Viewers Guide to the Undercard: UFC 165 Edition

The UFC returns this Saturday after a brief hiatus for UFC 165 and will be showcased at the Air Canada Centre in Toronto, Canada and coming along for the ride is UFC Light-Heavyweight Champion, Jon Jones. Jones will look to defend his title for a UFC record sixth time against the big Swede, Alexander Gustafsson in a contest that appears to have become an afterthought for commentators on Jones’ ever-growing legacy in MMA. Acting as the co-main event for the evening is an Interim Bantamweight Championship bout, as Renan Barao looks to defend his version of the belt against Eddie Wineland. The main card is rounded out by heavyweights Brendan Schaub and Matt Mitrione, middleweights Costa Philippou and Francis Carmont, and lightweights Pat Healy and Khabib Nurmagomedov.

Now, as always I am here to brief you on what you should be looking out for on the undercard. So let’s get started…

Mike ‘The Martian’ Ricci (8-3-0) vs. Myles ‘Fury’ Jury (12-0-0) –
Headlining the prelims and leading us in to the night’s main card action is a lightweight bout between Mike Ricci and Myles Jury.

Mike Ricci is probably best known to fans from his run on season 16 of The Ultimate Fighter where he would go on to reach the final of the welterweight competition and face Colton Smith for the right to be named TUF champion for that particular instalment. Ricci would end up on the losing side of that contest, which was his official UFC debut, but since then Montreal’s Ricci bounced back with a unanimous decision victory over the now cut Colin Fletcher in his return to the lightweight division and his more natural weight class.

Myles Jury is also a former TUF alum, having competed on season 15 of the long-running UFC reality TV show where a knee injury sustained in the preliminary stages of the competition prevented him from making any real mark on the series. Jury entered the TUF house with an undefeated record of 9-0 and since leaving the house, Jury has managed to extend that undefeated streak to 12-0 having won all three of his contests in the UFC with notable victories over Michael Johnson and Ramsey Nijem.

Both guys are more than capable on the feet but I’d have to give the advantage to Ricci here as he has shown a slightly more diverse attack in recent fights than Jury. However, when it comes to grappling Jury holds the edge here and should be able to put Ricci in to enough positions to stifle his opponent’s striking and have the judges scoring in his favour.

Prediction – Jury via unanimous decision

Ivan ‘The Pride of El Salvador’ Menjivar (25-10-0) vs. Wilson Reis (16-4-0) –
Next up is a bantamweight battle between Ivan Menjivar and Wilson Reis.

Ranked #10 on the official UFC bantamweight rankings, Ivan Menjivar has hit a slight bump in the road as of late. Having started his UFC career with three straight victories in 2011/12, Menjivar is now 1-2 over his last three outings, with the two losses coming against Mike Easton and most recently at UFC 157 at the hands of Urijah Faber. ‘The Pride of El Salvador’ will be looking to avoid back-to-back defeats for the first time in his UFC career when he takes on Wilson Reis this Saturday.

Reis, who took this fight on short notice stepping in for Norifumi ‘Kid’ Yamamoto after he got injured, will be making his UFC debut when he steps in to the Octagon at UFC 165. Reis is probably best known for a two-year long association with Bellator where he would go on to compete in several tournaments reaching the semi-final stage on three occasions.

Menjivar seems to be the kind of fighter that is more than capable of defeating the lesser guys of the division but always seems to be just one rung of the ladder below the top guys, essentially he is a gatekeeper to the bantamweight division. Thankfully for Menjivar, Reis is not one of the top guys at 135lbs and I fully expect Menjivar to handily take care of the short notice Reis. Look for Menjivar to keep the fight standing and fully work Reis on the feet en route to an early finish.

Prediction – Menjivar via KO/TKO in the 1st round.

John ‘The Bull’ Makdessi (11-2-0) vs. Renee Forte (8-2-0) –
We now move on to the lightweight division where John Makdessi will take on Renee Forte at UFC 165.

If Makdessi is able to claim victory over Forte this Saturday, he will be dangerously close to regaining the lost momentum he had built up in his MMA career prior to signing with the UFC and his first two showings in the Octagon. A win over Forte, while not a big name, would take Makdessi’s current win streak to three and may well provide ‘The Bull’ with a shot at a top 10 or 15 opponent that could really kick-start his career in the UFC.

Forte, a competitor on the first season of The Ultimate Fighter: Brazil, will be making his third appearance in the Octagon and will enter the bout having achieved arguably the biggest win of his career. Back at UFC on Fuel TV: Barao vs. McDonald earlier this year in February, Forte took on and soundly defeated the once highly thought of Terry Etim in his lightweight debut.

Makdessi will hold a big advantage on the feet, as the Canadian packs fast, powerful punches that could KO many UFC lightweights if landed flush. If Forte is to take this one he will need to get Makdessi to the mat as soon as he can and look to fully utilise his solid grappling and expose Makdessi’s deficiencies in this area. For me, Makdessi takes this. Look for Makdessi to push the pace early and attempt to take Forte’s head clean off before he has even had a chance to think about a takedown.

Prediction – Makdessi via KO/TKO in the 1st round.

Roland ‘Stunning’ Delorme (9-1-0-1 NC) vs. Alex ‘Bruce Leeroy’ Caceres (8-5-0-1 NC) –
The final fight that I have taken a shine to on the undercard is a bantamweight clash featuring Roland Delorme and Alex Caceres.

Roland Delorme is another TUF graduate and hit our screens on season 14 of the show. Delorme would make it to the house, but not much further, as ‘Stunning’ would go on to be completely dominated then submitted by TJ Dillashaw in the 2nd round of their fight. Delorme was given a shot in the UFC at the season finale and took it with both hands, submitting Josh Ferguson. Since then Delorme has stayed somewhat undefeated in his three proceeding contests, compiling a 2-0-0-1 NC record after Francisco Rivera failed a drug test at UFC 149 having previously defeated Delorme via KO.

Caceres first came to our attention, like Delorme, on TUF where he would go on to reach the quarter final stage of the competition. I think it’s fair to say that Caceres has lived quite a charmed life in the UFC so far, as he began his life in the Octagon with a 1-3 record over his first four fights, the kind of run that has seen off far more talented and high profile individuals than the man who refers to himself as Bruce Leeroy. Since then however, Caceres has found a level of consistency winning 2 out of his last three fights with his most recent performance being the one to buck this new trend, as Caceres would fail a post-fight drug test having defeated Kyung Ho Kang via split decision back in March.

This one should be interesting as Caceres will look to use his kicks to keep Delorme at bay and dictate the rhythm of the fight through his superior striking, whereas Delorme will look to exploit Caceres’ takedown defence en route to securing a submission or grinding out a decision in top position. I think I’ll go with scenario number two, as Caceres, while comfortable on the feet and holding an advantage over Delorme in this category, does not possess the kind of defensive wrestling required to prevent Delorme from controlling this one.

Prediction – Delorme via unanimous decision.

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