UFC Light Heavyweight champion Jon Jones will be defending his title against lanky Swede Alexander Gustafsson in the main event of UFC 165. But we're not here to talk about competition at that rarefied level. No we're diving down into the muck where guys who are truly UFC caliber fight to distinguish themselves from those who, though they may be wearing 4 oz. gloves branded UFC, are not truly UFC caliber athletes.
Lightweight John Makdessi vs. Renee Forte
I'd argue that Makdessi (11-2, 4-2 UFC) has already proven he's got the stuff with his last two wins over Sam Stout and Daron Cruickshank. Be that as it may the UFC has seen fit to match him against Ultimate Fighter Brazil contestant Renee Forte (8-2, 1-1 UFC).
Both men are in their athletic prime. Makdessi is 28 and Forte is 26. The tape says they're both 5'8" but I expect Forte to be looking down at Makdessi at the weigh-ins and in the Octagon. Forte, the former Welterweight, should have an advantage in body mass as well as length too. Makdessi has missed the LW limit of 155 once but he appears to have a frame that would be a better fit for Flyweight.
Stylistically this could be a bad matchup for Makdessi. The karate and taekwondo specialist can do some amazing things with kicks at range and he's dramatically improved his punching on the inside, but the ground remains his Achilles heel. Dennis Hallman blazed the trail to a quick submission win over Makdessi at UFC 140 and there's every reason to think that that remains the shortest path to beating "The Bull."
Forte has the tools to do it too. Provided he can get the fight to the ground, he should be able to impose stifling top control and unleash effective ground and pound. The problem is he's another Brazilian grappler with crappy take downs. He's dependent on getting the clinch up against the cage and then looking for the take down.
Watch for Makdessi to do everything in his power to keep his back off the cage. I expect him to light up Forte with side kicks at range and sharp punches on the inside early, then once Forte is tired and hurt to open up with the high kicking game and maybe even get the TKO.
Prediction: Makdessi by TKO in round 2 or 3.
Lightweight Jesse Ronson vs. Michel Prazeres
Prazeres (16-1, 0-1 UFC) is getting rewarded for stepping up against Paul Thiago on short-notice at UFC on FX: Belfort vs. Rockhold. Now he'll get to fight at his natural 155lb. weight class and against a UFC new-comer making his own short-notice UFC debut. Ronson (13-2, 0-0 UFC) is replacing the formidable Mark Bocek and Prazeres should be thanking his good fortune.
Prazeres looked like a minature Rousimar Palhares against Thiago: short, squatty and very very strong. Half of Prazares 16 wins came via submission From what we've seen of him I think he's more of a control-based grappler who will look for the submission as the culmination of a dominant performance on the ground, rather than a Palhares-style limb hunter looking for the quick sub.
The footage I've found on Ronson shows a fighter with decent striking and so-so wrestling. Look for Ronson to try for an early blitz to get the win before he gasses due to the lack of a training camp. Look for the experienced Prazeres to fend that off and work the take down to grind out the win.
Prediction: Prazeres by decision.
Bantamweight Roland Delorme vs. Alex Caceres
It ain't easy growing up in the spotlight as "Bruce Leroy" Caceres (8-5, 1 NC; 3-3, 1 NC UFC) can tell you. Only 22 when he made his appearance on The Ultimate Fighter, Cacares was a lightening rod for criticism for his loud mouth, flashy style and unpolished techniques. He held on to survive losing his first 2 UFC bouts and would have a nice three fight win streak going if a failed drug test for marijuana hadn't overturned his March win over Kyung Ho Kang.
The Canadian Delorme is a submission specialist (9-1, 1 NC; 3-0 1 NC UFC) and veteran of The Ultimate Fighter where he suffered the indignity of being the last man picked. He's survived in the UFC long enough to see most of those who beat him on the show cut from the promotion. Delorme's sole UFC loss to Francisco Rivera was overturned after Rivera failed a drug test. Delorme is one of those "pure grapplers" who's nonetheless got a couple of TKO wins on his resume.
Caceres is a dangerous grappler who can submit the unwary with ease. However, he also has some holes in his defensive game and against the skilled Delorme would be well-advised to try keeping the fight on the feet. Unfortunately Cacares' lack of power and predilection for flashy but high-risk moves limits his ability to win standing.
Look for Delorme to get the take down early and often and to control Caceres on the ground, surviving a couple of submission threats on the way to a decision win.
Prediction: Roland Delorme by decision.
Heavyweight Nandor Guelmino vs. Daniel Omielanczuk
I can hear you out there, saying "shut up about these TUF contestants Kid Nate, we're here to learn more about Nandor!"
Ok now it's time. The 37-year-old Guelmino (11-4-1, 0-0 UFC) is an utterly one-dimensional grappler who's not even well-rounded on the ground, ie. he's pretty bad off his back. At 6'3" and 230 pounds, Nandor at least looks like a fighter, but at his age and with his very limited skill set, he's mostly here to fulfil the contractual obligations Zuffa incurred when they booked him against Josh Barnett on short notice in Barnett's final Strikeforce bout.
The 31-year-old Omielanczuk (15-3, 0-0 UFC) should be able to capitalize on Nador's limitations but you never can tell about these European prospects making their Octagon debut. Danny O. is also primarily a grappler but his striking is somewhat better than Guelmino's and I think he had a substantial edge in the take down department.
Look for a quick finish in this one.
Prediction: Omielanczuk by submission.
More from Bloody Elbow:
- Perez vs. Figueroa, Herman vs. Natal added to UFC 167 in November
- Jon Jones dismissive of Glover Teixeira and Daniel Cormier as potential opponents
- Anthony Pettis: 'I expected Thomson would get the shot'
- 2013 FILA World Championships of Wrestling Day 2 Live Video Stream
- T.J. Grant won't be ready for December title shot, UFC going with Josh Thomson