‘Hmmmmm, I think I miss it…I don’t know’
That was former UFC Light-Heavyweight Champion Jon Jones’s reaction to current title holder Daniel Cormier’s successful defense against Alexander Gustafsson at UFC 192 in Houston, Texas.
It was a UFC title fight that many are calling the Fight of the Year, but one that left more questions asked than those answered. As well as the lingering necessity over the return of Jones after Cormier’s split decision (48-47, 47-48, 49-46) over ‘The Mauler’ on Saturday night.
The judging of the fight was questioned, with a strong case being presented for a Gustafsson decision win. In retrospect, the third round of the fight is effectively where the bout was decided. Did Cormier’s volume of strikes supersede the vigorous knee of Gustafsson which knocked down the champion?
Both Sal D’Amato and Kerry Hatley scored round three 10-9 for Daniel Cormier, whilst Derek Cleary scored 10-9 for Gustafsson.
In the Rules and Regulations of MMA Judging (Jii) it states that ‘a round is to be scored as a 10-9 round when a contestant wins by a close margin, landing the greater number of effective legal strikes, grappling and other maneuvers’.
DC landed 45 total strikes in the third, 36 of them significant, whereas Gustafsson landed 34 strikes, 33 of which were significant. The rules ambiguously omit whether or not a knockdown outweighs effective striking.
Both D’Amato and Cleary agreed that Gus took round two and four, with all three judges conceding that Cormier edged rounds one and five. Therefore showing how important round three was in scoring the entire fight at UFC 192.
Despite this, Cormier was tested to the best of his ability by a resilient Gustafsson; who yet again finds himself on the wrong side of an extremely close decision loss.
With Ryan Bader also beating Rashad Evans at UFC 192, he may be set as Cormier’s next opposition, however the majority would undoubtedly prefer a UFC 182 rematch, where Cormier unanimously fell to then champion Jones in Las Vegas.
In the UFC 192 Post-Fight Press Conference, when asked about a rematch with Jones, Cormier responded: “Jon Jones is Jon Jones. I think he’s the greatest fighter of all time and when he gets cleared to fight, then we’ll fight, but I’m not going to fight him in New York so you guys can write that.”
This comes after the news that the UFC have booked Saturday April 23, 2016 at Madison Square Garden in New York; the birth place of Jones, despite the professional sport not yet legalized in the state.
Despite deleting his Instagram post hinting towards his return to the Octagon, a Jones homecoming for early-mid 2016 is definitely a huge possibility now that his legal proceedings have been concluded.
Regardless of where the event takes place, there impending re-arrival of Jones to the Light-Heavyweight division has been speculated heavily. The fighter that many consider the pound-for-pound best has left a huge hole at 205lbs, something which Cormier has undeniably tried to fill to little success.
The champion has shown with his wins over Anthony “Rumble” Johnson and now Gustafsson that he is one of the best mixed martial artists on the planet, but until he beats Jones the question will remain over the legitimacy of the gold belt that Cormier valiantly carries around his waste.