Tuesday, September 24, 2013

UFC 165 Recap

Jones and Gustafsson hanging out
 in a Toronto hospital after their fight.
Heading towards a stacked lineup to finish out 2013, the UFC made a stop in Toronto.  Compared to UFC 166, 167, and 168, this card did not seem as exciting despite it featuring two title fights.  This of course was because both title fights seemed like complete mismatches.  UFC 165 proved me wrong and entertained anyone who made it a point to go out and watch the fights on Saturday.  Jones vs Gustafsson stole the show as one of the best fights off all time.


  • Daniel Omielanczuk and Nandor Guelmino put on a battle of awesome names and heavy power to kick the night off.  They both went back and forth in the stand up as well as the grappling.  Nandor looked to be in better shape but Daniel Omielanczuk was able to connect with a powerful punch in the 3rd round to finish the fight.  This was an entertaining scrap of people making their UFC debuts.  Omielanczuk showed a lot of heart by digging deep and getting the finish in a very close fight.
  • Alex Caceres systematically picked apart Roland Delorme from start to finish in their fight.  Delorme had his moments with heavier punches and some ground control, but Caceres was clearly the better man on Saturday.  So long as his drug test comes out clean, this is a huge win for Alex Caceres despite the split decision.
  • Jesse Ronson also was given the benefit of being a Canadian by one judge in his split decision loss to Michel Prazeres.  Michel looked better start to finish in a boring grappling match.  Prazeres is very strong at lightweight and a well seasoned submission artist.
  • John Makdessi had quite the impressive KO over Renee Forte.  It was quite the counter punch that hit Forte on the temple and won him the fight in the first round.
  • Mitch Gagnon and Dustin Kimura were early candidates for Fight of the Night.  Kimura rocked Gagnon with a body shot in some of the wild exchanges early.  Gagnon was able to jump on a submission when he sank in a guillotine choke that put Kimura to sleep.  This was the first of 2 fighters to not tap, and actually fall asleep on this card.  Excellent job by Yves Lavigne to notice Kimura was out by stopping the fight at the perfect time.  Gagnon took home $50,000 for Submission of the Night.
  • Stephen "Wonderboy" Thompson put his wrestling on display against Chris Clements in the first round of his fight.  In the 2nd, he went back to the striking we all love him for.  I was thinking in the 2nd round that he throws so many kicks that Clements wasn't even thinking about Thompson's punches.  Just as that thought went through my head, Wonderboy threw a nasty combo of punches that finished Clements.  Another impressive KO win for Wonderboy who has bested everybody he faced but Matt Brown.  Brown is on a 6 fight win streak and finished every opponent except Thompson, if that is any consolation.
  • I thought Wilson Reis would be better than Ivan Menjivar in all aspects of MMA when they squared off.  I was right.  However, I thought Menjivar would sneak away with a decision due to biased Canadian judges.  That was not the case.  Reis was impressive enough to win a unanimous decision against the bantamweight veteran.  Look for potentially big things from Wilson Reis going forward.
  • Myles Jury against Mike Ricci seemed like a fight that had to be exciting.  The fight did not live up to the expectations.  Jury was a superior wrestler and striker who took home a split decision win.  Jury stayed undefeated and will keep on winning if he doesn't get a step up in competition.
  • Pat Healy is one of the most veteran fighters in the lightweight division.  He is a seasoned veteran who is massive at 155 and tough as nails.  Khabib Nurmagomedov doesn't care who or what Pat Healy is. Nurmagomedov is a combat sambo champion and an undefeated mixed martial artist.  He was better than Healy in striking, wrestling, and was very explosive in this fight.  Khabib is in the top 10 and is here to stay.  Give this guy a top 5 opponent like Gilbert Melendez or Benson Henderson in his next fight because he is for real and he is exciting.  If he wins that fight, he is ready for a shot at the title.  As for Healy, he is not yet at gatekeeper status despite his 17 career losses.  He still submitted Jim Miller and anyone who does that is a high level lightweight.  He is still in the mix at 155 and should be given tough opponents to grind with going forward.  Maybe Rafael dos Anjos could be his next opponent?
  • Francis Carmont did not win a controversial decision in his fight with Costa Philippou, but he did put Dana White to sleep.  Boring Carmont fight again.  Crappy performance from Costa.  Quite frankly, both of their stocks dropped.  Carmont does have an 11 fight win streak including 6-0 in the UFC.  Look for Dana to give him a really tough opponent outside of title contention in his next fight so he gets a loss and more importantly, an excuse for Dana to cut him.  Okami vs Carmont anyone?
  • Brendan Schaub's glass chin held up long enough for him to sink in a nice submission against Matt Mitrione.  Schaub won with a first round d'arce choke that put Mitrione to sleep.  Dana White said this was a warmup for Schaub who will have a much bigger fight going forward.  That of course means somebody fell out of a fight already scheduled.  With Hunt/Bigfoot, DC/Nelson, Mir/Overeem, Browne/Barnett, and Gonzaga/Jordan already on tap, Schaub will likely step in for one of these guys. Personally, I don't think he will ever beat a top 10 heavyweight, so he better hope Dana wants him to fight Gonzaga or Jordan.  I hope Mir or Overeem got hurt because I don't want to see either of them cut from the UFC after their fight.
  • Renan Barao beat Eddie Wineland with a spinning back kick to the face.  I think the stoppage was a tad premature, but Barao was the better man as always.  He received high praise from Dana, calling him "The Floyd Mayweather of MMA."  Having been undefeated for over 8 years with over 20 wins in a row and over 30 fights without a loss, Barao is definitely on his way to a potential Mayweather-like record.  Especially since he is only 26 years old.  Hopefully Cruz is on deck for him in the first half of 2014.
  • Jon Jones and Alexander Gustafsson put on one of the best fights of all time on Saturday night.  Part of this was because Jones was such an overwhelming favorite.  Gustafsson came out fearless and ready to go, and rocked an awesome song in his walkout.  Jones wore a shirt that said "Not Quite Human"  which I thought was ironic, because Gustafsson showed that he is very human.  Round 1 was all Gus, using his range to pick Jones apart with his sneaky boxing.  Jones landed some kicks but it was Gustafsson landing the clean shots.  Then Gustafsson did something that nobody had ever done to Jon Jones, he took him down.  Gustafsson definitely won the first round.  The 2nd and 3rd round were also great rounds for Gustafsson.  I think they were close enough to go either way on the judges scorecards, but it was clear that Alex was landing the cleaner shots.  I gave round 2 to Alex and round 3 to Jones.  In the 4th round, Alex started dissecting Jones with his striking game.  Jones looked to be losing a 3rd round in the fight, which would have forced him to finish Gustafsson in the 5th.  With about a minute left, Jon erased the first 4 minutes of the round with one blow.  Jones threw a spinning back elbow that rocked Gustafsson and bloodied him up.  Gustafsson went into survival mode to keep the fight going.  Jones landed knees, punches, and elbows to follow up on a rocked Gustafsson, but he still could not get the takedown.  In the 5th, two exhausted fighters left everything they had in the Octagon, but it was Jones who looked to be the better man late.  Jones finally got a takedown to seal the round but the fight was very much anyones to win when the judges' decisions were read.  Jones won 49-46, 48-47, and 48-47 securing a unanimous decision.  Despite the loss, Gustafsson's stock has gone up a ton.  He will likely get a rematch although I would rather see him fight once more while Jones fights Teixeira.
On a side note: The three greatest fights I can think of have all taken place in the light heavyweight division. Those fights were Griffin vs Bonnar, Henderson vs Shogun, and of course Jones vs Gustafsson.  The Edgar/Maynard trilogy and other great fights have taken place over the years, but these three stick out to me as the best.  Even when I watch the Jones/Gustafsson fight a second time to see if the judges got it right, I found myself going absolutely insane watching the heart and souls of the two fighters on display in the most important fight of both of their lives.  I no longer disrespect Jon Jones, he is the champion for a reason and could be for a very long time.

Picks after UFC 164: 131/225
Picks last event: 3/3
Picks in this event: 7/12  (I picked Reis and Menjivar so I am just not counting it)
Pick totals: 141/240=58.75%

UFC bonuses:
FOTN: Jones/Gustafsson
SOTN: Gagnon
KOOTN: Barao

Brutal Sports Awards:
Beatdown of the Night: Nurmagomedov
Sketchiest Decision of the Night: Ronson/Prazeres
Upset of the Night: Carmont

Three Stars:
  • Alexander Gustafsson
  • Jon Jones
  • Khabib Nurmagomedov

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