2013 Fight of the Year: Jon Jones vs. Alexander Gustafsson

January 8, 2014
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Jon Jones & Alex Gustafsson in Hospital-478x270Following UFC Fight Night 32 on Nov. 9, UFC president Dana White stated that 2013 was the best year for fights in the company’s 20-year history, and he may very well have been right.

“This is the 20th anniversary of the UFC and it would be hard to debate that this hasn’t been the greatest year of fights in the UFC,” he said.

The year featured competitive and controversial title fights, as well as epic wars. Benson Henderson and Gilbert Melendez fought to a split decision for the lightweight title at UFC on Fox 7 on April 20. Many felt Melendez had done enough to come away with the belt, but Henderson retained the title.

Melendez and Diego Sanchez put on a dogfight at UFC 166 on Oct. 19 that left the fans inside the Toyota Center in Houston feeling like they witnessed something incredible. And they did.

Mark Hunt and Antonio “Bigfoot” Silva turned in one of the greatest heavyweight fights ever at UFC Fight Night 33 on Dec. 7, but it was tainted after Silva’s drug test revealed an elevated level of testosterone.

Rarely are fighters able to reproduce an outstanding performance in a rematch, but that’s exactly what Eddie Alvarez and Michael Chandler did at Bellator 106 on Nov. 2. Chandler submitted Alvarez in their first outing at Bellator 58 in 2011. After a contractual dispute with the organization, Alvarez sat out for more than a year. He returned to get revenge on the man who took his title and the organization that he felt did him wrong. He accomplished both goals.

But there was one fight in 2013 that had it all. A title was on the line. It was technical, back and forth, and somewhat controversial depending on whom you ask.

UFC light heavyweight champion Jon Jones was a heavy favorite over his UFC 165 challenger Alexander Gustafsson. The only time Jones had really faced adversity in his career was when Vitor Belfort briefly had him caught in an armbar at UFC 152. Gustafsson would push the champion to his limits.

Throughout the fight, Gustafsson used his footwork and hand speed to land shots on the champ. For the first time, Jones looked human out there. Gustafsson was able to take Jones down, something no other fighter had previously been able to accomplish.

The Swede looked like he was on his way to victory until Jones delivered of his spinning back elbows in the fourth round that nearly finished the fight. Jones would go on to win a unanimous decision and the fight is MMAWeekly.com’s 2013 Fight of the Year.

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  • Roachy

    Agreed. Any change of losing the Michael Jordan Dunks at aged 50 banner this year? It’s been there for ages.

  • Big Tuna

    It was a competitive fight but many more exciting fights ahead of it

  • El Gvapo

    I’m inclined to agree on this one. The occasion and what Gus nearly achieved probably wins it for them. I did enjoy Gil vs Danchez though. And when was Jim Miller vs Joe Lauzon? That was great too but can’t remember if it was this year.

    • Wolf Ticket

      That fight was last year and UFC officially chose it as it’s FOTR for 2012. That fight was epic indeed.

  • David

    What about Wanderlei and Stanns fight? That should be fight of the year.

    • JDMMA

      Exactly !!! they dont even care for any fight prior to June

    • Gary Fredericks

      Jones vs Gustavson encompassed heart, technical excellence, and was a five round full throttle war for the title. Silva vs Stann was (by comparison) was ALL heart, some technique, and less than three round war for….I guess keeping Silva relevant at what? 55 yrs old now?

      Silva vs Stann was classic and an incredible display of heart and will to win. Jones vs Gustavson is a good call for fight of the year IMVHO.

  • Cilantro

    Felt this was a nobrainer. Title on the line, 5 round war, knock-downs and cuts, close decision. But, it was the superb technical standard of this fight that set it apart from all the (maaaaaany) other good fights of 2013. I have immense respect for both men after that performance. Wont be surprised if the rematch turns out even better tbh..

    • Bucket of Chicken



      Seconded or Thirded as well !!! lol

    • El Gvapo

      I concur, very well put.

    • deepgrim

      definately, what a moment when gus managed to take him down in the first round, ya really felt a war was on!

    • Ian Price

      Next fight will be all Alex. He just needs to watch out for that spinning elbow. It’s not like jones is gonna improve in his wrestling or TDD!! Better move up to HW or retire, because his brand will have a giant Swedish smear on it soon…. I still agree with Evans in that he’s fake and a douche, but I at least respect him a lot as a fighter because he’s finally been through adversity. And he almost finished the fight while he was really tired with an awesome move…. That spinning elbow cost me a lot of money! (I had Gus in that one)

  • https://www.facebook.com/bestnicknameeverbros Eugenio Croitoru

    Agreed, no doubt. Best fight I’ve seen 2013.

    Even bought a poster because of this fight.

  • Dragon Kid

    Hunt vs Silva wasn’t so great, it was okay at best.

  • LAlies

    Chandler/Alvarez 2 was a tremendous fight as well. Shouldve had a co-FOTY

  • solo

    Alot of people thought that Alex dont stand a chance before a fight. And than as soon as the fight started, you could see that its gonna be interesting, with the reach not being big difference and with Gus striking technique. But the key of the fight imo, and why was the fight so amazing is takedown defence. I remember that it got to the point when i was thinking “what the hell is happenening”, i was grabing my head in disbelief, jumping out of my seat like crazy person. Jon was losing the fight, people cant believe it. Than he menage to turn things around with the spining elbow and Gus was able to survive the attack. 5th round Jon is trying to finish Gus is barely standing and again he was able to survive. Best moment of all is that picture in the hospital after the fight. So yea, without a doubt the best, most entertaining, techical and with little bit suprising elements to it, this fight was no.1

  • otto

    Lot of choices for this one, no ones mentioning Grice vs Bermudez, a classic…..over all a fine choice, like many have said you knew it was on when Jones wasnt able to impose his will, Gus took it, and fired right back, sort of fought like it was a sparring session where they let it all hang out, thats what it reminded me of