Top MMA News Breaks Down UFC 165 Main Card
The UFC will be making their way to Toronto for the fourth time in three years for UFC 165 at the Air Canada Center. Jon ‘Bones’ Jones will headline the event as he defends his Light-Heavyweight title against Alexander ‘The Mauler’ Gustafsson. This will mark the third time Jones will headline a card in Toronto. Also on the card will be the Interim UFC Bantamweight champion Renan Barao, as he is set to face former WEC Bantamweight champ Eddie Wineland. There will be five bouts aired live on Pay-Per-View.
UFC Light Heavyweight Championship Bout
(c) Jon Jones (18-1) vs. Alexander Gustafsson (15-1)
Many have been rambling on and on about how UFC Light-Heavyweight Champion Jon Jones is the best fighter of all time, or at least close to it. The only question mark is how will he perform against a fighter that challenges him in size? Well, after multiple impressive victories against top competition, we have yet to see a guy that will not be at a size disadvantage. At 6’5, Swedish star Alexander Gustafsson will be the biggest opponent in Jones’ career.
Beating several former titleholders didn’t seem to matter to some, which is why Jones campaigned for this bout. Gustafsson gladly did as well. Many see them as fighters with many similarities. Outside of size, these guys are very different stylistically. Gustafsson is the more technical and active striker. He bounces in and out like a Bantamweight and hits like a Heavyweight. He will need to stay active and keep off the fence against Jones. He has the ability to win the striking battle, but it’s a matter of figuring out the mystery that is Jones and capitalizing on the few (if any) mistakes Jones will make.
On the other side, Jones brings in one of the most unpredictable game plans there is in MMA. He is one of the few that efficiently utilizes a proper strategy to defeat his opponents. Surely it is expected that Jones will want to bring one of his more patient and intelligent game plans to really wear down Gustafsson on the fence and on the ground using a mix of knees and elbows to the body and head. Jones will need to cut off the cage against Gustafsson, which isn’t very hard for him to do considering his size and length.
Gustafsson is a great fighter on an awesome winning streak but he is about to hit a harsh reality going up against Jones. Several fighters presented challenges to Jones and they aren’t much different than Gustafsson. Jones has fought and dominated enough strikers in the division for us to mutually agree that outside of a knockout blow, Gustafsson is unlikely to come out on top. Jones will likely control Gustafsson in the clinch, throwing a barrage of knees as he eventually gets it to the ground and dismantles the Swede with elbows until he finds an opening for a submission.
Prediction: Jones via D’arce Choke Round 2
UFC Interim Bantamweight Championship Bout
(ic) Renan Barao (30-1) vs. Eddie Wineland (20-8-1)
Dominant is the best way to describe Renan Barao’s run. It certainly isn’t easy to name mixed martial artists that have been victorious in 30 straight bouts and many originally pegged Barao as fortunate for fighting lower competition early in his streak. Well, after beating the likes of Brad Pickett, Urijah Faber and Michael McDonald, people have stopped questioning his ability.
He will be going up against the original Bantamweight champion back in the WEC days, Eddie Wineland, who has reeled off two impressive victories over Scott Jorgensen and Pickett. It should be a crazy war on the feet as Barao will use his explosive Thai kickboxing to pick apart Wineland from the outside while Wineland pushes forward so he can properly utilize his boxing.
The reality of this bout is that Barao has become a world class athlete with minimal holes in his game while Wineland is one of the best Bantamweights in the world, but not better than some of those that Barao has definitively defeated. Wineland has that knockout power that can end this fight, but although he may land a decent amount, this fight could very well be finished because of Barao’s crazy quick transition of disciplines as he proved against McDonald and Pickett.
Prediction: Barao via Rear Naked Choke Round 4
Brendan Schaub (9-3) vs. Matt Mitrione (6-2)
There is definitely a chance that this is an exciting fight that ends in an exciting way. There is also that more likely scenario that this is a dull match that ends in an exciting way. Regardless, a finish should be expected. Brendan Schaub’s chin has done little good for his career. It cost him the Ultimate Fighter, a chance to defeat a legend and allowed a crazy comeback for a fighter that isn’t on his level. Matt Mitrione is the type of opponent that will test that chin.
Schaub showed against Lavar Johnson that he refuses to take risks on the feet anymore and he will grind out victories to stay in the UFC. Mitrione struggles against fighters that have an athletic advantage over him but his striking has proven to be top notch of late. He is much improved and has another shot at showing what he has added to his repertoire.
Mitrione struggles with guys that push him against the cage and try grappling with him. He showed that against Cheick Kongo. So if he worked on his takedown defense enough, he could probably tag Schaub and come out on top. Schaub will want to take this to the ground immediately. His boxing is very good but he gets hurt far too easily. That’s why it becomes so tough to lean towards Schaub against heavy-handed fighters.
Prediction: Mitrione via KO Round 3
Costa Philippou (12-2) vs. Francis Carmont (21-7)
Not without controversy, Francis Carmont has scored five straight wins in the Octagon. He will be going up against Costa Philippou, who is going on a similar five fight win streak, recently beating the stiffest test of his career in Tim Boetsch. The winner of this bout will likely receive an opportunity to face some top 10 opponents.
Carmont has gained a reputation over his last couple fights as sort of a dull fighter that will grab onto his opponent and work off the cage or try dragging it to the ground. Philippou has proven very durable and tough to handle for opponents, and his much-improved takedown defense along with his top of the class boxing has made for a very successful combination in the UFC.
Carmont always seems to surprise opponents with his strength. He’s physically overwhelming for most and will likely force Philippou to do plenty of work as he tried to stay on his feet. Eventually, Philippou will show that those years training with Chris Weidman have helped him develop some top-notch skills that will lead to continued success in the Middleweight division. Look for Philippou to be able to move well and aggressively pick apart Carmont in a fight that really goes his way late.
Prediction: Philippou via Unanimous Decision
Pat Healy (29-16) vs. Khabib Nurmagomedov (20-0)
Sure, their records seem like it will be obvious as to who will be coming out on top, but their skillset definitely says otherwise. Pat Healy really showed fans what he is all about against Jim Miller, absolutely dominating one of the best the UFC 155 division has to offer. Khabib Nurmagomedov, on the other hand, has been downright dominant in the UFC (minus a close bout with Gleison Tibau) and will look to inch his way closer to a title shot.
Healy has always been that tough veteran and considering his only loss in the last four years was to title contender Josh Thomson; he must be doing something right. His move to Lightweight was a necessary one that has given him a size advantage that opponents can’t seem to cope with. Nurmagomedov will likely still try pushing forward and grappling with Healy as he tries to utilize his world-class sambo skills.
This one is tough to predict. It could go multiple ways but realistically, Healy has shown weakness against fighters that can overcome the size disadvantage. That is not to say this fight will not be close. Nurmagomedov should be able to do just enough against the cage or on the feet to win a close decision as he nears a title shot.
Prediction: Nurmagomedov via Unanimous Decision