UFC 165: JONES VS. GUSTAFSSON takes place this Saturday, Sept. 21, at the Air Canada Centre in Toronto, Ontario. Headlining the card will be a light heavyweight title bout between reigning champ Jon Jones and number one contender Alexander Gustafsson. Renan Barao will look to defend his interim bantamweight title against former WEC champ Eddie Wineland in the co-headliner.
A few of the ProMMAnow.com staff has come together once again to share their thoughts and predictions on each of the main card bouts. UFC fight odds are provided courtesy of Topbet Sportsbook.
Jon Jones (18-1) vs. Alexander Gustafsson (15-1)
ODDS: Jones -800 vs. Gustafsson +600
JAN GAETJENS: The prefight hype has largely surrounded Gustafsson’s physical comparability to Jones. Anyone who’s seen Roy Nelson step into a cage or Mark Hunt reach up to floor Stefan Struve will tell you that physical comparison is only the tip of the iceberg. Gustafsson has yet to encounter a fighter with the caliber of diverse striking that Jones brings to the Octagon. Despite impressive success against heavy handed strikers like Thiago Silva and Vladimir Matyushenko, the Swede will have a lot of trouble adjusting to the tempo and multi-angled approach Jones takes on his feet. Jones by (T)KO
DENNY HODGE: If you watched the Countdown show, the UFC producers really tried to sell Gustafsson as the man that is big enough, and long enough to give Jon Jones problems. His footwork is solid, and he is a dangerous fighter, but at this point in his career, he isn’t good enough to dethrone Jon Jones. Jones will control the distance, the pace, and the place that this fight takes place at like he always does. He will strike with Gustafsson early, but it will be a takedown and subsequent ground-and-pound mauling that will end the fight. Jones by TKO.
BRIAN FURBY: Jon Jones
KELVIN HUNT: Gustafsson could pose some problems IF Jones decides to strike with him and abort his wrestling…Jones seems to want to beat guys at their own game(Strike with Rua, Machida(for 1 rd),Rampage,) (Wrestled Bader, Sonnen). I think Jones will realize that the easiest path to victory will be to take Gustafsson down and smash him into oblivion….2nd or 3rd round TKO….hell might sub him too.
GARY THOMAS: Jon Jones and Alexander Gustafsson are both tall, have long reach and win fights. Other than that there aren’t many similarities to their methods. Jon Jones will be hard to beat. He has the wrestling, the striking and the submissions to defeat 99.9% of the UFC roster. I don’t see the very tough Gustafsson having much for the champ. Pick – Jon Jones
JACK BRATCHER: If you have bought into the only selling point on this fight — Gustafsson’s height and reach, well, I’m sorry. It will mean next to nothing when he stands across from the UFC’s most creative and dynamic fighter. He’s a danger everywhere… Jones can submit you, out-wrestle you and out-strike you. What are you going to offer him Mr. Gustafsson? Even if you’re limbs are longer, they are slower. Jones has dispatched of many a legend thus far and Gustafsson will not be an issue. Jones via stoppage — could be a submission, could be a knockout… not sure, but he’s going to finish Gustafsson. F’get about it.
Renan Barao (32-1, 1 NC) vs. Eddie Wineland (20-8-1)
ODDS: Barao -600 vs. Wineland +450
JAN GAETJENS: Although he’s a threat on his feet to the vast majority of the bantamweight division, Barao would be wise to take this fight to the canvas and use his jiu jitsu to come away victorious. Barao by submission
DENNY HODGE: I talked to Eddie Wineland last week and he feels that the key to finally beating Barao is by applying constant pressure. This is something Wineland does naturally so he really won’t be changing his game up much to apply this type of game plan. Barao will be tough to pressure, because he is dangerous everywhere, but Wineland will touch him up on the feet with his hands. Barao will hunt for subs on the ground, but Wineland’s wrestling is really good. Barao will have his moments but won’t be able to finish Wineland. I’m going with Wineland to wear down Barao, especially in the later rounds. Wineland by decision.
BRIAN FURBY: Renan Barao
KELVIN HUNT: The most interesting fight on the card. I think Wineland will give Barao a good fight. He’s a big bantamweight…good chin…good striking with power. Ultimately…Barao is the more well rounded fighter….probably wins via decision or submission since Wineland has been susceptible to those in the past.
GARY THOMAS: Lets just call Renan Barao what he is, the real champ. He has the skill set to win the fight wherever it may go. Eddie Wineland always is fun to watch and will be no pushover but you gotta think Barao gets the victory in this one. Pick – Barao
JACK BRATCHER: In a pure boxing match Wineland may take this but this is MMA and Barao will have the ground advantage. Barao will win this, it’s just a question of whether or not he can finish Wineland. I say yes… Barao via submission.
Brendan Schaub (10-3) vs. Matt Mitrione (6-2)
ODDS: Schaub EVEN vs. Mitrione -120
JAN GAETJENS: Ideally Schaub will donate his entire purse from this fight to a relief fund for those of us who paid to suffer through his travesty of a performance at Metamoris II. Schaub by submission
DENNY HODGE: This is a big fight for both guys, and there has been some pretty good trash talk between the two. Schaub has questioned Mitrione’s work, while Schaub is known for his. His submission game has improved, but Mitrione will score when the fight is standing. Mitrione will have to fight off takedown attempts, as Schaub will fight smarter than he has at times standing in the pocket and throwing bombs. Mitrione will touch that chin and put the fight away during a big exchange. Mitrione by TKO.
BRIAN FURBY: Matt Mitrione
KELVIN HUNT: Mitrione’s layoff concerns me a bit…but I think Schaub tries to wrestle F him…Mitrione is athletic enough to get back to his feet….punch meets Schaub’s glass chin….good night….Mitrione via TKO
GARY THOMAS: When Matt Mitrione and Brendan Schaub meet it will be for relevancy in the heavyweight division. Both are 1-2 in their last three. Mitrione may find himself victim to the takedown of Schaub and will have to evade that and keep it standing. If he does he wins. If he doesn’t, he gets decisioned. Pick – Matt Mitrione
JACK BRATCHER: While Brendan Schaub spent time playing football in the AFL, Matt Mitrione played at a higher level and spent time in the NFL playing for the NY Giants and Minnesota Vikings. Schaub has moved his training from Grudge in Colorado to Southern California where he’s been working on his BJJ with the Gracies. Standing, I’m giving the edge to Mitrione… I think he has the better chin. IF Schaub can get him down, he could submit him, but with Mitrione at the Blackzilian camp, Schaub could have a hard time doing that. I like Mitrione’s toughness and power over Schaub and predict he will find Schaub’s chin for the knockout.
Costa Philippou (12-2, 1 NC) vs. Francis Carmont (21-7)
ODDS: Philippou -200 vs. Carmont +170
JAN GAETJENS: Philippou may have actually dodged a major setback by being forced out of his scheduled May meeting with a red-hot Jacare. Carmont is a solid mid-teir opponent against whom Philippou can be measured. If the goatee’d Cypriot impresses in his return to action, he could quickly find himself legitimately back in the top 10 middleweight conversation. Philippou by decision
DENNY HODGE: Carmont is a guy that I’ve been waiting on to really take a big step and start to dominate fights. He has won in lackluster fashion of late, and Philippou will be a tough match up. Carmont will try to get the fight to the mat and impose his will in the clinch, but Philippou will find success defending takedowns and scoring on his feet. In the end Philippou will do enough to earn a decision victory.
BRIAN FURBY: Costa Philippou
KELVIN HUNT: The fight will be ugly..and go to the judges….Philippou wins it…
GARY THOMAS: Carmont has been skating by on decisions as of late and I thought he lost to Lorenz Larkin on my scorecards. Costa Philippou is a top 5 middleweight in my books and will be too much. I see him finishiing this in the 2nd round – Pick Costa Philippou
JACK BRATCHER: Carmont is part of the TriStar crew up in Montreal and is on a nice five-fight undefeated streak since signing with the UFC in 2011. The problem is his last couple wins have been pretty close decisions. Philippou is also on a five-fight run in the UFC — and against tougher competition. His last fight was a TKO win over Tim Boetsch last December. Before that, he took out Riki Fukuda, Court McGee, Jared Hamman and Jorge Rivera. Carmont has some quality wins too, and I think this fight could be pretty close, but ultimately I see Philippou with the decision.
Pat Healy (31-15, 1 NC) vs. Khabib Nurmagomedov (20-0)
ODDS: Healy +180 vs. Nurmagomedov -220
JAN GAETJENS: One of the fastest moving hype trains in the UFC continues to roll, denying Pat Healy his first official win in the organization. Nurmagomedov by decision
DENNY HODGE: Nurmagomedov will be fighting for a title in the near future. His hype train will not get derailed in this one. Healy is never any easy fight for anyone and Nurmagomedov will have to constantly fight off the takedowns and clinch game of Healy. If he can keep his back of the cage and keep distance to land from the outside, he could win by TKO. A more realistic scenario will be that he gets taken down, goes for subs from his back, and wins the stand up exchanges en route to a decision win to make it 5 straight in the UFC. Nurmagomedov by decision.
BRIAN FURBY: Khabib Nurmagomedov
KELVIN HUNT: Might be fight of the night material….Healy is an absolute rabid dog….Nurmagomedov’s ability to take folk down could be the difference in this fight. Healy might have to try to sub Nurmagomedov from his back…probably ain’t happening…Nurmagomedov via decision.
GARY THOMAS: Loved Pat Healy’s UFC debut but I love the youth and tenacity of Khabib. He uses his takedowns with ease and has proven to be solid so far in his UFC run. Healy is coming off suspension and can be dangerous on the feet but I don’t think he can avoid being put on his back time and time again. Pick – Khabib Nurmagomedov.
JACK BRATCHER: “Bam Bam” Healy submitted Jim Miller in his last fight, but that result was overturned to a No Contest due to a positive marijuana test. Nurmagomedov is undefeated at 20-0 for a reason and he is 4-0 inside the UFC Octagon. Healy is a wily veteran with a nice six-fight win streak going (plus the No Contest). If Healy can keep it standing that’s where he’s likely to have the most success, but I see Nurmagomedov using his wrestling and takedowns to grind out the decision.