In the immediate aftermath of Jon Jones narrow decision win over Alexander Gustafsson at UFC 165 last weekend everyone was talking about a rematch, including the champion himselfand UFC president Dana White, but less than a week later it appears they are already cooling off on the idea.
Though he never fully committed to the idea post-fight, White had claimed that an immediate rematch made sense and that everyone wanted to see it, even suggesting Superbowl weekend in February of 2014 as a potential date for it.
However, at a UFC 168 media gathering yesterday he appeared to be more hesitant, noting that after rewatching the fight, he now believes that Jones deserved his victory and when asked if the rematch is a good idea he indicated they might look give the champion a different challenger instead.
“It does and it doesn’t in the fact that they’re both young guys,” White told the assembled media. “Jones won the fight. The judges made the right decision. It was a great fight, it was a close fight, it was a war, you know, but the champion won. So maybe, Glover [Teixeira] fights next, and, we don’t know. But I’m getting together with Lorenzo [Fertitta] on Wednesday and we’re going to talk about it, see what we wanna do.”
At the same time Jones also appears to have changed his tune. After initially appearing open to the idea of doing the fight again, he’s now changed his mind and is looking for new challenges instead.
According to Ariel Helwani on last night’s edition of the ‘UFC Tonight’ show on FOX Sports 1, Jones has rewatched his five round instant-classic encounter with Gustafsson multiple times and he’s convinced he won decisively, taking the second, fourth and fifth rounds and potentially even the first.
As such he’s now looking to “move on” and so Glover Teixeira looks to be the man he has in his sights.
There’s certainly been a lot of momentum from fans to see the UFC strike while the iron’s hot and put together an immediate rematch, but it appears they are taking the long-term view and will try to space things out a little.
In a way it makes sense. As White noted, they are both relatively young fighters and could potentially meet each other several more times in their career so there’s no immediate rush. For some time now it’s looked to be a foregone conclusion that Jones was just too good for the rest of the division, but stretching this rivalry out for a few years could breathe new life into it and keep things interesting for longer than it otherwise might have been.
Fan interest in the rematch isn’t going to fade away – in fact the anticipation for it might even intensify the longer they’re able to hold off on making it – so fights with Teixeira and possibly even Daniel Cormier may well come next.
There’s definitely a few downsides to this strategy though. For one thing it gives the impression that Jones might be ducking Gustafsson after being given such a tough fight, while it’s also a move that will frustrate fans and there’s also the risk that either he or the Swede will be defeated before they have the opportunity to fight again.
The UFC brass were believed to have been putting their heads together to make a final decision on what they are going to do last night, so let’s hope they let us know what they’ve decided sooner rather than later, but at this stage the signs point towards it being Jones Vs Teixeira.