Jon Jones defended the UFC light heavyweight title in a razor-close, exhilarating main event against Alexander Gustafsson at UFC 165 in Toronto on Saturday night.
For the first time in his career, Jones was taken down by an opponent and admittedly dealt with one of the toughest fights he’s ever been involved in. The champion retained his belt with judges’ scores of 48-47, 48-47 and 49-46.
“I’ve been asking for a dogfight for a long time,” Jones said following the win, “and I finally got that dogfight I’ve been looking for.
“He was just a tough fighter … That was by far my toughest fight.”
Gustafsson came out strong, trading strikes with the champion and scored on numerous combinations. The challenger opened up a cut on Jones’ face with a glancing punch near the halfway point of the opening round, and eventually took the champ down for the first time in his career. Gustafsson and Jones went back to the corners with the challenger ahead.
At the beginning of the second round, Jones had all of his takedowns stopped. Jones continued throwing spinning kicks and other combinations, but the challenger kept moving forward and answering with punches and front kicks. The Swedish challenger Gustafsson landed several head shots, leaving Jones being more beaten up after two rounds of a fight than ever before.
In the third round, Gustafsson began to slow down and Jones remained active. Still, Gustafsson remained light on his feet and used his footwork to get within the champ’s range to land strikes. The frame was competitively even.
The fourth round gave way to Jones landing his most significant strike of the fight, a spinning elbow that rocked his foe. Gustafsson had landed two left hooks up to that point that potentially had him winning the round, but Jones’ relentless attacks after landing his elbow gave him the round back.
In the last round, Jones continued controlling the fight and landed more punches and kicks on a tired Gustafsson. The bout then went to decision with the unanimous nod for Jones.
“It was such an honor for me to fight the champ,” Gustafsson said. “He’s the champ for a reason.”
With the win, Jones breaks the record for consecutive 205-pound UFC title defense with seven. The old record of six was previously held by Tito Ortiz.
Following the night of fights, UFC President Dana White asked, “Who doesn’t want to see this rematch?” but would not commit to granting Gustafsson a second chance at Jones.
Barao spinning-back kicks his way to retaining interim title
Renan Barao successfully defended his interim UFC bantamweight title with a technical knockout of Eddie Wineland in their UFC 165 co-main event.
Barao landed a spinning-back kick that led to the TKO, giving him the win at 0:35 of the second round, setting up an eventual title-unification fight with the injured divisional champ.
“I’m just waiting for Dominick Cruz now,” Barao said after the win.
Wineland looked as though he was ahead on the scorecard after the first round, a frame that saw him trading every strike with the interim champ. The challenger constantly moved forward and set the pace of the fight until the second round, where Barao landed a kick that sent Wineland crashing to the floor.
Once on the ground, Barao swarmed on his opponent and the referee stepped in to put a stop to the contest after Wineland covered up.
The win improves Barao’s overall record to 31-1, 1 N.C. The Brazilian fighter hasn’t suffered a loss since his MMA debut in 2005.
Schaub puts Mitrione to sleep
Brendan Schaub showed that he wasn’t simply handed his Jiu-Jitsu brown belt, getting a submission win over Matt Mitrione at UFC 165.
Schaub locked on a D’Arce choke to finish his former TUF roommate, getting the finish at 4:06 of the opening round.
The two heavyweights engaged on the feet early on, until Schaub moved forward with a flurry of punches. He got the clinch on Mitrione and scored a big takedown, putting the fighter on his back.
Schuab eventually passed his opponent’s guard, but left a gap for Mitrione to attempt getting back to the feet. It was this opportunity where Schaub secured the D’Arce choke and put Mitrione to sleep for the technical submission.
With the win, Schaub improves to 10-3, while Mitrione drops to 6-3.
Carmont wins less-than-exciting decision
Francis Carmont imposed his will on Costa Philippou for three straight rounds, getting a unanimous-decision win in their UFC 165 main card fight.
Carmont scored on every takedown attempt, playing top position for nearly all 15 minutes of the fight and earning scores of 30-27, 30-27 and 30-26.
With the win, Carmont improves his record to 22-7 with six straight wins since debuting in the UFC in October 2011.
Nurmagomedov makes statement, punishes Healy for three rounds
Khabib Nurmagomedov opened up the UFC 165 pay-per-view with a dominant performance over Pat Healy on Saturday.
Nurmagomedov landed a mixture of strikes, cutting open his opponent’s face on the way to a unanimous decision with scores of 30-27 across the judges’ panel.
The 25-year-old Russian fighter went on to address the crowd and ask for a title shot, explaining that he is 21-0 and 5-0 in the UFC.
Miles Jury def. Mike Ricci by split decision (29-28, 29-28, 28-29)
Wilson Reis def. Ivan Menjivar by unanimous decision (29-28 x3)
Stephen Thompson def. Chris Clements by TKO (punches) at 1:27, Round 2
Mitch Gagnon def. Dustin Kimura by submission (guillotine choke) at 4:05, Round 1
Prelims on GRACIEMAG.com:
John Makdessi def. Renee Forte by KO (punches) at 2:01, Round 1
Michel Prazeres def. Jesse Ronson by split decision (28-29, 29-28, 29-28)
Alex Caceres def. Roland Delorme by split decision (29-28, 28-29, 29-28)
Daniel Omielanczuk def. Nandor Guelmino by KO (strikes) at 3:18, Round 3