Two UFC belts are on the line at UFC 165 this Saturday in Toronto. UFC Light Heavyweight champion Jon Jones and UFC interim Bantamweight champ Renan Barao are both defending their titles. But we're not here to talk about the big fights. This here is a look ahead at the less significant bouts on the undercard, the four fights on the Fox Sports 1 preliminary card.
Let's do it.
Two Ultimate Fighter veterans headline the FS1 broadcast. 27-year-old Mike Ricci (8-3, 1-1 UFC) was a finalist on season 15 but he has sputtered a bit in the big leagues. 24-year-old Myles Jury (12-0, 3-0 UFC) was a bit of a bust on season 16 but he's turned it on in the Octagon.
Ricci is perhaps best known for losing via KO to current Bellator Featherweight champ Pat Curran but the Tristar Gym product will have the home field advantage against Jury at UFC 165. That will pretty much be the only advantage he has.
Look for Jury to dominate the take down game and use his top position to batter Ricci with efficient ground and pound.
Prediction: Jury by decision.
Bantamweight Ivan Menjivar vs. Wilson Reis
It may seem like the veteran Menjivar (25-10, 4-3 UFC) has been fighting forever, but he's only 31 years old. He'll be facing Bellator veteran and BJJ star Wilson Reis (16-4, 0-0 UFC) this Saturday. Menjivar is coming off a tough loss to Urijah Faber at UFC 157 and had been set to face Norifumi "Kid" Yamamoto, but the injury bug pulled the Kid from the card and gave Reis his chance.
Menjivar is well-rounded, canny and brutal. Reis is a good wrestler with excellent jiu-jitsu. Reis is 4-0 in smaller promotions after being cut loose by Bellator following a 3-3 run with the #2 promotion. Despite Menjivar being tapped for the first time in his long career last time out, don't expect Reis to repeat the feat. Menjivar is too experienced, too savvy and too big (2" height advantage) to lose this one.
Prediction: Menjivar by decision.
It's a battle of traditional martial arts masters as Thompson (7-1, 2-1 UFC) meets Clements (11-4, 1-0 UFC) in a karate vs. taekwondo bout. Thompson made a big splash in his UFC debut, winning KO of the Night at UFC 143 but he hit a brutal speed bump in a decision loss to Matt Brown. The 30-year-old Thompson redeemed himself somewhat by clinching and mugging Nah-shon Burrell at UFC 160 for a unanimous decision win.
The 37-year-old Clements is only nominally undefeated in the UFC because his UFC 149 opponent Matt Riddle failed a post-fight drug test after choking Clements out in the third round. Clements may be the more powerful striker but I think Thompson has the more complete overall game.
Prediction: Thompson by decision
Bantamweight Mitch Gagnon vs. Dustin Kimura
Canadian Gagnon (9-2, 1-1 UFC) will enjoy home field advantage against the Hawaiian Kimura (10-0, 1-0 UFC), but at the risk of repeating myself, that's about the only advantage he'll hold. Kimura is taller, more massive and probably stronger. Both men are the kind of one-dimensional submission specialist that rarely thrive at the highest levels of the sport.
That may lead cynics like myself to brace for a bad kickboxing match, but should the fight go to the ground, look for some entertaining scrambles as both men look for the submission.
Prediction: Kimura by submission