Top MMA News Breaks Down UFC 165: The Canadian Prelims
The UFC has stacked this card full of Canadian favourites throughout the preliminary portion. There is no doubt that this card should be exciting from start to finish. The UFC’s return to Toronto on September 21st will mark the fourth event in the city since the legalization of MMA in Ontario. There will be four preliminary bouts live on Sportsnet 360 in Canada and Fox Sports 1 in the US. The remaining four prelims will be aired live on YouTube and Facebook.
Preliminary Bouts Live on Sportsnet 360 (Canada) & Fox Sports 1 (US)
Mike Ricci (8-3) vs. Myles Jury (12-0)
Mike Ricci has the talent to be a solid Lightweight in the UFC, but going up against the undefeated Myles Jury will be no simple task. This should be a solid battle of two Ultimate Fighter alums trying to move forward in the UFC Lightweight division.
Ricci showed his ability on the show, proving to be one of the very few impressive fighters that appeared during season 16. He has a solid overall skill set and can control a fight based on talent alone. Jury is an aggressive fighter with knockout power and good grappling.
Based on their recent performances, there is no doubt Jury has been the more impressive fighter. If Ricci avoids getting tagged and uses an intelligent strategy to get in and out, he can hurt Jury or come out with a decision. Jury just seems to be better prepared to climb up the ladder and will likely take control of this bout.
Prediction: Jury via TKO Round 2
Ivan Menjivar (25-10) vs. Wilson Reis (16-4)
After losing two of his last three bouts, Ivan Menjivar is prepared to recover against Wilson Reis, who will be making his Octagon debut. Menjivar is one of the top ranked Bantamweights in the world and his goal against Reis should be to show why that is.
Reis is no joke and if he is able to get the fight to the ground, he could control Menjivar from top position and possibly pull off the upset. Reis was one of the original fighters in Bellator, fighting for two years against some of the better fighters in the world. He has won four straight bouts going into this battle with Menjivar.
Menjivar will definitely want to avoid the ground game of Reis so he will need to use his active striking to move in and out and hurt the Brazilian. Reis has a tendency to swing wildly and get hit quite a bit against legitimate competition. If Menjivar puts the pressure and lands, he should eventually get the finish.
Prediction: Menjivar via TKO Round 3
Chris Clements (11-4) vs. Stephen Thompson (7-1)
It’s been bit of a long layoff for London native Chris Clements, but he finally gets to bring his exciting, aggressive style back into the Octagon as he takes on karate stud Stephen Thompson. This should, hopefully, be a striking war and an entertaining one between a technician and a brawler.
Clements will need to recover after a tough loss to Matt Riddle but it may be a bit complicated to do so against somebody as skilled as Thompson. Matt Brown showed that the best way to beat Thompson is to keep him on his heels and never allow him to get comfortable.
Clements will aggressively pursue Thompson with punches and unorthodox kicks and he might just land a decent amount of them. If Thompson’s last fight showed us anything though, it is that the loss to Brown showed him how to be a smarter fighter. Thompson will likely keep his distance and willingly grapple if Clements gets too close.
Prediction: Thompson via Unanimous Decision
Mitch Gagnon (9-2) vs. Dustin Kimura (10-0)
Canadian fans are absolutely crazy about Mitch Gagnon. It is tough to blame them considering his exciting style and his aggressive nature. He will be taking on Dustin Kimura, who won his debut against Chico Camus to maintain his unblemished record.
Gagnon will look to do the usual. He will push forward and be the aggressor against another solid opponent that will look to avoid his initial barrage. Kimura has good striking and a scary BJJ game off of his back. It may be in Gagnon’s best interest to stay patient instead of doing what he did against Bryan Caraway.
Kimura will be looking to just avoid the first round blitz against the cage that Gagnon will aim for. If he is able to, it starts to become an easier fight for him. Gagnon needs to make a decision: stay patient early to last or try to finish the fight immediately. This should be very unpredictable but Kimura seems to be a bit less proven than Gagnon.
Prediction: Gagnon via Unanimous Decision
Preliminary Bouts Live on YouTube/Facebook
John Makdessi (11-2) vs. Renee Forte (8-2)
After getting little appreciation after two straight losses, John Makdessi looked untouchable in his striking battles against Sam Stout and Daron Cruickshank. He will be going up against Brazilian Renee Forte, who got a much needed decision victory over Terry Etim back in February.
Forte has a pretty decent range of abilities to use in the cage but he will definitely be looking to get Makdessi down. He will likely try to push the fight forward and get Makdessi up against the cage to work for takedowns. He will clearly be the bigger fighter but Makdessi is lightening quick and makes it difficult for fighters to get close.
Makdessi has some of the best striking in the Lightweight division but he is always the smaller fighter. He must sway away from any takedown attempts by Forte and keep the fight at a good distance. Firas Zahabi seems to have taught him how to jab his way to a dominant victory, and this could very well go the same way.
Prediction: Makdessi via Unanimous Decision
Jesse Ronson (13-2) vs. Michel Prazeres (16-1)
Many Canadians are ecstatic about the debut of Jesse Ronson. He will be in for a very tough test against Michel Prazeres, who was originally set to take on Mark Bocek. Ronson has had great success on the Canadian circuit and has been awaiting his opportunity to make the big leagues.
Ronson has a solid all around skillset with good striking. It isn’t easy to predict how he will perform on short notice against a truck like Prazeres, who made his UFC debut against Paulo Thiago at Welterweight. He nearly came out on top in that fight and looked impressive enough for the UFC to believe he deserved another shot.
Ronson will need to try to land something to come out on top because Prazeres will likely aim to dominate the fight with his grappling. If he is able to grab on to Ronson, he may never let go. It should be interesting to see how Ronson performs in the most important fight of his career in his home country but it is tough seeing it going well.
Prediction: Prazeres via Rear Naked Choke Round 2
Roland Delorme (9-1) vs. Alex Caceres (8-5)
It doesn’t make much sense having a legitimate fight of the night candidate as an online preliminary bout. Roland Delorme has proven to be one of the hardest working, toughest and exciting fighters the Bantamweight division has to offer. The Winnipeg native will be going up against Alex Caceres, who has had a strange but entertaining run in the UFC.
Delorme has had a couple tremendous performances with the UFC, including an awesome come from behind win over Nick Denis and a hard fought decision victory over Edwin Figueroa. He has outstanding grappling from the top and the bottom but he is going up against another strong grappler who will be going into the bout with a clear striking advantage.
If the fight stays on the feet, it is tough to see how Delorme can defeat Caceres. Delorme will likely want to try overpowering Caceres, which may be a little tough but as long as he is avoiding the stand up, and he likely will, he does have an advantage, albeit, a minor one. It should be an awesome battle of exchanges as Delorme squeaks by but not after a few scary moments.
Prediction: Delorme via Unanimous Decision