The debate over the outcome of the main event of UFC 165 will linger for quite a while. What won't drag on nearly as long is the debate over whether or not the five round battle between champion Jon Jones and challenger Alexander Gustafsson was one of the greatest title fights in the history of the UFC. It was.
It was the kind of fight that you'll want to watch many times over. The kind of fight that you'll show your friends, who may not be fans of mixed martial arts, to get them to want to watch more MMA. Dispute the decision that went Jones' way if you want, but don't dispute the fight was an instant classic.
Oh, and that Renan Barao guy, yeah, it turns out that he's pretty good as well.
On to the winners and losers from Toronto.
Jon Jones - Jones wrote his name in the UFC record books on Saturday night with his sixth consecutive defense of the UFC light heavyweight title, but he did not have an easy go of things. Alexander Gustafsson tested the champion like we have never seen him tested before. Still, Jones left Toronto with the victory, and his UFC title. Jones showed that he could work through adversity and stay on point and not become frustrated when things weren't going his way. Jones also showed that he is human, despite what his walkout shirt said. After effectively cruising through his first five defenses, that may have been a lesson Jones needed to learn.
Alexander Gustafsson - With the exception of his teammate Dominick Cruz, not many expected Gustafsson to defeat Jon Jones on Saturday night, and he didn't. What he did do was take Jones five rounds and left him with a bloody and swollen face. At the end of those five rounds. The fight will go under the loss column on Gustafsson's record, but under no circumstances could you call Gustafsson a loser after Saturday night.
Renan Barao - Ok, so he didn't look like a monster right of the gate on Saturday night, but when he landed a spinning back kick to the face Eddie Wineland don't lie and say you didn't hear Joe Rogan in your head exclaiming that Barao is a monster. That kick will be showing up on MMA highlight reels for a long time to come. The kick and some follow up strikes on the ground brought referee Yves Lavigne in to wave off the fight.
Brendan Schaub - Schaub set up a takedown of Matt Mitrione by rushing him with strikes. That takedown led to a D'arce choke that turned out Mitrione's lights. The choke gave Schaub the first submission win of his 13 fight professional career. The victory was a nice change of pace for Schaub after his safe win over Lavar Johnson at UFC 157.
Francis Carmont - Ah Tristar, you know how to put together the perfect game plan. You worked your magic again on Saturday night, turning Francis Carmont, a fighter that many knew as a training partner of Georges St-Pierre into a fighter that may break into the middleweight top ten. Carmont dominated Costa Philippou with takedowns and ground strikes over the course of three rounds. It wasn't the most exciting fight, but it was a win over a top ten opponent and that counts for a great deal, or at least it should count for a great deal.
Khabib Nurmagomedov - Nurmagomedov may find himself breaking into the top ten in the lightweight division with his win over Pat Healy on Saturday. How long he'll stay there may depend on whom the UFC books him against in his next bout. If they put him against someone with good cardio, strong wrestling and accurate striking Nurmagomedov could find himself in for quite the test. He's a bit reckless with his striking and that may cost him his long winning streak. After the fight Nurmagomedov said he was ready for a title shot, I disagree with that, but there's no way I'm missing his next fight, he is exciting to watch.
Stephen Thompson - Many had high hopes for Thompson when he devastated Dan Stittgen at UFC 143. A loss to Matt Brown in his next outing left those hopes somewhat tempered. Thompson seemed to re-elevate those hopes on Saturday when he showed he is evolving as a fighter. He mixed in some wrestling with his striking, ending Chris Clements' night early in the second round.
Mitch Gagnon - Dustin Kimura hurt Gagnon badly with a body shot in the first round of their UFC 165 contest. How badly was Gagnon hurt? Bad enough to leave Gagnon doubled over and holding his midsection for a second. Gagnon had the sense to shoot for a takedown, giving himself time to recover. The fighters then went to their feet where Gagnon landed some heavy punches to the head and body, which set up a guillotine that put Dustin Kimura to sleep. Making the victory even more impressive was the fact that it was Gagnon's first fight in a year after undergoing knee surgery.
UFC's promo #1 - The UFC obviously ignored all the online feedback about the horrendous "heads explode" promotional video for UFC 165, insisting on showing the advertisement multiple times leading into the pay per view. The brief, but still far too long promo clip was by far the worst video the UFC has ever repeatedly used to advertise a fight. We are all a little dumber after seeing that.
UFC's promo #2 - The UFC did a poor job promoting the main event. When all you can come up with to promote the fight is that the two dudes competing are tall, you're not doing your job. True, not many expected Gustafsson to win or even give Jones a real test, but you know what? It was the promotion's job to convince people that it was going to be more than Jones running over another opponent. The UFC failed to do that in spectacular fashion. If there is a rematch, and there should be, don't expect the UFC to roll out the tall fighter promos for that one.
Renan Barao - Let's never see or speak of Barao's victory dance again.
Matt Mitrione - Mitrione's run over the last two years has not been the best. He's turned down a fight against Daniel Cormier, he's earned a suspension over comments he made about transgender fighter Fallon Fox, and now he's lost three of his last four fights, two by first round stoppage.
Costa Philippou - Philippou will drop in the rankings after Saturday's loss to Francis Carmont. He entered the fight as the No. 7 ranked middleweight, but didn't show much of anything that leads me to believe he will stay in the top ten after his loss to Francis Carmont. If Philippou left the Serra-Longo camp because he thought he was working his way toward a shot at UFC middleweight champion Chris Weidman, who also trains with Serra-Longo, well, that isn't a concern any longer. Philippou needs to get back to the team that had him on a five-fight winning streak as soon as possible.
Pat Healy - Healy has had a rough past few months. First, he lost $130,000 in bonus money after his win over Jim Miller at UFC 159. As a result of a positive drug test for marijuana, Healy's win was changed to a no contest and his Fight of the Night and Submission of the Night bonuses were rescinded. On Saturday night, he lost to Khabib Nurmagomedov and odds are that with the defeat Healy will fall out of the top ten in the lightweight division.
Mike Ricci and Myles Jury - If you ever want to see the kind of fight the UFC does not want as a lead in to a pay-per-view card watch the fight between Ricci and Jury again. The fight offered fans that were on the fence about purchasing the UFC 165 PPV no compelling reason to fork over $55 for the event. If UFC president Dana White's tweet about the fight was any indication, he could practically feel people turning off the channel and leaving the house for the night.
Todd Ronald Anderson - Renee Forte may have had his career shortened a bit thanks to the terrible officiating of Anderson. John Makdessi dropped Forte with a shot behind the ear. He followed that with multiple strikes to the downed Forte. Several of those punches came after Anderson should have stopped the fight. According to FightMetric, UFC 165 was the first UFC fight card that Anderson refereed, hopefully he gets some seasoning before he used again at the UFC level.
More from Bloody Elbow:
- UFC 165 results: Jon Jones vs. Alexander Gustafsson highlight video online
- UFC 165: Jones vs Gustafsson - Results and post-fight analysis
- UFC 165 Jones vs Gustafsson post-fight press conference video and coverage
- UFC 165: Jon Jones dodges a bullet in controversial decision over Alexander Gustafsson
- UFC 165 results: Renan Barao defends interim title in style, KO's Eddie Wineland