Of Batman & Superman – Why Jon Jones’s Close Decision Win Over Alexander Gustafsson Might Be The Best Thing To Ever Happen To Him

Of Batman & Superman – Why Jon Jones’s Close Decision Win Over Alexander Gustafsson Might Be The Best Thing To Ever Happen To Him

There’s a reason why Superman makes for a poor film character while Batman makes for a tremendous one: it’s hard to cheer for someone who’s invincible with no real flaws. Jon Jones has been a hard guy to root for in his career because it always seemed too easy for him. He was always too much for everyone and didn’t seem like anyone could hang with him. Look at his UFC career until UFC 165.

Brandon Vera, Vladimir Matyushenko and Matt Hamill were all summarily dispatched without much effort. Ryan Bader’s career peak seemed to happen right before he tapped due to a guillotine choke. Pride stalwart Shogun Rua is dominated from pillar to post until he’s forced to tap to strikes six weeks later. Quinton “Rampage” Jackson was dominated and forced t submit for the first time in the Octagon. Chael Sonnen was taken down and thrashed. Vitor Belfort grabbed a hold of his arm for a brief moment … and then was dismantled and forced to tap. Lyoto Machida was dropped like a sack of groceries. Rashad Evans got the most dignity in a cage with Jones, taking a pronounced 25 minute beating en route to a career tailspin.

Jones didn’t even seem to be phased for more than a moment; that’s all it seemed like anyone had. You had your moment to take the belt … otherwise Jon Jones would figure out a way to beat you in devastating fashion. No one had given him a challenge in the cage … it was debatable if he’d even lost a round.

But the problem with invincibility is that it makes for a poor hero. It’s why Batman is the better movie hero, and always will be. There’s a sense of vulnerability to him. Superman never gets the kind of sympathy Batman does because Batman is mortal. We know he can die; it heightens the danger in anything. Superman has his one weakness, Kryptonite, and mainly trying to match him up with anyone that could put him in danger makes for a boring film most times. It’s why you can always relaunch Batman and have him be an intriguing hero: he’s human and can die at any point.

For far too long we viewed Jon Jones as Superman. He was supposed to run over Alexander Gustafsson en route to clearing out the light heavyweight division, making way for a run at heavyweight and MMA immortality. Funny thing: no one told this to “The Mauler” and he nearly took the title from the champion. On many scorecards people had it his way, 48-47, and it’s an easy argument to make. It was a tough, close decision and either way you can’t go wrong with how you thought. The fight hinged on how you scored the second; rounds 1 and 3 were for Gustafsson, 4 and 5 for Jones, with the close second marking the winner.

Jones, who was taken to the hospital after the fight, may have broken Tito Ortiz’s record for title defenses but Alexander Gustafsson made him earn every moment of it. And it might be the best thing to ever happen to Jones.

One of the reasons why Jon Jones isn’t quite as big a star as he should be is because it’s always been perceived that he’s a “bully.” He’s too big, too powerful and too long for anyone at 205 to handle. No one takes into consideration just how freakishly talented he is, and how hard he works, into the equation. He’s perceived as being on a different level above everyone and that the 205 pound weight class isn’t all that deep because of it. Jon Jones was perceived as a Superman, without flaw or weakness.

Alexander Gustafsson beat the red letter “J” off his chest Saturday night in brutal and savage fashion. And that’s a good thing. Jon Jones is human and mere mortals are more intriguing than Supermen.

Jon Jones found himself in the same position going into UFC 165 that Anderson Silva did going into UFC 117; there was no more worlds to conquer. Silva being pushed to the limit by Chael Sonnen did for him the same thing that the Alexander Gustafsson will do for Jon Jones: make him mortal. He’s instantly more compelling as a fighter and the rematch will be bound to make a significantly larger sum of money for all involved. Whether or not Gustafsson can repeat a virtuoso performance will be argued. Whether or not he’s the answer to solving the Jon Jones question is another. The brass tacks of this particular situation is that now Jon Jones isn’t merely a God among men, deigning to fight as it pleases him. He’s a fighter with flaws and a championship heart.

Superman needs to be reinvented because after a while no one cares about the invincible, God-like being defeating yet another monster of the week. Yet Batman never really has had to change for all these years because the concept remains true. A man having a weakness, and flaws, matter more in the scheme of things because it’s what can defeat a hero in his element that makes him interesting. And Jon Jones just got interesting.

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