UFC 165 ‘Jones vs Gustafsson’ preliminary card breakdown

September 20, 2013

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UFC 165 ‘Jones vs Gustafsson’ preliminary card breakdown



Alexander Lee – “UFC 165” airs live on PPV, Saturday, September 21.  Preliminaries will be broadcast on Facebook/Youtube starting at 6:15 PM (EST).  Coverage will continue on Sportsnet 360, with televised preliminaries beginning at 8 PM (EST).  The main card starts at 10 PM.

As with most excursions outside of the United States, home cooking is the order of the day.  Featured Canadian fighters include Roland Delorme (Winnipeg, MB), Jesse Ronson (London, ON), John Makdessi (Halifax, NS), Mitch Gagnon (Sturgeon Falls, ON), Chris Clements (Chatham, ON), and Mike Ricci (Montréal, QC).  Of course, we can’t leave out beloved veteran and adopted Canadian Ivan Menjivar (Montréal, QC by way of El Salvador).

*****

Uncertainty surrounds the night’s first heavyweight match-up between Nandor Guelmino (0-0 UFC, 11-4-1) and Daniel Omielanczuk (0-0 UFC, 15-3-1).  After the Soa PaleleiNikita Krylov debacle at UFC 164, you have to think seeing two more unproven heavyweights given the responsibility of jazzing up the crowd would give Dana White a heart attack.  He’ll probably be happy if neither of these guys suffer heart attacks themselves.  All kidding aside, the UFC is reaching out to all parts of the globe to restock the always fickle heavyweight division.

Guelmino is out to prove that he’s more than just the guy who was brought in to face Josh Barnett so Strikeforce could fulfill their contract obligations.  The thickly muscled Austrian intelligently uses range to score points, showing off the benefits of a Tae Kwon Do background.  He also has a sneaky submission game.  Guelmino is a cerebral fighter who takes time to get going, another aspect that is cause for concern from an entertainment standpoint.

Omielanczuk is on an impressive 11 fight win streak, though the competition has been sorely lacking (combined record: 23-24, 2 opponents with a 0-0 record).  It isn’t his job to line them up, he just knocks them down.  Hailing from Poland, the short heavyweight likes to stay low to set up takedowns and work ground and pound.  He’ll be searching for a quick finish against the resilient Guelmino.

*****

The spotlight will be shining brightly on 27-year old Jesse Ronson (0-0 UFC, 13-2).  He has won his last eight contests and faces a daunting challenge in Michel Prazeres (0-1 UFC, 16-1).  Ronson’s journey to the UFC included wins over top Canadian prospects Jason Saggo, Brad Causey and Alex RicciMark Hominick and Sam Stout have praised Ronson for his sharp work ethic and evolving striking, though there are doubts about his ability to combat high level grapplers.  That part of his game will be put to the test against Prazeres, a Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt who stepped in after Toronto’s own Mark Bocek (no slouch on the ground himself) bowed out with an injury.

*****

During the first edition of The Ultimate Fighter: Brazil, a season defined by passion and heart, being called out for quitting by no less than Wanderlei Silva himself was a damning indictment of young Renee Forte (1-1 UFC, 8-2).  I was surprised he got the call to compete at UFC 153, even more surprised when that loss somehow earned him fight against Terry Etim, and downright flabbergasted when he actually beat Etim!  Forte was a 3-1 underdog travelling to England, where Etim just happens to be from.  With his livelihood on the line, Forte came out aggressively and never let up on the gas pedal.  His match with John Makdessi (4-2 UFC, 11-2), another squat and powerful striker, should lead to an explosive finish.  Maybe Wandy was wrong about this one.

*****

Don’t sleep on Chris Clements (1-0 UFC [1 NC], 11-4 [1 NC]) and Stephen Thompson (2-1 UFC, 7-1), a bout that wouldn’t look out of place on a K-1 card.  Clements has been making a name for himself with an exciting, brawling style.  He authored the fastest knockout in MMA history back in 2006, a 3-second flash KO of a leaping Lautaro Tucas.

Standing across from Clements is Thompson, the aptly named “Wonderboy” who boasts an unblemished kickboxing record in almost 60 combined amateur and professional fights.  In his last appearance, he beat Nah-Shon Burrell, redeeming himself after a humbling loss at the hands of current contender Matt Brown.  It will be interesting to see how he reacts if Clements decides to throw technique out the window and force the action.

*****

In the preliminary main event, Mike Ricci (1-1 UFC, 8-3) will be facing the biggest test of his career against undefeated Myles Jury (3-0 UFC, 12-0).  The much vaunted Jury has been nothing short of a wrecking ball, winning his first 10 career fights in the first round and manhandling Michael Johnson and Ramsey Nijem.  Ricci hasn’t had the best luck against top competition and he’ll need to have the best performance of his career to be victorious on Saturday night.

*****

With the interim bantamweight title on the line later in the evening, it’s only fitting that the division is well represented on the preliminary card:

On Facebook/Youtube:

Alex Caceres (3-3 UFC [1 NC], 8-5 [1 NC]) v. Roland Delorme (3-0 UFC [1 NC], 9-1 [1 NC])

Seeing a fight ending in a “No Contest” has to be the worst thing in MMA.  It is as deflating as a double technical or off-setting penalties.  Nobody’s happy.

Caceres and Delorme both have odd NCs on their records.  In Caceres’ case, he lost a split decision win over Kyung Ho Kang after testing positive for marijuana.  It was a dumb mistake, especially for a kid who has stressed focus and maturity since joining the UFC.  Caceres still has a 3-1 record as a UFC bantamweight, showing that there are results to go along with his charisma.

For Delorme, the NC erased a KO loss when Francisco Rivera was busted for a banned substance.  That violation kept Delorme’s record spotless, technically speaking.  He relies heavily on one discipline, BJJ; luckily, he’s so darn good at it.  As dangerous off his back as he is from the top, there aren’t too many fighters out there looking to go to the ground with him.  What we have here is a specialist going against a jack-of-all trades.  Delorme could fall prey to Caceres’s diverse skill set or he could simply force “Bruce Leeroy” to meet him on the mat.  Whatever happens, let’s hope this one counts.

On Sportsnet 360 (Fox Sports 1 in the US):

Mitch Gagnon (1-1 UFC, 9-2) v. Dustin Kimura (1-0 UFC, 10-0, W10)

In another fight that will likely go under the radar, we have what should be a thrilling battle between two submission wizards.  Gagnon and Kimura have won 16 of 19 fights by submission.

Normally, I’d be wary of this sort of encounter as good grappling tends to neutralize good grappling and that leads to bad kickboxing.  I don’t think that will be the case here.  Kimura is super aggressive going for submissions, both willing and eager to pull guard.  Gagnon will not shy away from following him to the ground should Kimura attempt this tactic.  Whether that is wise or not remains to be seen.

And before you ask, no: Kimura has never won via kimura.

Ivan Menjivar (4-3 UFC, 25-10) v. Wilson Reis (0-0 UFC, 16-4)

With time spent in well known promotions like EliteXC and Bellator and a BJJ black belt lineage that can be traced back to Rickson Gracie, Reis has all the makings of a solid UFC signing.  His convoluted path to the grandest stage involved his first fight being scrapped due to an opponent injury and his spot on this card as an injury replacement himself.  Got that?

Reis went 6-4 in Bellator and never made it farther than the semifinals in either the 145 or 135 pound brackets.  It’s no shame to lose to the likes of Patricio Freire and Eduardo Dantas, though those results suggest Reis is a step short of the elite.  A win over Menjivar would instantly renew interest in Reis, who was a top prospect when he began his career in 2007.

Then again, it’s not smart to bet against “The Pride of El Salvador”.  A pioneer of the lighter weight classes, Menjivar has been through wars with some of the biggest names in the business.  You wouldn’t know that he’s entering his 36th career fight if you watched him.  He still springs around the cage and fights with the enthusiasm of a kid just starting his career.  Originally, Menjivar was scheduled to face Japanese legend Kid Yamamoto in a fight that hardcore fans were salivating for.  Expect him to put on a show against Reis to make up for it.

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