Jones (19-1), who lives in Albuquerque and trains at Jackson-Winkeljohn MMA gym, won with his closest margin, with the judges scoring the five-round fight 48-47, 48-47 and 49-46.
Gustafsson (15-2) gave a remarkable effort, getting the best of the early rounds before hanging on in the fourth and fifth. He made Jones look human, cutting him and taking him down for the first time in his UFC career. As he promised, the Swede’s hands were faster.
It wasn’t until the end of the fourth round that a bloody Jones finally did damage, setting the stage for a dramatic fifth.
Both men were bleeding. Jones took Gustafsson down but the Swede fought his way back to his feet. Gustafsson looked exhausted and Jones threw everything at him, mixing elbows and kicks.
In the co-main event at the Air Canada Centre, interim bantamweight title-holder Renan Barao stopped former WEC champion Eddie Wineland in spectacular fashion, finishing him with a spinning back kick to the face in the second round.
The 6-foot-5 Gustafsson had a 1-inch height advantage on Jones, though the champion still had a 3-inch reach advantage thanks to his UFC-leading 84½-inch wingspan.
Gustafsson coolly stuffed an early takedown and came at Jones, who fought back with kicks. The Swede cut the champion at the right eye midway through the first round. And with a minute left, he took Jones down for the first time in the champion’s UFC career.
Jones just missed with a spinning elbow in a first round that was good for Gustafsson.
The Swede tripped Jones as he attempted a kick early in the second, only to have Jones get back up and charge at him. Jones stalked Gustafsson, who stuffed another takedown.
Gustafsson looked to stick and move in the third while Jones looked for answers. In the fourth, Gustafsson continued to move in and out, with Jones’ face showing more damage from strikes.
“I finally got the dogfight I was looking for,” Jones said, adding he needed more work in the gym.
The win – his 10th straight – gives Jones a record-six consecutive title defenses in UFC light-heavyweight history.
“He’s the champ for a reason,” Gustafsson said.