Jon Jones will attempt to make his eighth light-heavyweight title defense at UFC 178 (September 27th; Air Canada Centre, Toronto), in a rematch with Alexander Gustafsson. UFC officials confirmed the booking last night. Jones vs. Gustafsson 2 will take place almost exactly a year after their first meeting at UFC 165*, which Jones won in a thrilling but somewhat controversial decision. Since then, Jones defeated Glover Teixeira in an utterly dominant five-round assault at UFC 172, and Gustafsson TKO’d Jimi Manuwa, handing the Nigerian-English slugger his first loss.
The lead-up to this fight has already been loaded with drama, as Jones seemed to be dragging his feet on signing the bout agreement to rematch Gustafsson, then tried to argue for a fight against Daniel Cormier instead. But Dana White put his foot down, and here we are. As Jones explained in a statement:
“There was never an issue with a contract. I was traveling and finally got to Vegas and got to talk with Dana and Lorezno. We talked and September 27th, I’ll be fighting Gustafsson. I think Cormier is the tougher fighter, but the fans want to see me fight Gustafsson. There was never an issue with taking the Gustafsson fight. The issue was that my brother is getting married in July and I would have preferred a later date. I didn’t want to go this early and I would have preferred to go later in October or November. It is what it is. We have a date now, Sept 27th. This was a personal decision for me. I will be at my brother’s wedding and have a proper training camp.”
So will the rematch turn out any different from their first fight, or will we see Bones edge out the Mauler in another close war? Your predictions, please.
* Jones vs. Gustafsson 1 was also held at the Air Canada Centre in Toronto — as were Jones’s previous title defenses against Vitor Belfort (in September 2012) and Lyoto Machida (in December 2011). Maybe the UFC has buyrate analytics showing that Jones is more popular in Canada than he is in the U.S. or something. Still, it strikes me as odd that Jones has never headlined a UFC pay-per-view in Las Vegas.