jon-jones-alexander-gustafsson

On September 21st, the UFC 165 card features two championship fights and a number of contenders. Here’s a breakdown of what you’ll see, and where to watch it:

Championship Fights – Pay Per View

Light Heavyweight Champion – Jon Jones 
vs Alexander Gustafsson

Not only is this fight worth watching because it features one of the best pound-for-pound fighters in the world, Jon Jones, but also because this isn’t a “sure thing” defense for the champ. In his last five fights, Jones hasn’t been taken down. Not once. In each of those fights, he has landed twice as many strikes as each of his opponents – often having a ratio of 3:1.

Gustafsson lands significant strikes at a rate of nearly 4 per minute, getting knockdowns at a rate 50% higher than Shogun Rua, Lyoto Machida and Vitor Belfort. When compared to Chael Sonnen, the last challenger to face Jones, the lead in significant strikes landed per minute is nearly one full strike better… but Sonnen’s average knockdowns per 15 minutes? Nearly ZERO.

The takedown defense rate sported by Gustafsson is the best Jones has faced with the belt on the line, though some will question how capable Gustafsson will be at it, given Jones’ skill level.

renan-barao

Bantamweight Championship
Renan Barão (interim) vs. Eddie Wineland

This one’s not looking to be as close as the Jones / Gustafsson fight, but as there’s a title on the line (albeit an interim one), I’m still intrigued. Renen Barao sports an incredible record at 32-1-0, significantly better than Eddie Wineland’s 20-8-1 mark. Barao’s takedown defense is going to make it tough for Wineland to put him on the ground, but only 25% of Wineland’s wins are by submission, so he probably won’t be looking to end things that way.

In fact, given that he wins 50% of his fights by knockout, we’d be surprised if Wineland is looking for anything other than that. Wineland’s punching accuracy is less than the interim champ’s (34.8% to 28.7%), but Wineland attempts nearly an additional punch per minute than Barao (3.22 to 2.35), which weighs things a bit better in favor of a Wineland knockout.

Given Barao’s submission victory rate of nearly 50% and Wineland’s somewhat suspect takedown defense, it shouldn’t surprise anyone if Barao controls the fight and looks to make Wineland tap.

Other PPV Fights

Brendan Schaub vs Matt Mitrione

If you’re looking for a hard-hitting fight, this is the fight you’re going to want to watch. These heavyweights, with a combined 16 wins, don’t have a single submission victory between them, and only three of their combined victories  have been by decision.

Costa Philippou vs Francis Carmont

An impressive 12-2 record, Philippou seems to know how to win fights, be it by knockout (50% of his wins) or decision (42%). I’m very interested to see if Carmont, the more experienced fighter with 28 fights on his resume, can use his well-rounded skills (29% KO victories, 48% submission) to get the victory. If he wants to advance his career and become a contender, he’ll want to try to finish it before the judges get a chance to, because those odds don’t weigh nicely in his favor. He’s not great at takedowns and he throws far fewer punches per minute. Despite a serious advantage at striking accuracy (47.6% to 37.25%), Carmont still lands fewer strikes per minute.

Pat Healy vs Khabib Nurmagomedov

An undefeated guy who isn’t yet listed as a ranked challenger, fighting a guy with over 40 fights on his resume. That’s a “show me what you got” fight, to be sure. They’re almost the same in terms of strikes landed per minute and accuracy of strikes, but Khabib “The Eagle” has a significantly better striking defense than veteran “Bam Bam” Healy. The grappling advantage is clearly Khabib’s, with a takedown average twice that of his opponent, and nearly the same level of accuracy. Expect “The Eagle” to look good coming out of this fight, potentially adding positively to his record of 20-0.

Fox Sports 1 Prelims

Mike Ricci vs Myles Jury

Ivan Menjivar vs Wilson Reis

Chris Clements vs Stephen Thompson

Mitch Gagnon vs Dustin Kimura

Online Prelims

John Makdessi vs Renee Forte

Michel Prazeres vs Jesse Ronson

Roland Delorme vs Alex Caceres

Nandor Guelmino vs Daniel Omielanczuk