The main event was considered by fans to be one of the best fights to ever occur in the UFC’s 205-lbs division.
Jon Jones had a daunting task set ahead of him on Saturday night, with challenger Alexander Gustafsson being labelled as “the perfect foe” for the Light Heavyweight champ. And what a fight it turned out to be.
The Swede duly delivered perhaps the best fight of his career, showcasing his Boxing credentials and massive heart. He chipped in a surprise or two by landing takedowns on Jones, who in turn saw more than a dozen takedown attempts shrugged off by the Swede.
That, however, wasn’t enough to garner a victory. It was Jones who got his hand raised in the end, in what was a really close decision call. Jones’ immaculate kicks, elbows, aggression and control could have influenced the judges’ decision, but on the flip side, there were those who felt the challenger should have walked away with the strap instead.
The co-main event for the interim Bantamweight championship sparked some fireworks as well. Nova Uniao’s Renan Barao scored a spectacular highlight-reel spinning back kick knockout over former WEC champ, Eddie Wineland. Wineland, though, was unfazed by all the hype and praise surrounding Barao, as he dished in a good display in the first frame. The second round, however, showed a totally different outcome. Barao delivered a spinning back kick that wasn’t telegraphed whatsoever, catching fans and of course, his opponent by surprise.
Having wiped out almost the entire 135-lbs division, there’s presumably only one sensible opponent left for the Brazilian.
It’s that time again where MMASucka.com takes a seat on the matchmaker’s armchair. Let us know your thoughts and opinions on the match-ups that we have come up with in the comments section below.
Let’s get started!
The Russian starlet had an impressive outing against former Strikeforce vet Pat Healy in this past Saturday’s UFC 165, dominating all three rounds en route to a decisive Unanimous Decision victory. Still unbeaten in his MMA career, and boasting an impressive record of 21-0, few can argue that the 25-year-old will be a future champion in the stacked 155-lbs division. Nurmagomedov possess great strength in wrestling and control, as evident in the display against a grizzled veteran like Healy. It’s perhaps time for the Russian to get a shot at a top ten opponent and in my humble opinion, TJ Grant (21-5) would be a great test and step-up in competition. The Canadian is on a five-fight winning streak with his latest win coming by way of TKO against Gray Maynard.
Carmont (22-7) was an underdog heading into his UFC 165 185-lbs tilt with Costa Philippou. But the Frenchman executed a well-laid game plan, exposing his opponent’s grappling weakness. Philippou did defend takedowns really well against his previous opponents but against Carmont, well, he struggled. Carmont knew that he would have probably come out second best if it were a striking battle, so he did the obvious. He turned it into a grappling exchange and left the octagon with a comfortable Unanimous Decision win.
The 31-year-old’s winning streak continues and the question beckons as to who is next for the Frenchman. Brad Tavares (11-1) could be another stern test for Carmont, as he continues to climb up the Middleweight rankings. Tavares has quietly amassed victories in his last four outings, so a match-up between both these fighters could be pivotal in determining a future no.1 contender.
*Brendan Schaub vs. Stipe Miočić
While the spotlight was on the last two fights of the card, Brendan “The Hybrid” Schaub (10-3) made a statement of his own. People started doubting in his ability when he was on the receiving end of back-to-back defeats against “Minotauro” Nogueira and Ben Rothwell, but the American has since catapulted on two consecutive victories.
One of which came on Saturday night’s UFC 165 PPV where he submitted Matt Mitrione in the first round. And while the 30-year-old continues to gain momentum in the Heavyweight division, a match-up with rising contender Stipe Miočić (10-1) could be a fruitful one. The latter, of course, is coming off a huge win over Roy Nelson in June.
Schaub vs. Miočić is a pretty good match-up to make, given the all-round attributes that both athletes posses. Could this match-up materialize in the near future? Yes, I would certainly say so.
Hands down, Renan Barão (31-1, 1 NC) is one of the best pound-for-pound fighters competing in the UFC. At just 26, the Brazilian has over 30 victories to his credit with only a single defeat. Records don’t necessarily describe how good a fighter is, but having gone 8-0 in the UFC with dominant performances time-and-time again over top-tier competition, you can’t disregard the quality that Barão brings to the 135-lbs division.
The next sensible step would be for Barão to unify the Bantamweight straps by facing the current champ, Dominick Cruz (19-1). Cruz has been on an injury lay-off for a while now, but as soon as the champ is cleared to compete, he could have Barao in his sights.
Both fighters have been terrific in this weigh class and I can’t see why this bout won’t come together in the coming months. Fans have certainly been itching to see this fight and I say why not since this is a title tilt that may well have its own chapter in the history books.
Glover Teixeira (22-2) was originally my pick to be the next no.1 contender for Jon Jones’ (19-1) 205-lbs throne but following the performance of Alexander Gustafsson 15-2) this past Saturday night, the Swede deserved a rematch. He came to closest to beating the champ, and could have so easily edged a decision on another day.
Gustafsson had Jones in some difficult predicaments, but was unable to finish the durable champ. Likewise could be said for Jones, who delivered lots of head kicks and elbows. If it weren’t for the chin and heart of the challenger, however, Jones could have taken home a stoppage victory.
However you see it, controversies aside, this match-up has to happen again, and let’s hope there’ll be a more clear-cut winner this time around.