and move' and 'my boxing is so good I'm thinking about boxing Klitschko'. Jon said it best when he fought Bader, "oh he mentioned my flashy moves? That means he fears them". It's a simple fact he fears Alex's boxing and don't like the idea of a fight where he sticks and moves. His mindgames are obvious and so is the fear behind them.
Dom Cruz tells it like it is though.
Originally Posted by Jack Hack
I'm here to add my voice to the rabble and giveóhopefullyóa little insight into just why Gustafsson did so well and why he looked nothing like his usual self.
The Importance of Movement
Jon Jones has an easy day when his opponents come straight at him, but his brilliant leg attack made me skeptical of Gustafsson's chances to use his footwork. Gustafsson enjoys circling laterally and the way to counter that is to meet that with a circular strike from the side he is circling to.
A nice example is Frankie Edgar being slowed down and forced to stand in front of Benson Henderson because of Bendo's constant threat of the low kick.
Jones, however, does not use round kicks nearly so much as he used to. Looking almost exclusively for his straight kicks to the front of the leg.
Front kicks are a wonderful means of using one's height and keeping the distance, but missing one can leave an aggressive kicker very off balance. One need only review the Nandor Guelmino vs. Daniel Omielanczuk finish from the prelims to be reminded of that.
As long as Gustafsson threatened to stay mobile, he could put Jones off of throwing his kicks which require a good deal of accuracy.