Jon “Bones” Jones and Alexander “The Mauler” Gustafsson slugged it out in a Fight of the Year candidate back in September, with Jones eking out a narrow victory. While a real-life rematch will have to wait, virtual brawls between the two will be possible as soon as EA Sports UFC hits shelves this spring. After it was announced last week that the two fighters will share the game's cover, we talked with them* about the fight, their budding rivalry, and being the new faces of the franchise.
You guys had such a memorable fight. How do you feel about carrying that rivalry onto the cover of the game?
Jones: Having a good rival is going to be great for my career. I’m really excited for it, and to be on the cover is a great honor. It’s a dream come true.
Gustafsson: It’s amazing. I never thought I’d be on the cover, but we did have a great, great fight. My career took off after it. I’m in a whole different position now and it’s amazing how much support I’ve been getting from the fans. It’s really cool for me, and it’s been an amazing experience. I’d feel even better with the belt around my waist, though.
Do you think you won the first fight?
Gustafsson: Absolutely, but it was very close. It was tough.
Perhaps we have a budding Ali / Frazier rivalry on our hands.
Jones: I’m not going to go saying all that—the kid hasn’t beaten that many people. He had one great performance. But I’m happy for him. He did a good job, and it did great things for his career.
So where's the rematch?
Jones: A rematch would be cool, but fighting Glover Teixeira is going to be great. I’m trying to spread my brand, and I just fought him (Gustafsson), so now I’m getting harassed by Brazilians about how I’m going to get beat up. Me beating my next opponent and Gustafsson beating his next opponent is going to make that rematch even bigger than it would have been. It will all work out. Building up rivalries is super important for the sport, and that’s why I’ll make sure this rematch happens no matter what.
Gustafsson: I would have loved an immediate rematch, and that’s what I wanted, but it didn’t happen. So I have a new challenge coming up, and all my focus is on that.
If—when—I pit you guys against each other in the video game, how should I approach the fight?
Jones: There are a lot of things I saw in that first fight, and a lot of adjustments I need to make. I know what they are, and you’ll see when the rematch happens.
Gustafsson: Just be on him, and throw combinations. Look out for takedowns, and you got it.
Any advice for EA Sports when it comes to refining your character in the game?
Jones: More elbows. Elbows are my thing, and in the last game they really didn’t emphasize that enough. I’m hoping that in the next game they really utilize my elbows. I also want to see more fighter deterioration as the fight goes on, with swelling and bruising. Fighters should slow down after getting kicked in the leg, for example. That’s something EA Sports is working hard to get right.
The first images of the game were released over the weekend. What do you think of how virtual Bones Jones looks compared to the last UFC game?
Jones: They’ve made me sexier. It’s the real deal. I even caught my wife looking at it. She’s in love with me in the game. *Interviews were conducted individually.