Inside Pulse Reality Guru and all-around good guy Murtz Jaffer is lucky enough to be in press row for UFC 165. While our very own Scott Sawitz is handling the play by play duties (you can click here, here and here) Murtz will be live blogging his experience from Press Row.
After an intense week in LA at the Dancing With The Stars premiere and the Big Brother finale, I flew into Toronto this morning to make sure I was here to bring you all the live action for UFC 165.
The first bout up is…
NANDOR GUELMINO VS. DANIEL OMIELANCZUK
The fight is grapple-heavy and as the first match of the night, the crowd doesn’t seem into it. With that said, it’s clear that the UFC’s heavyweight division needs some new talent and a good fight here would do wonders for adding more competitors to square off against Cain Velasquez and Junior dos Santos.
The first round was the curtain-jerker match that you would expect, with neither man taking the fight to the other. The edge goes to Omielanczuk, but not by much.
The second clearly seemed to favour Omielanczuk as he came in top-heavy with fists flying. As heavyweight fights usually go, the match quickly went to the ground and it’s here where Guelmino seemed to find his stride, gaining the top position. Didn’t last for too long.
Three minutes into the third round, Omielanczuk landed a powerful left that not only put Guelmino out of his misery but also thankfully ended the match that gassed both fighters out almost immediately. The devastating knockout happened right in front of me in a fight that Omielanczuk seemed to have almost as soon as it began.
After the match, Omielanczuk admitted that Guelmino’s attack almost had no effect.
“I didn’t really feel his punches and kicks and I felt comfortable heading into the third round. I knew I could hurt him with my striking, and the support from the Polish fans helped,” he said. “I haven’t thought of who I would like to fight in future, right now I just want to return to Poland, have a party and spend time with my girlfriend.”
ALEX CACERES VS. ROLAND DELORME
Clearly a crowd favorite amongst the partisan Canadian audience, Delorme (who formerly competed on The Ultimate Fighter: Bisping vs. Miller was impressive with stunning rollout reversals. The first round seemed quite even as both martial artists seemed to show the other why they are in the UFC. At the break, Benson Henderson (fresh off the heels of his loss to Anthony Pettis) seemed offered Caceres a lot of tips and tricks along with the water that he gave him.
Certainly the pacing of the match and that it included a Canadian seemed to win the crowd back from the first fight which was a snoozer up until the knockout.
The match seemed to go back and forth with each fighter landing their shots but one of the primary turning points seemed to be when Caceres missed a kick and Roland Delorme took momentum over. Certainly Caceres’ conditioning was a factor as he seemed fresh through all three rounds. Either that, or Henderson’s first break-advice was a major factor.
Caceres was declared the winner by split decision (29-28, 28-29, 29-28).
After the match, Caceres didn’t seem to think that the fight was as close as it was.
“In the first round he had a takedown but it was a mistake on my part. I made sure it didn’t happen again in the second or third. I landed a lot of shots with my hands and my legs too and a couple on his forehead,” he said. “Just looking at the damage done and the activity during the fight, I felt that this had to be mine.”
JESSE RONSON VS. MICHEL PRAZERES
While the crowd initially didn’t seem to like this match, I thought it was quite entertaining and Prazeres was a specific standout. What impressed me the most was his incredible side control and ability to seemingly slam Ronson down to the match at will. With that being said, the fight was Ronson’s UFC debut and I am sure his performance was certainly affected by opening day nerves.
Eventually the crowd was won over by an incredibly entertaining final round. While Prazeres dominated the majority of the fight, Ronson tried to steal the match with a hail mary comeback in the third round. The Ontario fighter landed a huge slam after being initially taken down by the Brazilian and the crowd ate it up. They were further egged on by Ronson whooping it up after the match. Alas, it was not to be as Prazeres was declared the winner by split decision (29-28, 28-29, 29-28).
After the match, Ronson admitted that he made a miscalculation.
“First round, I had the UFC jitters and he took me down early, but I didn’t give up. In the last 10 seconds I thought there was a minute left so I went berserk. I thought I had more time, but I didn’t. I misjudged it. That sucks,” he said.
RENEE FORTE VS. JOHN MAKDESSI
The only question in this fight was how quickly it would end. While I doubt that Makdessi watched the fights that preceded his, it was clear that his Canadian comrades (Jesse Ronson and Roland Delorme) had been on the wrong end of split decisions. In the case of the light heavyweight from Nova Scotia, the result was never in doubt as he ended the fight by knockout after pulverizing his opponent with a straight shot, followed by massive punches to the face. Personally, I think the fight should have been called earlier than it was but it certainly seemed to get the crowd back into it as a knockout two minutes into the first round usually would. Makdessi’s best strategy was to stick to his strength, and by focusing on his kickboxing and not allowing Forte to take him down resulted in an easy win.
MITCH GAGNON VS. DUSTIN KIMURA
Best fight of the night thus far, not because it was overtly technical but because it was total domination. Gagnon, who I actually thought was the underdog heading into the match because of a prior knee injury, had it from the opening bell. After taking a vicious body shot from his opponent, Gagnon took Kimura down and squeezed out a guillotine submission in the first round. This was after making Kimura bleed from the mouth after jabbing him at will.
The crowd loved every second and the entire area stood on their feet. Gagnon looked like a dominant contender and one who I can totally see on the main card in his next bout.
After the fight, Gagnon said that he was happy with his performance.
“I was working on a few options with Dustin. I was waiting for the tap but it never came and he stopped moving, then I got pulled off. It’s the perfect way to come back. I feel like things are coming together and getting better and better.”
Kimura said that he made a mistake that Gagnon capitalized on.
“It was a good fight, back and forth from start to finish. It was exactly how I thought it was going to be. I just made a mistake and he jumped on it and took me down. I wasn’t going to tap, it was kind of tight and I just went to sleep,” he said.
CHRIS CLEMENTS VS. STEPHEN THOMPSON
Kicks were the order of the day as Stephen Thompson’s striking seemed to confuse Clements. It almost seemed like Thompson had a change of heart as he initially attempted to take Clements down, but got tired of eating retaliatory hits from Clements when he did. After putting the focus on what was working for him (the aforementioned striking), he seemed to have much greater success. In the second round, Thompson scored with a couple of fierce head kicks followed by a combination leg kick that put Clements down. Thompson finished it out with strikes, although it admittedly looked like the ref jumped into early which seemed to incite some first-row observers.
IVAN MENJIVAR VS. WILSON REIS
Worst fight of the night as it seemed like the pair of fighters were trying to figure out which one was going to ask the other to go with them to the Sadie Hawkins dance. The slow-paced match was unfortunate, especially coming on the heels of two matches with strong finishes
If you are wondering why the crowd seemed distracted in the second round, it is because Jon ‘Bones’ Jones came out WHILE THE ROUND WAS GOING ON to wave to the crowd after an interview.
Reis won the fight by unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28)
MYLES JURY VS. MIKE RICCI
This is definitely the fight that I am looking the most forward to (considering both fighters are veterans of The Ultimate Fighter, and given my reality television background, I am quite familiar with both. I will also be interviewing the winner after this one is over.
The fight is certainly not the technical battle that I thought it would be. The crowd turned on the fighters early as it appears neither wants to make a mistake. I gave the first round edge to Ricci, but it seemed like this was a battle of weak one-hitters. Almost no combinations were landed and that’s probably because almost none were thrown.
The Canadian crowd seemed to be with Ricci initially because of his Montreal background, but had no problem turning on him when the second round almost seemed just as slow.
Scott Sawitz who is also doing live play-by-play commented that even Joe Rogan started to complain on the live stream and I am not surprised as the fight was quite boring.
The second round went to Jury quite handily and while I am normally excited about heading into a third round with the match belonging to anybody, in this case, I almost just wanted the misery to end.
Mercifully, it did in the third round which saw Ricci attempt a guillotine but let it go in favour of attempt to gain a better position.
The fight ended with Jury winning by a split decision (29-28, 28-29, 29-28) but really there was no winner.
Jury tried to explain what happened after the match.
“I fight the best that I can, it would have been nice if I could have gone out and finish him. I thought he came forward a lot more than most of his fights. Aggression was a big thing and it was hard for me to go forward when he’s going forward too. Honestly, I wasn’t surprised it was a split decision, I was fighting someone in front of his home crowd, now I have a unanimous, a split, a KO and a submission in my UFC fights, so that’s four different ways to win, baby.”
Stay tuned to Inside Fights for my exclusive one-on-one post-fight interview with Myles Jury.
PAT HEALY VS. KHABIB NURMAGOMDOV
Running almost directly in contrast to the majority of the prelim fights on the UFC 165 card, the Healy/Nurmagomdov match-up was a thrill ride from the start. Healy seemed to have the advantage early-on, starting with straight jabs but after a couple of flying knees from Nurmagomdov, the fight seemed to square. The pair began to trade blows which got the crowd excited and the opening round seemed to belong to Nurmagomdov after his initially slow start.
In the second round, the gladiator type swings only continued. While Healy seemed to be the aggressor, this almost seemed to play to Nurmagomdov who preferred by a counter catalyst. The problem here seemed to be one of conditioning as it appeared like Nurmagomdov was tired near the end of the round and didn’t have an answer for Healy’s offensive attack to close out the round.
The third round was punctuated by Nurmagomdov picking up his opponent, running across the Octagon and slamming him to the ground, causing quite a stir amongst the spectators in attendance. While it looked like Nurmagomdov was the tired one in the previous round, it seemed like Healy had nothing left in the tank after the slam.
Nurmagomdov won the fight by a unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27).
FRANCIS CARMONT VS. CONSTANTINOS (COSTA) PHILIPPOU
Carmont’s kicks seemed to win him the scorecard advantage early on in this one. While Philippou’s half-guard impressed to a degree, Carmont seemed to have this one in the bag from the outset. Fusing his strikes with a vicious armbar at the end of the first round, definitely gave him the points.
In the second, Carmont completed a beautiful double-leg takedown and proceeded to land some great shots to the head from the top position on the mat. Really, it almost seemed like a win for Philippou would be getting through the fight without being submitted or knocked out.
The third round was more of the same. Total Carmont ownage.
Easy decision for the judges as Carmont takes it (30-27, 30-27, 30-26)
MATT MITRIONE VS. BRENDAN SCHAUB
The crowd definitely needed a heavyweight fight and they got one. This was another fight that I was particularly interested in because of the stints that both martial artists had on The Ultimate Fighter.
I sat next to a colleague and explained to him that Brendan Schaub has always remained as a bit of an enigma to me. He seems to have all of the tools but has never been the dominant force that everyone almost expects him to be.
The fight had the crowd’s attention from the start and the result was quite shocking as Schaub submitted his opponent. Judging by his post-fight celebration, it almost seemed like he was just as in shock.
UFC INTERIM BANTAMWEIGHT CHAMPION RENAN BARAO VS. EDDIE WINELAND
Like many UFC PPV’s, this one will be remembered by its last two fights and if that is the case, then the first main event certainly delivered.
Eddie Wineland is one of the best challengers that Barao has had to face and a perfect opponent to test what he can do before he faces off against Dominick Cruz.
The first round was fascinating as Wineland came out with guns blazing. Pushing the pace early, Wineland brought the fight to the champion. Wineland scored an effective takedown and almost seemed to landing punches at will. Even with a couple of striking combinations near the end of the round, Barao couldn’t compete with the challenger in the first.
The second round? Well, it didn’t last too long. A stunning spinning back kick by Barao ended it both viciously and definitively.
UFC LIGHT HEAVYWEIGHT CHAMPION JON JONES VS. ALEXANDER GUSTAFSSON
Insane start to the fight as Gustafsson owned the first round, pushing the pace and bringing the fight to the champion.
Jones looks weaker than he has in any other fight and currently this seems like it is Gustafsson’s fight to lose.
In particular, it is the Swede’s aggression that seems to be the story of the match thus far. He is consistently throwing the first.
While Jones showed flashes of brilliance in the second, it still seemed like he was just looking for answers to Gustafsson’s attack, instead of being the champion who is asking the questions.
The third round was more of a toss-up. Like many of the fights on the card, there was one fighter throwing and the other simply trying to defend. The story of the UFC 165 main event, however, was that it was the challenger who seemed to be on the offensive whereas we have grown accustomed to the champion being the one dictating how the match should go.
The air in the crowd almost seems like a new champion will be crowned and from a decision perspective, I don’t see anyway this match does not go to Gustafsson.
So far, both rounds go to Gustafsson.
Jones looks bloodied and beaten.
The fourth round is where the tide begins to turn. Jones finally starts capitalizing on Gustafsson’s running out of gas. If this was a game of cat and mouse, both have traded roles. The problem is that Jones’ turn as the cat only started now and it might be too late as Gustafsson has the first three rounds.
In the final round, Gustafsson looks wobbly but Jones can’t put him away.
Winner… by unanimous decision… Jon ‘Bones’ Jones?
I have to say that while many fight pundits will score this fight as even, I definitely did not see it the same way. I thought that Gustafsson easily had the first three rounds and that the last two rounds were basically just intended to allow the champion to save face. Gustafsson is called ‘The Mauler’ and a more apt description for what he did to the light heavyweight champion cannot be found as Jones was mauled for the majority of the fight.
At the press conference, Dana White announced that neither Jones or Gustafsson would be answering questions as they were both being rushed to the hospital.
All in all, while UFC 165 started off slow, the last two matches delivered which is all you can ask for. Jones and Gustafsson is already being billed as the ‘match of the year’ and the almost-guaranteed rematch is sure to have a gate that rivals the Silva/Weidman rematch later this year.