Trainer Greg Jackson believes having survived a dogfight will only make Jones better. In an interview with the Sherdog Radio Network’s “Beatdown” show, Jackson discussed Jones’ evolution, Gustafsson’s ability and more.
On being removed from Jones’ corner during the fight: “[The commission] had everybody except my name down. Some miscommunication, I guess, on the corner sheet thing, and so yeah, I got booted out of the corner. … It was fine. The other coaches are better than I am anyway. It worked out.”
On the fight: “It was nerve wracking. It was a very good fight, very close. You’ve got to give a ton of credit to Gustafsson for really pushing the pace and getting Jon out of his comfort zone, and you’ve got to give credit to Jon for overcoming that and ultimately remaining the champion. It was a lot of fun to watch. However, because I was kind of out of the corner, it was very frustrating because I couldn’t get in there and say the things I wanted to say. It was a mixed bag of emotions.”
On Gustafsson’s performance: “He certainly exceeded the expectations, I think, from everybody. I thought Jon won the fight. I thought the judges were correct and most people were correct. It’s just that Jon usually wins so easily that any kind of close, competitive fight, people are going to want to give it to the other guy. I think there was a lot of emotion there as far as scoring the fight, but [Gustafsson] really stepped up. He really fought a great game plan and he showed that he belongs right up there to be one of the best in the world. I was very impressed by him.”
On whether Gustafsson shocked him: “I was surprised by how good his takedown defense was and how good he was at controlling the distance, but not really. I think everybody else was kind of shocked, but I’ve been through it so many times that it wasn’t shocking for me. In the last 20 years, I don’t know how many corners I’ve been in, but it’s a lot. I was very concerned, but I certainly wasn’t shocked or anything.”
On what he learned about Jones: “I learned that even when things aren’t going his way, he just gets kind of tenacious and bulldogging and overcomes the problems that were in front of him … . For me, it was his best performance because you got to see that he’s got a great jaw on him. You got to see that he’s just tough. He’s just super tough. He just keeps getting in there and keeps pushing and keeps fighting. I was really impressed with Jon. As much as I was impressed with Alex, I was even more impressed with Jon because he just kept coming and just kept coming and was ultimately able to win it. For me, that’s what you’re looking for. You’ve got to be skilled and technical, but you also have to be just mean about it, just get in a dogfight and win it, and he did that.”
On Jones and dogfights: “He was tested and he passed, and that was very important. However, hopefully we won’t have to be tested like that again in a while.”
On whether the win will build even more confidence for Jones: “I think so. I think he’s going to come out as a much better fighter. He’s turning into a veteran now. He understands how to be in a five-round war, how to push the pace. He knows he can. So yeah, there’s a lot that happens in those fights like this that you come out stronger and you come out better for. I think both of these guys are going to have a little bit stronger psyche after this fight.”