UFC 165 Main Card Preview: Will Jones Trade With Gustafsson?

September 18, 2013


UFC 165 Main Card Preview: Will Jones Trade With Gustafsson?

Dwight Wakabayashi – Has size and reach been the secret to all of Jon Jones’ success in his career thus far? Many people believe that the fact that the Swedish challenger is every bit as big as Jones is, that this fight will be his toughest test to date. I would agree with that assessment if this fight was forced to stay standing but the moment the fight hits the mat, Gustafsson’s long limbs will be ripe for Jones’ taking.

The question is, will the undisputed champion try to silence his critics and play the risky game of beating Gustafsson at his own game, or will wisdom and winning be his priority, and lead him to take it down to the canvas for a tap out win.  It won’t be long now until we get to find out at the Air Canada Center in Toronto.

Here is my UFC 165 main card preview with predictions

Jon Jones (18-1) vs. Alexander Gustafsson (15-1) – light heavyweight title

Jon Jones is a cerebral assassin. He goes out and takes what his opponents give him and this fight will be no different. I have no doubt that, similar to the Machida fight, Jones will test the waters in the first round and see what he can see with the long and lean striker. If he gets touched early and does not see any openings for himself, I have no doubt that he will quickly take this fight in tight and try for a submission.

I believe Gustafsson is the better technical striker, and with his length he will be able to score on Jones more than Jones scores on him, but if and when this fight goes to the ground Jones will submit Gustafsson very quickly.

Jones via submission

Renan Barao (30-1) vs. Eddie Wineland (20-8) – interim bantamweight title

Once again, the UFC has served up something special for a Toronto card and there is a second title fight on the main card. It does carry an interim tag due to the real champion, Dominick Cruz still being on the sidelines after a year and a half with a knee injury. Barao will be defending his interim title for the second time, after defeating youngster Michael McDonald in February. His game is incredibly diverse with his powerful and dynamic kicking game leading the way and keeping his opponents at a cool distance. Quite simply, Barao can do it all at a very high level and I really can’t wait to see him take on a healthy Cruz.

Wineland is a very crafty veteran who has earned this opportunity with sustained hard work and impressive wins over fellow veterans Scott Jorgensen and Brad Pickett. Wineland has a great reach and very good hands so he can stand and trade punches with Barao if he can get through those kicks and into punching range. In my opinion, the key to this fight will be similar to the McDonald fight. Wineland will be able to hang with Barao for a round or two, but the pace that Barao sets will be too much for Wineland, and he will be the first one to tire and make a fatal mistake.

Barao via submission

Brendan Schaub (9-3) vs. Matt Mitrione (6-2) – heavyweight

Two very polarizing TUF alum fighters Brendan  Schaub and Matt Mitrione will fight each other to see who can get back some momentum in the big boy division. Both men were on a rapid rise before being knocked down by losses to contenders and both want to get back up to that status again. Both these men have proven that they can defeat the Phil DeFries’ and Lavar Johnson’s of the world but fall short in the bigger fights against the very best in the division.

I think there is something to be said about guys like these who are willing to put themselves out there and slug it out (see Pat Barry), but I believe that Schaub learned that lesson and is determined to fight a smarter and more game-planned style of fight.  This could be a problem for Mitrione, as I have yet to see him be much more than a tough yet one-dimensional fighter.

Schaub has more ways to win, but if he decides the stand, trade and entertain approach is the way to go, I like Mitrione’s chances.

Schaub via TKO

Costa Philippou (12-2) vs. Francis Carmont (middleweight)

Tristar’s Francis Carmont is an adopted Canuck and the only Canadian on the main card. A ten fight winning streak says that Carmont is riding high in the UFC but looks can be very deceiving. His last two wins over Tom Lawlor and Lorenz Larkin were controversial decision wins that could have easily gone the other way. A hard fought and close battle decision is nothing to be ashamed of but Carmont’s performances were extremely lackluster and lacking and he needs something dynamic in this one.  Matchups make fights, and Lawlor is a filthy grappler and it is hard to make an exciting fight with him, but Larkin was ready to bang and entertain and it was Carmont who decided to hug it out for the win.

There is nowhere to hide when Philippou stands across from you and he is on a five win streak as well. His most recent win over Tim Boetsch proved that he can hang with the very elite of the division. Philippou is very good everywhere and will force Carmont to bring out every trick in his arsenal in order to hang in the fight to the end. Philippou will keep this fight standing as much as possible, and that will tell us all we need to know about whether Carmont is indeed a real contender.

Philippou via TKO

Pat Healy (29-16) vs. Khabib Nurmagomedov (20-0) – lightweight

The resurging veteran Healy will try to be the man to put the first loss on Tthe Russian phenom, Nurmagomedov’s record. Healy got his most impressive win of his career with a submission over Jim Miller in April, however he tested positive for Marijuana following the fight and the win was overturned to a No Contest. Healy is a very experienced and well-rounded fighter who is most dangerous on the ground, and a clean win here will prove the Miller win was no fluke, and he is a serious contender in the division.

Nurmagomedov is a young gun who has beaten every fighter he has faced in his career so far including the likes of Thiago Tavares, Abel Trujillo, and most notably Gleison Tibau. Healy is a step up, and the most complete fighter that the Russian has ever faced but there is no doubt he is ready. One flaw is that Nurmagomedov missed weight for his last fight against Abel Trujillo, and he needs to be on point to be reliable going forward.

Both guys can do it all fairly well, but I believe that the young  Russian can do it at a faster and more aggressive pace, and Healy will fade as the fight goes on.

Nurmagomedov via unanimous decision



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