Tomorrow’s UFC 165 from Air Canada Centre features the rarely seen instance of two title fights on a card. Both of the champions defending their belts have looked to be the definition of dominant, as Jon Jones and Renan Barao hold only two losses combined on their MMA records. It’s going to be an uphill battle for both title challengers. Check out our LowKick staff predictions and let us know your thoughts on the fights.
Jon Jones vs. Alexander Gustafsson:
Mike Drahota: I just can’t give any credit to the pre-fight billing of Gustafsson being the bigger fighter here. Sure, he may be one inch taller, but ‘Bones’ still has a big reach advantage of six inches. The only place I see Gustafsson having a chance to finish this fight is on the feet if he can somehow get inside the champ’s range. If it goes to the ground, I don’t think Gustafsson will stand much of a chance. Jones has evolved to a new breed of fighter and his submission attempts will be too much to overcome. Gustafsson may have his day as champion, but that day won’t be UFC 165. Jones via submission round 2.
Rory Kernaghan: Jones vs. Gus for the LHW strap is a very hard match to call for me. Usually Jones' height and reach are too much for his undersized foes, but at UFC 165 he faces a guy that might be able to get around that. Gustafsson's rangy striking might be able to counter Jones' style. That being said, I think the reality of Jones' youth and ability is the deciding factor. Bones has too much in the bag against Gus, and I think it will show on the night. Look for Jones to wear Gus down, rock him with strikes and finish with a guillotine choke. Jones by submission in round 4.
Brian Cox: Regarding Jon Jones and Alexander Gustafsson, there’s probably not a great deal to say that hasn’t already been said a million times. Jones is the better, more well-rounded fighter, has beaten multiple former division champions and done so handily. Jones really has no holes in his game. That said, Gustafsson reminds a lot of fight fans of Jon Jones; he’s tall, lanky, has power and is quite dynamic. To say that “The Mauler” has no chance would be unfair. He could win the fight. However, he’s going to need to catch Jones with a punch to do it. Where I can see Jones ending the fight in a myriad of different ways, the only way I think Gustafsson can win is by KO or TKO. As much as I like and respect Gustafsson, and believe that he’s the future of the division, I’m going to have to pick Jon Jones to win the fight by TKO in the third round.
Renan Barao vs. Eddie Wineland:
Mike Drahota: Wineland is a super tough fighter who has overcome adversity in both his fighting career and real life. He has a ton of knockout power but he’ll be vastly outclassed by Barao when the fight hits the mat. If Wineland can get inside and land a power shot, he could pull off a huge upset. But I see that as his only chance to win, and Barao will keep him at bay with hi kicks. The champ’s dangerous Brazilian Jiu-jitsu pedigree will be on full display here. Wineland has by submission more than any other way, so I have to pick Barao by submission in round 2.
Rory Kernaghan: The bout between Eddie Wineland and Renan Barao for the interim Bantamweight belt should be a great scrap. Wineland is a heavy-handed finisher, while Barao is very fast and slick with submissions. Barao has a 30 fight win streak on the go at the minute, most recently submitting Michael MacDonald. Look for 'Baron' to continue his claim at the BW championship belt, and expect him to send a message to Dominick Cruz. Barao wins by submission (RNC) round 1.
Brian Cox: Barao vs. Wineland is a very interesting and competitive fight. As we all know, Renan Barao is a beast everywhere and particularly on the ground. He has every tool that a fighter could ask for and beyond that, he’s motivated to hold the belt, unify it in a bout with Cruz and get paid. He has every reason in the world and the talent, to win this fight. On the other hand Eddie Wineland is no joke either, is also very well-rounded, packs more power than Barao and is also heavily motivated to win the fight. I think this is a match that either fighter could win. However and because I like underdogs, I’m picking Eddie Wineland to win the match by KO in the second round.
Outer Photo: Brad Penner for USA TODAY Sports