UFC 165: Jones vs. Gustafsson – Predictions


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UFC 165 goes down this coming Wednesday on September 21st at the Air Canada Centre in Toronto, Ontario, Canada, featuring a main event of Jon Jones defending his light heavyweight title against Alexander Gustafsson and a co-main event that will see Renan Barao defend his interim bantamweight title against Eddie Wineland. Here are our MMAInsider.net staff picks.  Feel free to share your picks in the comments!

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Light Heavyweight Title Bout – Jon Jones (c) (18-1) vs Alexander Gustafsson (16-1)

DR: If you’ve followed my predictions on here then you’ll know this is often where I’ll look for a way the underdog can win and then make some wild claim as to why it’ll happen. However, in this one I just can’t see it. Gustafsson will present problems that Jones has never faced before, but only to a certain degree, the champion will only have a few inches in reach advantage with Gustafsson recently announcing his reach is actually 81 inches, compared to Jones’ 84.5 “. So while the difference in reach is less than Jones has usually faced, it’s still an advantage to the champion and then when you add in creativity, wrestling and jiu jitsu, I’d say Jones has the edge in every department. We’ve never seen Gustafsson in trouble before, he lost to Phil Davis, but was never hurt, and that’s really the only question mark I have that makes this decision even slightly difficult. There is the possibility that Gustaffson can take punishment like no other man, avoid the takedowns, after showing tremendous improvement following his training with the aforementioned Davis, and then manage to land some damaging shots of his own. However, there are just to many if’s and but’s in that scenario so as Chris says, Jones probably takes it anyway he wants. – Jones via (T)KO

CG: Jon Jones is quite possibly the greatest light heavyweight fighter to ever grace the world renowned UFC Octagon.  Outside of his DQ loss to Matt Hamill at The Ultimate Fighter 10 Finale due to illegal strikes (12 to 6 elbows) he is a perfect 18-0 in his mixed martial arts career.  It’s not as though he has been fighting less then stellar competition since becoming the UFC Light Heavyweight Champion either.  He has defended his belt a record tying five times over fighters such as Rampage Jackson, Lyoto Machida, Rashad Evans, Vitor Belfort, and most recently Chael Sonnen.  Four of those five wins have come via stoppage, with only his former teammate Rashad Evans taking him the distance during that time.  A win over Gustafsson on Saturday night will see him set a new record for UFC Light Heavyweight Championship title defenses, breaking the one Tito Ortiz set at UFC 40 back in 2003.  Gustafsson is a gifted fighter himself, make no mistake in that regard, but he hasn’t been able to show the same tactical dominance when he steps in the cage against truly elite fighters.  When we take a look at their fights against the same competition, of which there are three, Matt Hamill, Vladimir Matyushenko, and Shogun Rua you’ll notice similar outcomes.  Both men were on their way to defeating Hamill via technical knockout until Jones landed the illegal elbows, both men hold first round technical knockouts over Matyushenko, but when you take that all important step up the competition ladder we see the slight, but so very important, difference.  Where Jones was able to soundly defeat Rua via technical knockout, on short notice as a late replacement, Gustafsson took a three round decision.  In my opinion this will be the difference maker in this bout.  Add to that the fact Jones has been able to utilize his reach more effectively over his career and I see this fight ending with the current champ breaking Mr. Ortiz’s record for UFC Light Heavyweight Championship title defenses.  – Jones via (T)KO

PB: In all honesty I don’t see how Gustafsson can win this fight. He’s slightly bigger and that’s really his only advantage. Jones holds significant advantages in stand up, wrestling, submission grappling, and overall athleticism. I think the UFC rushed this fight because of Gustafsson’s great record and his win over a Mauricio Rua, who isn’t the fighter he used to be. This fight really just feels a bit rushed and Gustafsson is going to be the fighter that pays for his early title shot. Jones via (T)KO

CP:  You’ve seen Jon Jones fight yes?  You haven’t?  Okay, click over to youtube and watch a couple of highlight videos, I’ll wait…  Done?  Good. – Jones via whatever he feels like.

JS: The main event is very similar to the co main event, potential to be very exciting but limited in the ways for the challenger to emerge victorious. Gustafsson has to use his boxing to get on the inside and keep Jones uncomfortable. I do believe he has a better chance of the upset than most, but again I don’t believe he can keep it in his domain long enough. Jones’s run will continue because he will use his throws and impose his wrestling game to wear the The Mauler down. Jones will have a scare but will have a proper game plan and use his superior Greco Roman wrestling to overpower Alex’s freestyle defense and finish Gustafsson. – Jones via Submission

MMAInsider.net picks Jon Jones 5-0

Interim Bantamweight Title Bout – Renan Barão (ic) (30-1 (1nc)) vs Eddie Wineland (20-8-1)

DR: Eddie Wineland is a well-rounded fighter who likes to favour the standup. Renan Barao on the other hand is an expert in every department who likes to favour whatever the bloody hell he chooses. This is likely to be a good scrap with Wineland being a game fighter who will bring it during the bout, but to sum it up I’m more confident of Barao coming out with a victory on the night than I am with Jon Jones coming out with the win, which pretty much tells its own story. I expect Barao to hurt Wineland standing, slowly wearing him down, before locking up a choke for the submission victory. – Barao via Submission

CG: They say you learn more from a loss when compared with a win.  So what exactly did Renan Barao learn in his debut loss?  Whatever it was every other fighter on the planet should be asking him to share that wisdom with them.  Since losing that first bout he has never tasted defeat again racking up an almost unbelievable 30-0 with 1 NC record.  Say what you will about his early competition but a streak like that isn’t something I can overlook.  Since signing with Zuffa he is 7-0 combined (WEC and UFC) with four submission wins to his credit, he has been facing increasingly tougher competition, and, the frightening thing, looking better with each passing bout.  He captured the Interim UFC Bantamweight Championship at UFC 149 with his win over the always dangerous Urijah Faber, and has defended it against Michael McDonald with a Submission of the Night performance.  Eddie Wineland was the first ever World Extreme Cagefighting Bantamweight Champion, but he was never able to log a successful defense of that belt.  He ended his WEC tenure with a respectable 5-2 record, and entered the UFC riding high on back to back Knockout of the Night performances.  He wasn’t able to transfer those wins into his early UFC career as he went 0-2 for the promotion over his first two fights, but has since been able to even his record out with them at 2-2 after winning his last two bouts against Scott Jorgenson and Brad Pickett.  Wineland’s career has been plagued with ups and downs from the very beginning.  He was able to put together a nice nine fight winning streak from 2005 to 2007, and, as mentioned before, ended his time with the WEC riding a four fight winning streak, but he has never been able to put together multiple wins against the truly elite of the bantamweight division.  I just don’t see him being able to do that against Barao, and I see the interim champ walking away with his second title defense, and setting up a date with Dominick Cruz to unify these belts in early 2014.  – Barao via (T)KO

PB: I feel like this fight is another fight that is pretty far in favor of one man over the other. I really think Barao is the more talented talented fighter in almost all the areas. Wineland is a grinder with tremendous heart and a solid win streak to his name but he doesn’t really have the tools to win this fight. Barao via (T)KO

CP: Even before picking up the Interum championship, Renan Barao has been on a continuous tear through the Bantamweight division.  The same can’t be said for Wineland.  In the upper echelons of competition Wineland has lost decisions to the likes of Urijah Faber, who Renan Barao didn’t even slow down for, and Joseph Benavidez.  From his last fight, I don’t see Wineland having improved enough in nine months to be able to win against the champ. – Barao by Decision.

JS: This is a fight that Eddie Wineland has one chance to win. His hands are his calling card and what brought him this far so he needs to have faith in them, it’s the one place I feel he may be even in skill with Barao. This presented one problem however, it would have to stay in Wineland’s world to end well, I don’t have faith in his ability to keep it there. Barao’s BJJ has fight changing ability and I believe he can certainly use his top game to wear wineland down over the course of the title fight. Barao will find an opening and seize his opportunity before the championship rounds. – Barao by Submission

MMAInsider.net picks Renan Barao 5-0

Heavyweight Bout – Matt Mitrione (6-2) vs Brendan Schaub (9-3)

DR: So it’s the battle of the former football players and TUF 10 teammates. This is quite a tough one to predict, evident by the pre-fight odds which have them almost even, as it’s probably Mitrione who hits a little harder and can take a bit more punishment, where as Schaub should be slightly lighter on his feet, as well as having a little more tools to his game than Mitrione. I believe Mitrione is good enough to stay off his back though in this one and as Chuck has said, the weakness in Shaub’s game seems to be his chin, whether that’s just due to the nature of the heavyweight divsion is hard to say, but I’m going with Mitrione in this one to force a stoppage. – Mitrione via (T)KO

CG: All three of Schaub’s losses have come via devastating first round knockouts, and he has very much adapted his game to protect his chin at this point as shown in his lackluster win over Lavar Johnson.  Should he be able to put Mitrione on his back early he could use his top control to grind out a decision win, but I’m not convinced he’ll be able to get that job done.  While Mitrione isn’t the highest level of competition Schaub has faced I think he possesses the tools to get the job done here.  Expect Schaub to shoot early and Mitrione to stuff his attempts, and once Mitrione is able to put something together on the feet it will only be a matter of time.  – Mitrione via (T)KO

PB: This fight is pretty close on paper and I think it’ll be even closer in the octagon. Both guys have faults, Mitrione isn’t the most technical fighter but makes up for it in brute strength and determination, Schaub doesn’t have a great chin, but is ahead in athleticism and technical skills. I think Schaub will be able to use his quickness to keep himself out of the bombing range from Mitrione’s hands to win a close fight. Schaub via Decision

CP: This fight is going one of two ways.  The first starts with Schaub getting an early takedown each round and grinding out a decision.  The second, and the one I see happening, is Mitrione preventing takedowns from Schaub and clobbering him with his striking.  Schaub has been working more of a ground game as of late, mainly due to his knockout losses.  Mitrione knows this and should be planning for it. – Mitrione via (T)KO

JS: Two former TUF former heavyweight competitiors square off here, and this has been a long time coming. The bad blood has added to the hype and the matchup and to be perfectly honest this is the fight I have the most trouble calling. (Full disclosure I will be attending UFC 165 live and in person). I see Schaub with a slight speed advantage that will be counteracted by Mitrione’s footwork, unless Brendan can force this to hit the mat, the man with the strongest chin will win. Bad news for The Hybrid. – Mitrione via (T)KO

MMAInsider.net picks Matt Mitrione 4-1

Middleweight Bout – Constantinos Philippou (12-2 (1nc)) vs Francis Carmont (21-7)

DR: I’m a big fan of Costa Philippou who has shown in recent fights that he’s a dangerous striker and one to watch out for in the middleweight division. He’d already beaten a host of high level fighters, who’d likely be ranked 11-20 if such rankings existed in the UFC, before following that up with a TKO finish over the ever-tough top ten contender Tim Boetsch. It does slighty worry me, as Chuck mentioned, that he’s now left Team Serra-Longo, who have been on a roll lately, but he obviously had his reasons and perhaps he’s right about the change being what he needed to advance his career to the next level. Francis Carmont has been almost as impressive during his UFC run, going undefeated, although he hasn’t faced the competition quite to the standard that Philippou has faced and has also come out with a few fortunate decisions. While he possesses a strong wrestling game which is the type of style you’d think would fair best against a dangerous striker like Philippou, I’m not sure he has all of the tools at his disposal to hang with Philippou on his feet, despite having a sizeable reach advantage. I’m finding this bout incredibly tough to predict but I’m just about leaning towards Philippou in this one to put an end to Carmont’s fortune with the judges. – Philippou via Decision

CG: Costa Philippou enters this fight on the strength of a five fight winning streak with his most recent win being the most impressive to date, as he was able to secure a third round technical knockout over a Top 10 opponent in Tim Boetsch.  That win snapped Boetsch’s four fight win streak, and vaulted Philippou up the rankings.  There are a couple things to be concerned about when it comes to Costa in this fight, 1) his current layoff just shy of nine months (the longest of his career), and 2) his recent camp change as he left Team Serra/Longo to join the Bellmore Kickboxing Academy.  He would be an easy pick for me should it not be for those two important issues.  Francis Carmont enters the night riding his own impressive winning streak of ten straight bouts, including five in the UFC.  His last couple fights have been razor close with his most recent having received a fair amount of controversy, and having many scoring the fight for his opponent.  Coming from Faris Zahabi’s famed Team Tri-Star Gym there’s no mistake that Carmont shows up to each fight in top shape, and with a formidable game plan, his lone critique would be how close his recent fights have been.  On the feet this one is all Costa, but should Carmont be able to secure a take down this fight sways to his corner.  However, I find myself leaning to Philippou to take this one in a closely contested striking battle. – Phillipou via Decision

PB: This fight is another match up of strength versus athleticism. Philippou brings an insane amount of strength to a fight and can shut down a fighter with one punch. Carmont, on the other hand, brings athleticism that rivals almost anyone in the sport along with a solid all around game. Philippou is ranked higher in the division but that doesn’t always mean that he’s the better fighter. I think Carmont will use his athleticism to tire out Philippou and win a decision fight. Carmont via Decision

CP: I have to agree with Paul on this one.  First round will be the most dangerous one as Philippou can end this in one punch, but Carmont should know that and plan for it.  This fight should be another three rounder where Carmont takes rounds two and three, if not all of them. – Carmont via Decision

JS: I’ll be the first to admit Carmont is very talented but he has been pre programmed by Tristar, one of the greatest gyms in the world. He possesses a robot like effiency that elimanates risk and makes him a winner. Costa Philippou is the exact opposite, he has made a career of outworking and outlasting very durable UFC opponents and he has the power to capitalize on small mistakes by his opponents. I see Costa dragging this techincal striking match into a brawl and the pressure will cause a fight ending error by the Canadian. –Philippou via (T)KO

MMAInsider.net picks Costa Philippou 3-2

Lightweight Bout – Khabib Nurmagomedov (20-0) vs Pat Healy (29-16 (1nc))

DR: While the main and co-main of this card seem relatively simple to predict, the other three certainly are not. As Chuck mentions, Nurmagomedov is an undefeated phenom with bags of potential, while Healy is a veteran who has seen and done it all in MMA. Before I really sat down and thought about this one I was strongly leaning towards Nurmagomedov, but when I think back to the beating Healy put down on the gritty Jim Miller it has me second guessing myself. This could be the fight when the tough veteran brings the promising youngster back down to earth, with Healy likely being the best fighter that Nurmagomedov has ever faced. However, Nurmagomedov’s undefeated streak is likely to see him come into the bout with a lot of confidence and if he can get on top early in the fight and keep a high pace, Healy may be struggling to put any doubts in the young Russian’s mind. While Jim Miller is a tough fighter and an excellent ground fighter, perhaps he doesn’t have the pure takedown ability of the sambo expert Nurmagomedov, who is likely to be the one who dictates where this fight takes place and that could well be the deciding factor in this one. – Nurmagomedov via Decision

CG: One is an undefeated phenom, and the other a battle tested veteran.  This fight sees the gritty Pat Healy look to end the perfect record of the Russian contender.  Coming off what should have been his first UFC win, Healy tested positive for marijuana overturning his Submission of the Night win over Jim Miller to a no contest, Healy will now be looking to actually secure his first win for the promotion.  A vet of close to fifty MMA fights Healy is a tough out for any fighter, and was able to become the first fighter to defeat Top 5 lightweight Jim Miller via submission.  Which is no small feat considering some of the guys Miller has fought.  Nurmagomedov is finding himself closing in on a #1 contender fight should he be able to keep winning, and impressively.  He is currently 4-0 in the UFC with two of those wins being via stoppage, and over some tough opponents in Gleison Tibau, Thiago Tavares, and Abel Trujillo.  I suspect the Russian will be able to continue his ascent up the lightweight rankings and setup a date with a Top 5 opponent of his own, but it’s not going to come easily in this one. – Nurmagomedov via Decision

PB: Once again a match up between two fighters that are polar opposites. Healy brings a bully type wrestling game that just wears opponents down and ultimately wins a lot of decisions or slips in a submission. Nurmagomedov is a solid overall fighter that has the skills to end the fight standing or on the ground and this fight will show whether or not he’s ready for the big time in the lightweight division. I think the younger Nurmagomedov will slip by in a close fight. Nurmagomedov via Decision

CP: His last fight out Nurmagomedov looked great.  Sure he  missed his weight cut, but he out-wrestled his opponent through three rounds.  Unfortunately, I don’t see that kind of game working on Healy.  Watch for Healy to get the pace of the Nurmagomedov early and then dominate the fight through three rounds. – Healy via Decision

JS: I fully expect this one to be a grind for 3 rounds and honestly feel this this is the perfect of the Russian’s skills to see if he can catapult himself into the top ten. Healy brings a vateran savvy and remarkable resolve with him to every matchup and this will be no different. Healy will have many tricks up his sleeve to survive the duration but I’ll say the zero stays intact and the winner gets either Sanchez or Melendez for their next bout at 155. –Nurmagomedov via Decision

MMAInsider.net picks Khabib Nurmagomedov 4-1

Lightweight Bout – Mike Ricci (8-3) vs Myles Jury (12-0)

DR: Jury via (T)KO

CG: Ricci via Decision

PB: This fight is a battle between two huge prospects in the lightweight division. Jury has been a hot prospect for a long time and stands with an undefeated record at 12-0. Ricci hit the radar a bit more recently but hasn’t had the best stretch of luck lately with a 3-3 record in his last six fights. Both fighters train at world class facilities with Ricci at Tristar and Jury training with Alliance MMA. I think overall Jury is slightly ahead in skills and puts a lot of effort to finish fighters. Ricci has been slightly underwhelming lately. Jury via (T)KO

CP: Ricci via Decision

JS: Ricci via Decision

MMAInsider.net picks Mike Ricci 3-2

Bantamweight Bout – Ivan Menjivar (25-10) vs. Wilson Reis (16-4)

DR: Menjivar via Decision

CG: Menjivar via Decision

PB: Menjivar via Decision

CP: Menjivar via Decision

JS: Menjivar via (T)KO

MMAInsider.net picks Ivan Menjivar 5-0

Welterweight Bout – Chris Clements (11-4 (1nc)) vs Stephen Thompson (7-1)

DR: Thompson via Decision

CG: Thompson via (T)KO

PB: Thompson via Decision

CP: Thompson via Decision

JS: Thompson via (T)KO

MMAInsider.net picks Stephen Thompson 5-0

Bantamweight Bout – Mitch Gagnon (9-2) vs Dustin Kimura (10-0)

DR: Kimura via Submission

CG: Kimura via Submission

PB: Kimura via Submission

CP: Kimura via Submission

JS: Kimura via Submission

MMAInsider.net picks Dustin Kimura 5-0

Lightweight Bout – John Makdessi (11-2) vs Renee Forte (8-2)

DR: Forte via Decision

CG: Makdessi via Decision

PB: Makdessi via Decision

CP: Makdessi via Decision

JS: Makdessi via Decision

MMAInsider.net picks John Makdessi 4-1

Lightweight Bout –  Jesse Ronson (13-2) vs Michel Prazeres (16-1)

DR: Ronson via Decision

CG: Ronson via (T)KO

PB: Prazeres via Decision

CP: Ronson via Decision

JS: Prazeres via Decision

MMAInsider.net picks Jesse Ronson 3-2

Bantamweight Bout – Roland Delorme (9-1 (1nc)) vs Alex Caceres (8-5 (1nc))

DR: Derlorme via Submission

CG: Caceres via Decision

PB: Delorme via Submission

CP: Caceres via Submission

JS: Delorme via Submission

MMAInsider.net picks Roland Delorme 3-2

Heavyweight Bout – Nandor Guelmino (11-4-1) vs Daniel Omielanczuk (15-3-1 (1nc))

DR: Omielanczuk via (T)KO

CG:Omielanczuk via Submission

PB: Omielanczuk via Decision

CP: Omielanczuk via (T)KO

JS: Omielanczuk via Decision

MMAInsider.net picks Daniel Omielanczuk 5-0


Current scores after 10 events:

Chuck Grace:  – 65/94 (69%)

Dave Reid:  – 59/94 (63%)

Jordan Smith:  – 54/94 (57%)

Dane Ford:  – 50/83 (60%)

Chris Pohlman: – 43/69 (62%)

Paul Bruens – 12/23 (52%)

Douglas Keast: – 11/23 (48%)


Remember if you want to compete with the MMAInsider.net crew then head on over to MMAFantasyFever.com and go head to head with us!

About Dave Reid

Dave is an avid MMA fan and the content officer for MMAInsider.net If you would like to get in touch with him you can email him at dreid@mmainsider.net or follow him on twitter @davereiduk

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