This Saturday Jon ones steps into the Octagon to defend his light heavyweight title for the 6th time. Jones is currently tied for most title defenses with Tito Ortiz; should he win on Saturday he will officially be the most successful LHW champion in UFC history. Trying to prevent that from happening is the Swede Alexander Gustafsson. Has he got what it takes?
On Saturday night Renan Barao also steps into the Octagon to defend his (interim) title in the 135 pound division. Double title fight cards always carry a lot of hype, lets hope this one delivers.
Jon Jones vs. Alexander Gustafsson
Jon Jones is most successful LHW fighter of all time. His current run has broken all sorts of records. Ever since he won the title and quickly cleared out all credible contenders, people have looked down the LHW roster for somebody, anybody who might challenge him in the future. Alexander Gustafsson is a name that has come up repeatedly. But to be honest, I didn’t buy it then and I don’t buy it now.
Gustafsson is a solid fighter, he is very tall and uses range well. The official tale of the tape will claim an 8” reach advantage for Jones but I’m sure that’s an error. Looking at them side by side at the press conferences, they are pretty close. Most likely, Gustafsson never corrected it as it was to his advantage. But size is only part of the battle, and while Alaxander has come on leaps and bounds in the last 2 years, he isn’t close to the incredibly well rounded skills of Jones. Jones will dictate the range, the position and the pace. He’ll wear him down with strikes in the first, and finish with a submission in the second.
Jones by Submission
It’s a real shame that Dominic Cruz has had such a long layoff with injury. As fans we miss out on seeing the 135lb title truly contested, but the biggest loser in this situation, in my eyes, is Renan Barao. This weekend he defends his title yet again, and yet again, he is stuck with the “interim” label. Renan Barao is a hugely talented fighter, one of the best strikers in the UFC with a solid BJJ game and currently riding a 30 fights win streak. Which is the 3rd longest streak in MMA history, any where.
Eddie is a top quality fighter, deserving to be counted as part of the top 5 BWs in the world. He simply isn’t the top UFC fighter at 135. While he has good striking, and good wrestling, Renan Barao is simply better than him in both aspects. 4 of Wineland’s 8 losses have came from submissions. And if this one goes to the mat, I’d expect Renan to hunt for another submission win.
Renan Barao by Submission
A lot of people are talking about how this will be a “fun” HW fight. But I don’t see it. Both guys have proven that they aren’t good enough to make a run at the title. Each has gotten a few impressive (some might call it lucky) knockouts, but overall both have shown that they don’t have the conditioning of an elite heavyweight. I don’t really care for this fight, and I don’t think that it proves or sets up anything in the heavyweight division. There’s not much separating these two. Mitrione is the better fighter whilst Schaub is the better athlete, lacking in pure fighting skills. I think Mitrione should win, but he needs to get a TKO in the first 7 or 8 minutes. Neither has shown that they can keep the pace up, so if it goes to the third its anyones fight.
Mitrione by KO
This is a match up I really like. Both guys are climbing the ranks and both are unbeaten recently. Philippou is on a 5 fight streak and Carmount an impressive 10 fight streak. Costa Philippou has probably fought the higher standard of opponent, and as such he is the favorite going into this one. But you can only beat who they put in front of you and I think that Carmont’s chances of winning are closer than the odds suggest. He isn’t a big underdog, 13/8 currently, but I have this one close to a 50/50 pick’em. So based on that I think Carmont is value here. A longer bet, but still worth a shot, is Carmont by decision at 3/1.
Carmont by Decision
This card is really all about win streaks. Healy has won his last 8 fights, although his most recent win was overturned due to testing positive for Marijuana. But that’s an athletic commission technicality, its not relevant to the better fighter and our bets here. Khabib is undefeated at 20-0. And come Saturday night I think he’ll make it 21.
Healy is a top fighter, but in recent fights Khabib has impressed me a lot. His judo and Sambo background gives him an explosive and unorthodox takedown style that gives everyone trouble. He has set records in the Octagon for successful takedowns. And those high trajectory suplexes hurt. Healy won’t make it easy for him, and is capable of pulling out a win so Khabib will need to keep his guard up. This could be an exciting 15 minutes.
Khabib Nurmagomedov by decision
This is a real step up or step out fight for Ricci. Including the TUF finale, he has gone 1-1 in the UFC. He needs to keep a positive record to stay around. And UFC matchmaker Joe Silva hasn’t made it easy for him. TUF Live cast member, Myles Jury is 12-0 in pro fights, 10 of which came in first round. He’ll be looking to finish here, which stylistically is not good for Ricci whose slow pace favours grinding out wins. Jury will want to prove he’s here to stay and put Ricci away.
Jury by TKO
The UFC has a habit of making it tough for hyped fighters from other promotions. Wilson Reis has fought in Belator and more recently in Cage Warriors and makes his UFC debut against Menjivar, a experienced UFC batamweight. Menjivar won’t be challenging Cruz or Barao any time soon but in the opening minutes of his fight verses Faber he proved he can put even the divisions top fighters in dangerous spots. Reis could have the best of it in terms of grappling but Menjivar will be able to keepthis one striking if he wishes. Reis’ record makes him looks like he is worth a punt as an underdog but he simply hasn’t fought at the same consistent level as Menjivar.
Menjivar by TKO
Thompson scored a knock out of the night bonus on his debut to great fanfare. Immediately forums everywhere went into meltdown proclaiming him as the best striker in MMA. That didn’t last too long as a unanimous lose to Mike Brown ended the hype. Since then he racked up a solid 15 minute win and proved he’s got talent, but maybe not quite the game changer he was made out to be. Chris Clements is by no means out of his depth here, but I feel he is lacking stand out ability in any one department. I expect Thompson to win.
Thompson by KO