Check out our full UFC 165 predictions ahead of tomorrow night’s event in Toronto, Canada.
Jon Jones vs. Alexander Gustafsson
A lot’s been made of the fact that Gustafsson matches up well in terms of his size and reach, and it’s certainly an interesting factor to consider, but let’s not forget that while it may take some getting used to for Jones, the same will also apply to his opponent. It would also be foolish to think that his physical gifts are Jones’ only advantage over the opposition he’s faced thus far in his career.
Gustafsson has the better footwork of the two men and uses distance well, but beyond that I believe Jones still holds most of the aces here. For one thing he’s far more versatile and unpredictable with his offense and his creative flair is going to be difficult for the Swede to deal with.
The real key to this fight however could be Jones’ wrestling. Gustafsson’s only loss to date came against Phil Davis who was able to outwrestle him in the clinch and on the mat before finding the submission, and while he leans more heavily towards his striking these days, Jones has first-class takedowns from the clinch, devastating elbows on the mat and poses a threat with submissions.
I’d expect to see Jones engage with him on the feet at first, and it might be relatively close to begin with as he tries to get a handle on Gustafsson’s movement and find his range. As we’ve seen in the past though I expect him to turn up the heat as the fight goes on, then start looking for the takedowns and emerge with a TKO stoppage via ground and pound in the third round.
Jon Jones to win by TKO in Rd3.
Renan Barão vs. Eddie Wineland
Barao’s looked excellent so far in his UFC career and while Wineland is a good fighter I think he’s going to struggle to get the better of the interim champ.
Wineland’s main strength is his striking and he’s got the power to hurt Barao if he can find a home for his punches. The same could be said in return about Barao though and the Brazilian also has a greater arsenal of strikes and is more technical and clinical with his output.
On the ground Barao’s submission prowess will also be a major worry for Wineland who’s defense has improved over the years, but will struggle to deny him if caught in a compromising position.
Wineland has good takedown defense and will do his utmost to keep this fight standing, but even if he succeeds I still see Barao besting him on the feet. There’s a good chance this one goes to the championship rounds and given that amount of time to work with I like his chances of getting Wineland down and tapping him.
Renan Barao to win by submission in Rd4.
Brendan Schaub vs. Matt Mitrione
In this battle of the TUF 10 heavyweights I’d say that Schaub is the more well-rounded fighter skill-wise, but his chin has proven to be his achilles heel and that’s a real concern against Mitrione who’s bigger, stronger and hit’s harder.
Schaub would be wise to look for the clinch and takedowns early and often here as he did in his last Octagon outing as he has reasonably decent wrestling and will hold a distinct advantage over Mitrione there.
Still, I can’t shake the thought of those back-to-back KO’s Schaub suffered not so long ago and that’s why, somewhat cautiously, I’m going to pick Mitrione to find enough opportunities to strike to land something meaningful and get the KO win here.
Matt Mitrione to win by KO in Rd2.
Costa Philippou vs. Francis Carmont
Philippou and Carmont have both been racking up the wins in good style for some time now in the UFC so it’s going to be interesting to see who’s going to come out on top and continue their winning streak.
To tell the truth I’ve not been overly impressed with Carmont so far. He’s physically impressive and uses his size and strength to his advantage in the clinch and on the mat, but there’s something missing from his game in terms of aggression and that killer instinct which would give him the impression of being a dangerous fighter to come up against.
On the other hand Philippou is a hardy customer with very good boxing, excellent takedown defense and the kind of aggressive output that his opponent lacks. I like him to stuff the majority of Carmont’s takedown attempts and close the distance effectively to land punches and nullify Carmont’s kicks on the feet, eventually claiming a late TKO stoppage.
Costa Philippou to win by TKO in Rd3.
Pat Healy vs. Khabib Nurmagomedov
This should be an entertaining encounter between two exceptionally tough, relentless lightweight fighters.
Healy has a habit of wearing down opponents with his work rate, durability and grappling, but in Nurmagodedov he faces somebody who can match him, and even outdo him in at least some of those regards as well as threaten him in other areas.
Nurmagomedov has shown himself to be extremely dominant with his bone-crunching takedowns thus far – something that perhaps he’ll struggle to do to quite the same degree against Healy, but I expect him at the very least to be able to hold his own in that regard while also possessing the better striking and offering a submission threat.
Either way it goes I think we’re headed to a decision here, but I favor Nurmagomedov to edge it.
Khabib Nurmagomedov to win by decision.
Prelims: (Predicted winners in bold)
Mike Ricci Vs. Myles Jury
Ivan Menjivar Vs. Wilson Reis
Chris Clements vs. Stephen Thompson
Mitch Gagnon vs. Dustin Kimura
John Makdessi vs. Renee Forte
Michel Prazeres vs. Jesse Ronson
Roland Delorme vs. Alex Caceres
Nandor Guelmino vs. Daniel Omielanczuk