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UFC 232 Jones vs. Gustafsson: Questions, answers, predictions


Well, UFC 232 is on our doorstep after a very strange path to get here. The event moved locations from Las Vegas to Los Angeles due to a picogram of turinabol being found in Jon Jones' system during USADA testing and concerns that due to the holiday week, the Nevada Athletic Commission wouldn't license Jones to fight.

There's obviously more to the story, but that's been talked about, and will be talked more about, ad nauseum. For a few minutes, let's focus on the show itself which is pretty damn great from top to bottom.

Helping me finish off the year, as always, are Paul Fontaine and Ryan Frederick. If you're interested in hearing more about the year that was, check out part 1 and part 2 of my year in review series.

For what it's worth, thie UFC on Fox era officially ends tonight with the FS1 prelims. Then, we're onto ESPN.

The card:

  • Vacant Light Heavyweight Championship: Jon Jones vs. Alexander Gustafsson II
  • Women's Featherweight Champion Cris 'Cyborg' Justino vs. Amanda Nunes
  • Carlos Condit vs. Michael Chiesa
  • Ilir Latifi vs. Corey Anderson
  • Chad Mendes vs. Alexander Volkanovski
  • Andrei Arlovski vs. Walt Harris
  • Cat Zingano vs. Megan Anderson
  • Douglas Silva de Andrade vs. Petr Yan
  • BJ Penn vs. Ryan Hall
  • Andre Elwell vs. Nathaniel Wood
  • Uriah Hall vs. Bevon Lewis
  • Curtis Millender vs. Siyar Bahadurzada
  • Brian Kelleher vs. Montel Jackson

What are you most looking forward to?

Paul: Not the main event, that’s for sure. I’m sure it will be a great fight but the whole leadup just leaves a sour taste in my mouth. The co-main is it for me. This is the closest betting line for a Cris Cyborg fight ever and for good reason. Nunes has quietly put together one of the most impressive runs in the history of women’s MMA, the names on her resume are arguable bigger than Cyborg’s, and she’s gotten finishes against most of them. The only issue I have with this fight is the aftermath as the women's bantamweight division (where Nunes is still champion) is kind of a mess no matter what happens.

Ryan: Regardless of the circumstances surrounding it, Jones vs. Gustafsson is the fight to watch. Their first fight was an absolute classic and one of the best fights in UFC history. There’s nothing to say that this one won’t be just as good, and the co-main event between Cyborg and Nunes should be just as good. We will see who the best female fighter on the planet is, and it couldn’t come at a better time as both are at the top of their game right now. It could have easily headlined its own event. There are two fantastic fights on top of this card.

Josh: Even with the issues leading into the event, it's still Jones vs. Gus. I loved that first fight so much that I'm glad we finally get to seem them bring it back, but it's a goddamn shame all of the b.s. has put an asterisk on this. If Gus wins, he's a mega babyface. If Jones wins, I'm guessing we'll hear more boos than cheers but that seems to flip with the situation.

Anything being slept on?

Ryan: There are a lot of fun fights on this card. Carlos Condit is one of the most exciting fighters in MMA history and has an opponent in Michael Chiesa who should give him a fun fight. The featherweight bout between Mendes and Volkanovski is a great matchup and a real test to see whether Volkanovski will be able to break through to contender status.

Paul: BJ Penn fighting on the televised opener, I guess. That speaks to the depth of this card but also shows how far he’s fallen. I do think that Ryan Hall is a good opponent in the sense that Penn probably won’t take a lot of damage but I don’t think he has much chance of winning. That said, 155 is probably a better weight class for him if he is insistent on fighting.

Josh: Without a doubt, Nunes vs. Cyborg. The Jones drug stuff has taken all the focus away from this bout which should be the best women's fight in MMA history based on skill level and accomplishments. Cyborg's March contract date is also a fun side note to all of this and if she doesn't fight again by that date, tonight could be her UFC swan song. A win for her could mean the end of her division while a loss just throws more wrenches into the 135/145 equation yet again. 

Anything not doing it for you?

Josh: Not necessarily a fight, but I'm confused why UFC keeps running Andrei Arlovski and BJ Penn out there. I know Arlovski has picked up some wins, but they are getting less and less enjoyable to watch. As the kids say, Penn has been washed for quite some time. Hall isn't a heavy hitter, but Penn has lost seven of his last nine. The lone win? A 2010 knockout of the then-equally as done Matt Hughes. No buys.

Paul: Ilir Latifi vs. Corey Anderson feels like something I’ve seen a dozen times before even though they’ve never fought. The fact that these may be two of the top five light heavyweights in the UFC speaks more to how much the division has fallen than it does about either of these two guys. This really should almost be a title eliminator but I can’t see Jones or Gustafsson defending against either of these two any time soon.

Ryan: I’m not really a fan of Penn fighting again. I think it’s long past time for him to hang it up for good. If there is a fight for him to take, it is against Hall. It’s a low-risk fight where he will likely not take a lot of damage, but Hall will make it a boring fight, and Penn isn’t one, at this stage of his career, who will engage freely unless forced to. It could be a very boring fight.

What will be people talking about most after the show is done?

Paul: How long it will be until Jones fails another drug test. That and/or what’s next for Jones. Win or lose, he’s got big money fights lined up with either Brock Lesnar or Daniel Cormier, neither of which would likely involve the title he’s fighting for. Should Gustafsson win, he’s either going to want a rematch with Cormier or a rubber match with Jones. But, it’s likely 50/50 that Jones somehow fails another test and this belt ends up held up at the end of it all and UFC will only have themselves to blame should that happen.

Ryan: While it should be talk about whomever wins the fight between Cyborg and Nunes, it will unfortunately be about how Jon Jones is again the UFC Light Heavyweight Champion under these ridiculous circumstances. He shouldn’t even be fighting now, or perhaps ever, but for whatever reason they decide to give him of all people a free pass. It’s not a good look for the company, and they’re putting themselves in this situation and not seeming to care how they look to their other fighters and their fans.

Josh: That Jones is still one of, if not THE, best of all time and that he will continue to be the most talked about fighter of today outside of Conor McGregor. Also, he'll call out Lesnar and will try to steal that fight from Cormier. The other thing that will be talked about quite a bit is how the UFC handled this week. While Dana White doesn't care about what people think about him or the UFC, I am interested to see what long-term damage, if any, was caused by this week. My gut says they will be fine...and they know it.

Who wins?

Jones vs. Gus II

- Jones: Paul, Josh, Ryan

Cyborg vs. Nunes

- Cyborg: Ryan, Josh
- Nunes: Paul

Condit vs. Chiesa

- Chiesa: Paul, Nason
- Condit: Ryan

Cat Zingano vs. Megan Anderson

- Zingano: Paul, Ryan, Josh

BJ Penn vs. Ryan Hall

- Hall: Josh, Paul
- Penn: Ryan