UFC 165 Jon Jones vs. Alexander Gustafsson: Observer Picks & Mini Preview

UFC Jon Jones vs. Alexander Gustafsson

By Josh Nason

For the first time since UFC 152 (coincidentally in Toronto), a UFC PPV will feature two title defense on the same card, one considerable more high-profile than the other. One of the best fighters in the world returns to action Saturday night looking to make history and put Tito Ortiz in the rear view mirror.

It's time for UFC 165.

- Dave Meltzer (70-31 -- .693): Wrestling Observer founder & writer

Todd Martin (72-29 -- .712): Weekly FFD guest | LA Times | Sherdog

Mike Sempervive (62-39 -- .613): Wrestling Observer Live | Big Audio Nightmare

Mike Sawyer (68-33 -- .673): ToughTalkMMA.com, co-host of the reunited Tough Talk!

- Josh Nason (72-29 -- .712): Wrestling Observer web editor & social media guy

Oliver Copp (65-36 -- .643) of combat sports insider fame, co-host of the reunited Tough Talk!


205-pound champion Jon Jones (18-1) vs. Alexander Gustafsson (15-1)

The big story: the 26-year-old Jones is looking for the UFC light heavyweight record for title defenses (six) against someone who is nearly his same size (height and reach are promotional tactics!). Essentially undefeated, this is Jones second fight of the calendar year and third fight of the last 12 months.

The 26-year-old Gustafsson has won his last six, last defeating 'Shogun' Rua by unanimous decision in December. While he's 7-1 in his UFC career, Rua is really the only major name he's beaten. After finishing seven straight opponents, the Swede has gone the distance in his last two.

Jones: Nason, Copp, Sawyer, Martin, Meltzer, Sempervive

Interim 135-pound champion Renan Barao (30-1-0-1) vs. Eddie Wineland (20-8-1)

If there was one champion in the UFC that is universally received with tepidness, it's Barao. He's unbeaten IN HIS LAST 32 FIGHTS, yet no one talks about him with any reverence. Since moving from the WEC, he's a flawless 5-0 and last was seen submitting Michael McDonald in February. The problem? It was on Fuel, so a relatively small audience saw it.

In Wineland, he fights a guy that might be a bit over his head, but whatever. "Fast Eddie" is coming off consecutive wins over Scott Jorgensen and Brad Pickett after consecutive losses to Urijah Faber and Joseph Benavidez in his first two UFC tilts. The fight was originally scheduled for June, but was delayed due to a Barao injury. He's been on the shelf for nearly 10 months, but he also KO'd Jorgensen after nearly a year off, so ring rust doesn't seem to be an issue.

Barao: Nason, Copp, Sawyer, Martin, Meltzer, Sempervive

Matt Mitrione (6-2) vs. Matt Schaub (9-3)

In a battle of former TUF 10 teammates, Schaub vs. Mitrione could be really fun or really dull. After consecutive first round KO losses to 'Big Nog' Nogueira and Ben Rothwell, Schaub rebounded with a unanimous decision win over Lavar Johnson in February. Similarly, Mitrione scored a 19 second KO win over Phil De Fries in April after consecutive losses to Cheick Kongo and Roy Nelson. Both guys have done their job in building up the fight (check out the Countdown segment), so we'll see if they can back it up.

Mitrione: Nason, Copp, Sawyer, Martin
Schaub: Meltzer, Sempervive

Costa Philippou (12-2-0-1) vs. Francis Carmont (21-7)

Phillipou has quietly put together a five fight winning streak over the last two years, last defeating Tim Boetsch by 3rd round TKO in December. He was originally slated to fight Jacare Souza in May, but had to pull out due to a cut suffered in training. He takes on the equally quiet Carmont, who is on a 10-fight win streak over the last five years. He's 5-0 in his UFC tenure, fighting the lower tier of the division. He last beat Lorenz Larkin by unanimous decision in April.

Philippou: Nason, Copp, Sawyer, Martin, Meltzer, Sempervive

Pat Healy (29-16-0-1) vs. Khabib Nurmagomedov (20-0)

Unfortunately, Healy is well known for giving six figures worth of bonus money back to the UFC after his great April submission performance over Jim Miller was overturned due to a positive marijuana test. To that point, he had won six in a row. He draws a tough opponent in the undefeated Nurmagomedov, a perfect 4-0 over two years in the UFC.

Nurmagomedov: Nason, Copp, Sawyer, Martin, Meltzer, Sempervive

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