One of the most familiar debates in any sport pertains to an athlete being the “next” all-time great. Is Sidney Crosby the next Mario Lemieux? Is LeBron James the next Michael Jordan? Is Alexander Gustafsson the next Jon Jones?
I’ll leave the first two up to pundits more familiar with both sports but as far as the latter goes the answer is simple. No, he’s not.
Was Gutsafsson’s performance against Thiago Silva impressive? Somewhat, but it paled in comparison to Jones’ showings against former champions like Quinton Jackson, Mauricio Rua, and Lyoto Machida. Gustafsson had a convincing decision win over a guy who had been on the shelf for more than a year and whose biggest career victory involved Keith Jardine in 2009, seven months after the last time Jones saw the scorecards.
Also, consider that Gustafsson has a legitimate loss on his record rather than a fluke disqualification involving an illegally-angled elbow to an already-finished opponent. The 25-year old Swede, eighteen months Jones’ senior, was submitted by Phil Davis in the opening round of the bout no less. That outcome in itself separates Jones from any comparison between the two other than a couple of common opponents and their physical dimensions. Even then, though both in the 6’4-6’5 range, Jones still has an eight-inch longer reach than Gustafsson.
It’s time to take the pressure of being something he’s not and never will be off the 14-1 Gustafsson’s shoulders. Let him be “The Mauler”, nothing more and nothing less; let him carve out his own career in MMA instead of expecting him to fill oversized shoes.
PHOTO CREDIT – UFC