UFC 165: What’s At Stake for the Canadians?

September 19, 2013


UFC 165: What’s At Stake for the Canadians?

Dwight Wakabayashi – The Ultimate Fighting Championships is in Toronto this week for UFC 165, and aside from two fantastically intriguing championship title fights on the main card, the rest of the fight card is filled with the best Canadian talent the UFC has to offer.

From an established veteran like bantamweight Ivan Menjivar to the UFC debut of London lightweight Jesse Ronson, the Air Canada Center will be rocking the Canadian flag high on Saturday night. All of the fights in the UFC carry heavy stakes when the cage door closes, and here is what is at stake for each of the fighters on the card.

Roland Delorme (Career: 9-1-1 / UFC: 3-0-1)

Winnipeg bantamweight Delorme has been very good in his four fights in the UFC, and remains undefeated with one No Contest on his UFC record. Delorme has displayed elite level pace and toughness in all of his fights so far and Alex Caceres is his highest profile fight to date. The American fighting out of Miami is recognized and popular TUF alum whose solid game has surprised many inside the Octagon.

Caceres is probably a bit better than Delorme on the ground but Delorme is better all-around and he must force Caceres into fighting the fight at his pace if he wants the dominant victory. If Delorme can get a convincing win or finish over the polarizing Caceres, he will vault himself up in the consciousness of many fans throughout North America.

Jesse Ronson (Career: 13-2 / UFC debut)

Twenty seven year old London, Ontario lightweight and Adrenaline Training Center star Jesse Ronson has been battering people in the Canadian regional circuit for a few years now and gets his shot filling in for Canadian veteran Mark Bocek. Ronson and Bocek are polar opposites in their strengths and that may cause a preparation issue for Brazilian opponent Michel Prazeres. Prazeres is a physically imposing submission specialist who lost his UFC debut to Paulo Thiago via decision in May.

This is a well-deserved opportunity for Ronson, and his striking is on par with many in the UFC. The question is if he will be able to keep this fight on the feet to be able to showcase his incredible striking arsenal. Ronson’s wrestling is much underrated, but he has not faced a grappler as imposing and skilled as Prazeres yet in his career. Ronson belongs in the UFC, and although this is not the best match up for him, it is his chance to prove it.

John Makdessi (Career: 11-2 / UFC: 4-2)

Montreal’s John Makdessi is surging in his career and was set to take on contender Edson Barbosa in July but was forced out of that fight due to injury. He will now face relative unknown Brazilian Renee Forte, who is 1-1 in the UFC.

Forte is bigger man and is coming off a nice decision win over Terry Etim in February and his confidence is in nice order heading in. Makdessi should employ his frustrating jab and move style to try and bait Forte in to swinging for the fences and blowing his gas tank early in the fight. If he can dictate the range and stay disciplined to his game plan, he will definitely win and keep his stock on the rise towards that big fight that he lost with Barbosa.

Mitch Gagnon (Career: 9-2 / UFC: 1-1)

Sudbury bantamweight Mitch Gagnon has been awesome in his two fights in the UFC Octagon. His aggressive fighting style is exactly what the UFC wants and has garnered him this huge fight with Dustin Kimura. Gagnon has been recovering from a shoulder injury and has not fought in one full year, so cage rust could definitely be a factor in this fight, but Gagnon only has one speed so don’t expect him to take too much time to test the waters with Kimura.

Both these guys are submission specialists but in my opinion, Gagnon has the ability to do more damage to Kimura if he ends up in top position. The winner of this fight, if done in impressive fashion will vault himself up to the cusp of the top ten in the young and still fairly thin bantamweight division.

Chris Clements (Career: 11-4 / UFC: 1-0-1)

Veteran brawler and Chatham, Ontario’s own Chris Clements loves to stand, trade and entertain the masses and he will get a nice chance to do that here against Stephen Thompson. Thompson is a former kick boxer who will have no problem standing with the dangerous Canadian.

Clements has just recovered from shoulder surgery and has had the healthiest training camp he has had in years and he is going to need it against a player as dangerous as Thompson. At 37 years old, it is not about the climb for Clements, it is about putting on exciting fights and despite his 1-0-1 record, his spot on the roster is always at stake. Don’t blink on this one, it has the makings for a flash war.

Ivan Menjivar (Career: 25-10 / UFC: 4-2)

“The Pride of El Salvador” has done it all in his MMA career short of holding a UFC title and he just lost his last real shot at title glory with a loss to Urijah Faber in February. Menjivar is on his last legs and like Clements, looks to entertain as his main motivation at this point in his career. He has established himself as one of the best bantamweight’s Canada has ever produced and nothing from here on in can change that.

Menjivar is always one loss away from retirement but in my opinion, debut fighter Wilson Reis is too green to make that happen this time.

Mike Ricci (Career: 8-3 / UFC: 1-1)

Mike Ricci is an established MMA star in Canada, but he has had a couple of lackluster performances in the UFC and this is his last chance to prove he really belongs in the best league in the world. This is an incredible opportunity to put the first loss on the record of undefeated, rising star Myles Jury, and Ricci cannot afford to let this chance slip by with uncertainty in the cage. Ricci has the game and chops to defeat Jury, but the question is if Ricci will unleash the tools in his tool box or if the bright lights will freeze him up and he allows Jury to get off first.

At the very least, a win should save his spot in the UFC. An impressive win will announce on no uncertain terms that Mike Ricci has arrived for good.



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