UFC 165 is slated for Saturday night in Toronto, Canada, and while the main event will see superstar light-heavyweight Jon Jones defend his belt against tall glass of water Alexander Gustafsson, there’s a very respectable prelim card on tap. Here’s a breakdown of it.
Nandor Guelmino vs. Daniel Omielanczuk
To start off the early prelims is a heavyweight tilt that features two debuting heavyweights. The Austrian, Guelmino, is a well-rounded fighter with an extensive Taekwondo background. Surprisingly enough, he has the majority of his wins by submission, so I think it’s fair to say he’s well-versed. Omielanczuk, the Polish fighter, is quite more specialized. He is a submission specialist who is very highly touted as being one of the best heavyweight grapplers to come out of Europe. This is an interesting bout as both of these guys have a lot of potential, and both could possibly be huge stars in their respected foreign countries.
Stylistically, it’s hard to count out the guy with more weapons. Yes, Daniel is a specialist and is most likely going to want to take this fight to the ground, but Guelmino has the edge in the striking and I think that’s going to be huge. Both are fairly lighter heavyweights, so don’t expect your typical brawling slop-fest as heavier guys tend to gas quicker than the lighter 220-240lbs heavyweights, which is what these guys are. I think this fight will come down to Guelmino’s movement, and being that he’s the lighter guy with an extensive martial arts background, he’ll get his feet and movement going so he can avoid takedowns, and eventually score a finish over Omielanczuk.
Nandor Guelmino via 1st Rd TKO
Roland Delorme vs. Alex Caceres
In the bantamweight division, an intriguing bout between Delorme and Caceres is to follow. Delorme has yet to taste an actual defeat in the Octagon despite being KO’d by Francisco Rivera – the bout was changed to a No Contest after Francisco failed his drug test. With that said, Delorme is 3-0-1 in the UFC and looks to be a bright contender in the bantamweight division. His opponent, the might entertaining Alex Caceres will look to play the role of the spoiler. Caceres started off rough in the UFC before he finally found his groove when he submitted the ultra-experienced Damacio Page back in 2012. Since then, he’s gone 1-0-1 as he too failed his drug test when he edged out Kyung Ho Kang. Now, he looks to get back with an official win.
Both of these guys prioritize their skills as being on the ground. They’re both very fast-paced and impressive fighters who can pull out submissions like its nothing. However, it’s very possible that their ground games will cancel eachother out there. Don’t expect a submission unless someone makes a huge mistake, or someone gets rocked on the feet. Striking is exactly where Caceres has the advantage, as Delorme’s striking isn’t quite at the level to put up with Alex’s unorthodox style. I’ll Caceres in a unanimous decision as he uses his striking to edge Delorme on points despite possibly being hindered in the ground attack.
Alex Caceres via Unanimous Decision
Michel dos Prazeres vs. Jesse Ronson
To follow up the bantamweights is a lightweight bout between 1-time UFC veteran Michel dos Prazeres and the debuting fighter out of Canada, Jesse Ronson. Dos Prazeres was thrown to the wolves in his debut as he fell short of a decision to Paulo Thiago. Dos Prazeres was out-grappled by the superior fighter, but Michel himself is known for his grappling skills. Oddly enough, Dos Prazeres’ striking looked to be his most promising weapon in that bout. Against his opponent Jesse Ronson, the stand-up approach may not be his best bet. Jesse has knock-out power in his hands and some solid wrestling to go along with it.
Michel’s first bout in the UFC will play off big for him here as he’s “been there done that” when it comes to Octagon jitters and experience the spotlight for the first time. The same cannot be said for Ronson who has yet to experience a major promotion. Expect dos Prazeres to be a little more comfortable in there, and finally get to show off his talented grappling skills as he uses his kicks to open up clinches. From the clinch, some crafty grappling should ensue to get Ronson to the mat. Being cautious of Ronson’s power, dos Prazeres should be able to edge a decision with his offensive grappling and top control.
Michel dos Prazeres via Unanimous Decision
John Makdessi vs. Renee Forte
Also in the lightweight division, talented prospects John Makdessi and Renee Forte will square off in what should be a fairly entertaining bout. Both fighters are coming off of promising victories: Forte in an upset decision over Terry Etim, and Makdessi in a derailment of Daron Cruickshank. This is a match between two guys with very different styles, so that really adds interest to this bout that will headline the early prelims on Facebook/YouTube.
Makdessi is widely known for his Shotokan-karate and Taekwondo styled striking which he uses to precisely out-strike his opponents. A variety of techniques are at Makdessi’s disposal, most notably his spinning back kick that he uses quite frequently. Against Forte however, he’ll have to resort to more punching-based attack as Renee will be pressing forward looking for the takedown. Forte is a bully, which means he uses aggression and volume striking to make his opponents uncomfortable, back right into the cage, and allow him to tie-up. Renee isn’t known for being a finisher, so don’t expect any real attempts to finish the fight to be made by Forte. This will allow to Makdessi get a little more comfortable, and as long as Makdessi can use his sharp jab, expect Makdessi to have a field day on the feet. While John is a short fighter, Forte doesn’t offer much of anything in length either, so this should prompt Makdessi to be more inclined in exchanging. Some solid takedown defense by Makdessi will help him keep this fight in his realm, and precise striking will carry him to the decision win.
John Makdessi via Unanimous Decision
Mitch Gagnon vs. Dustin Kimura
Back at 135lbs, we’re met with another exciting bout between two highly entertaining grapplers. Gagnon, who is 1-1 in the UFC, is coming off of big win as he submitted Walel Watson by rear-naked choke. Gagnon has won every way by submission, and has only been finished once in his career – which happened to be his UFC debut against Bryan Caraway. His opponent, the young and talented Dustin Kimura, earned a bit of stock in his third round submission over Chico Camus. Kimura displayed a highly aggressive grappling style, and made himself out to be a potential contender in the near future.
Because both Gagnon and Kimura are grapplers, the MMA logic is to assume this fight will come down to the striking. Unfortunately, neither fighter has produced much striking skills in the past, so it’s hard to tell who will have the advantage in this fight. What I do know is that Gagnon is most likely the best grappler Kimura has faced, so that could come as a shock to him. Expect a very close bout in this one as they both seem to be very evenly matched. Maybe a striking edge to Kimura with his 3” reach advantage, but the ground game will really be a toss up. Kimura is offensive off his back but Gagnon has shown the better takedowns. I’m going to side with Gagnon as he takes the home-town vote in a close decision win.
Mitch Gagnon via Split Decision
Chris Clements vs. Stephen Thompson
Two welterweight sluggers will meet in this bout as the 1-0-1 Chris Clements battles the 2-1 Stephen Thompson. Clements is an aggressive striker who likes to push the pace and get in his opponents face with his powerful punches. While his aggression has cost him in the past, it was the superior strength disadvantage to Matthew Riddle that lost the bout for him. Riddle was able to out-muscle Clements in the clinch, and eventually score a beautiful arm-triangle choke stoppage. Unfortunately, Riddle failed his drug test and that loss would be turned to a no-contest. On the other side, “Wonderboy” Stephen Thompson battles to get his name back in the discussion. Ever since Thompson’s KO over Daniel Stittgen in his UFC debut, Thompson has had his name spoken. Unfortunately a pre-mature contender match up against Matt Brown left him with a decision loss, he followed it up well when he out-pointed Nah-Shon Burrell.
In this bout, it’s really going to come down to Thompson’s ability to counter. With an extensive kickboxing back ground and some solid counters displayed in the past, I believe Thompson should be able to move backwards and out-strike Clements. Because Chris has a habit of pushing forward to much, look for Stephen to take advantage of that and light him up for a third round stoppage. Clements will have to take some punishment in the early going, but will find some punches to land home. Unfortunately, Thompson is extremely experienced and will act accordingly to ensure he takes out Clements.
Stephen Thompson via 3rd Rd TKO
Ivan Menjivar vs. Wilson Reis
Now we’re back to bantamweight action for a high-octane bout between two future contenders. Bellator veteran and contender Wilson Reis will be making his UFC debut against Ivan Menjivar, a proven contender in multiple divisions. This bout has fireworks written all over it, so expect this one to be a real flurry.
Menjivar is an aggressive beast in the cage and puts together unique combinations to batter his opponents. He utilizes every limb on his body to deal damage, but is a proven finisher when it comes to the ground. Unfortunately, don’t expect Menjivar to be as successful on the mat as he was against Azamat Gashimov when he takes on Wilson Reis. Reis is a submission specialist, and a blackbelt under Roberto Godoi. He’s won numerous grappling tournaments, and is highly regarded as being one of the best when the battle hits the mat. However, will he be able to handle Menjivar’s intensity on the feet? Expect Menjivar to come out and really look to do damage early, he may have to stuff some takedown attempts, but ultimately I see Ivan bringing the pain and scoring a first round finish.
Ivan Menjivar via 1st Rd TKO
Myles Jury vs. Mike Ricci
TUF 16 finalist Mike Ricci will return to the Octagon against TUF 15 competitor Myles Jury. While Ricci definitely had more success in the house than Jury did, it’s Jury that has been able to follow up with more impressive performances in the Octagon. Jury is 3-0 in the UFC, showing a large variety of skills both on the ground, and on the feet. Ricci has also improved leaps and bounds in his following performances. While he was grounded out by Colton Smith in the finale, he jumped back with a decision victory over Colin Fletcher. Ricci showed some solid striking, but largely dominated the fight on the ground in top position.
When looking at Jury’s record, I’m sure you’ll be stunned to see his finish rate. With a 12-0 record, he has only gone the distance once – that being to Michael Johnson in his second outing in the UFC. Jury is by far the more impressive fighter in this match-up, and I think it will be clear when he meets Ricci. Jury is just on another level when it comes to game-planning, but if Colton Smith was able to grind out Ricci, then Jury will more than be able to. In fact, I’m going to bank on a late submission victory for Jury as he grinds out, beats down, and ultimately submits Ricci in the third.
Myles Jury via 3rd Rd Submission