Fans at the Air Canada Centre in Toronto were treated to something special last night. Jon Jones and Alexander Gustafsson put up one of the great title fights in UFC history, and while scores from fans and media members alike were all over the place, the three judges at cageside all saw it unanimously for Jon Jones. That will be up for debate for quite some time, but there's no denying what an excellent contest it was between two of the best fighters in the world today.
We also had some other good main card action, including Renan Barao's spinning back kick TKO of Eddie Wineland, Brendan Schaub choking Matt Mitrione unconscious, and Khabib Nurmagomedov establishing himself as a lightweight force. With Tim Burke still on vacation/mud wrestling crocodiles in Australia, I'm here in his place to do some fantasy matchmaking for all of the main card fighters.
Jon Jones. During the pre-fight intro you saw Jon Jones with a shirt that said "Not Quite Human". Alexander Gustafsson squashed that, and according to The Human League, Jones is indeed "Human". He was taken down, he was bloodied up, he was forced to be in the uncomfortable position of a kickboxing battle with the superior striker. Despite all of that, Jones was able to pull off a dramatic rally and win an all-time classic. I personally think that Jones' status as an all-time great fighter should be elevated and NOT downplayed after digging deep for the victory. Dana White said that a rematch is likely, and it's clearly the best fight to make in the division.
Alexander Gustafsson. That was easily the best we've ever seen Gustafsson perform, and him and Jones are the top 2 fighters at 205 lbs bar none. He, like Jones, also proved he can take one hell of a shot, as the spinning elbow in the 4th round had him retreating and moments away from a heartbreaking TKO loss. In the unlikely event that the rematch doesn't happen, I say give him the winner of Chael Sonnen/Rashad Evans, but otherwise bring on the rematch.
Now the next question becomes "But what about Glover Teixeira?". I say he should be booked against Phil Davis, a legitimate top 5 LHW who is a better quality opponent than Teixeira's best win of Ryan Bader or 2013 Quinton Jackson.
Renan Barao. I hope fans realize what Barao just accomplished last night. Not only did he become the first man to defend the interim belt twice, but he's the first guy to KO or TKO Eddie Wineland in 30 professional fights. I really can't consider Barao anything other than the "full" bantamweight champion just based on his 5-0 record since Dominick Cruz's last fight. He's beaten 5 of the current top 10 UFC bantamweights in just 2 years in the UFC, and that's downright magnificent. If Dominick Cruz is healthy, then he'll obviously fight Barao. However, if Cruz is not ready by early 2014, then Barao is probably headed for another rematch against the winner of Urijah Faber/Michael McDonald.
Eddie Wineland. I'm a big Wineland fan, but Barao is just on another level compared to him. It was a big enough loss that it would be very hard to just charge right back into the title picture with 1-2 wins even in a thin division like bantamweight. I'd like to see him against Mike Easton next.
Brendan Schaub. What an elaborate troll job by Schaub! He was ridiculed and criticized for his performance on the Metamoris PPV, and yet here he is getting a nice d'arce choke submission. Only a matter of time before he becomes the most feared grappler in the division. All kidding aside, he's won 2 in a row and his job is fairly secure. The utter lack of depth at heavyweight has me thinking he'll probably face someone like #10 ranked Stipe Miocic, which would theoretically be a major step down for Miocic, but much of the division is booked through the end of the year.
Matt Mitrione. I wouldn't be shocked if he was canned after last night's performance. This puts him at 1-3 in his last 4, and at 35 years old I think we know by now that Mitrione's ceiling is that of a low-level gatekeeper who beats guys who aren't cut out for the UFC and loses to anyone who is. At best (in terms of name value), he gets Brandon Vera, at worst he gets Nikita Krylov.
Francis Carmont. It looks like we'll have a new entrant into the middleweight top 10 on Monday after Carmont easily controlled Costa Philippou. He was rather fortunate to win against Lorenz Larkin and Tom Lawlor, but he left zero doubt last night and dominated a top 10 opponent. While it's natural to book winners against winners, I see Carmont, who is already a big middleweight, being matched up against Luke Rockhold.
Constantinos Philippou. That was the worst case scenario for Philippou, who was unable to implement his boxing, stuff any of Carmont's takedowns, or threaten off of his back. He might very well drop right out of the top 10 as a result. Based on who is available, I have him pegged for a bout with Yushin Okami, whose hopes of contending for a title got squashed by Jacare two weeks ago.
Khabib Nurmagomedov. He is just incredibly fun to watch. Yes, he's wild on the feet, but he's strong, fast, powerful, and an official contender in the lightweight division. Pair him up with Rafael dos Anjos, preferably on a Fox Sports 1 card.
Pat Healy. Technically Pat Healy is without a win in 3 UFC fights (L - Anthony Torres in 2006, NC vs. Jim Miller). It really wasn't a bad performance by Healy at all, in fact he was tagging Nurmagomedov in the 2nd round, but it's clear that Khabib was the better man. We haven't heard a peep about him since the T.J. Grant loss, but how about Healy vs. Matt Wiman?
More from Bloody Elbow:
- UFC 165 results: Post-fight interviews Jon Jones, Dana White, Gustafsson, Barao, highlights
- UFC 165 results: Alexander Gustafsson earned an immediate rematch with Jon Jones, will he get it?
- UFC 165 Jones vs. Gustafsson results: Kid Nate's bathrobe review
- UFC 165 Results Sunday Perspective: Jon Jones is the Greatest Light Heavyweight in MMA History
- UFC 165: Jones vs. Gustafsson - Winners and Losers