Hier kommt Alex!
After cutting an unprecedented swath of destruction through the Light Heavyweight division, reigning champion Jon Jones faces perhaps his biggest challenge to date: 6'5" Swede Alexander Gustafsson, winner of six straight in Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC). The two will lock horns in the main event of UFC 165, which takes place this Saturday (Sept. 21, 2013) from Air Canada Centre in Toronto, Ontario, Canada.
In addition to the 205-pounds title, the interim Bantamweight belt will also be up for grabs as the owner of the longest unbeaten streak in mixed martial arts (MMA), Renan Barao, looks to quell the rise of inaugural World Extreme Cagefighting (WEC) champion Eddie Wineland.
On top of that, we've got eight "Prelims" under card matches to tide over combat sports fans until showtime. Previews and predictions of the first four, which you can catch online via Facebook and YouTube, are below.
Here we go:
155 lbs.: John Makdessi vs. Renee Forte
Consecutive losses to Dennis Hallman and Anthony Njokuani tempered the momentum of John Makdessi (11-2), but he’s proven he still belongs in the UFC, outclassing Sam Stout and Daron Cruickshank in his last two appearances. Previously, he had defeated Pat Audinwood by decision in his debut and wiped out Kyle Watson via spinning backfist his second time out.
In total, Makdessi has finished seven of his opponents by (technical) knockout.
The forgettable performance of Renee Forte (8-2) on The Ultimate Fighter (TUF): "Brazil" and loss to Sergio Moraes at UFC 153 made it seem like his career inside the Octagon was not long for this world. A drop to 155 pounds seemed to be just what the doctor ordered, however, as he smoked Terry Etim in a three-round beatdown his second time out.
Despite coming down from Welterweight, Forte is the same height as his Canadian foe.
Though not the knockout artist he seemed to be upon entering the UFC, Makdessi is still a headache for anyone who can’t consistently get inside his long-range strikes; Hallman blitzed him right off the bat and Njokuani, in addition to being a fantastic striker, is also significantly longer than "The Bull." Forte, while certainly a much better fighter than he appeared to be at welterweight, does not, in my opinion, have the aggressive takedown game to slow down Makdessi nor the striking acumen to get inside of his lead-leg strikes.
Forte would do well to impose his size on Makdessi, who I believe would be well-served by a drop to 145. Makdessi has demonstrated such an effective jab and control of range lately, though, that it is unlikely that Forte can overpower him. More likely, John picks him apart at long range, using distance and footwork to keep the fight standing for a decision win.
Prediction: Makdessi by unanimous decision
155 lbs.: Michel Prazeres vs. Jesse Ronson
Michel Prazeres (16-1), the man dubbed "Tractor," got the opportunity of a lifetime when Lance Benoist pulled out of his fight with Paulo Thiago on less than one month’s notice. Despite his best efforts, though, he was unable to top the Brazilian supercop, winning the opening round before slowing down for a decision loss.
This will be both his Lightweight debut and his first fight outside of his native Brazil.
Canada’s Jesse Ronson (13-2) got the call from Joe Silva just under a month ago, stepping in to replace countryman Mark Bocek. He will be riding an eight-fight winning streak, his last loss coming to Mike Ricci in 2011. Amusingly, three of Ronson’s last four fights came against opponents with the last names "St. Pierre," "Ricci" and "Healy," the latter the twin brother of the UFC’s Pat Healy.
Honestly, from what little I’ve seen of Ronson, I’m not impressed -- he’s a decent striker with okay wrestling, but not that fast or technical. He’s certainly not worthy of carrying Mike McCallum’s title of "The Body Snatcher."
Unless Prazeres is absolutely devastated by the weight cut, he shouldn’t have too much trouble.
"Tractor" is big, strong, and a very effective grinder. As long as his cardio holds up, I don’t see Ronson stopping his takedown assault. Look for Prazeres to disappoint the Canadian crowd, grinding out the hometown boy for 30-27s across the board.
Prediction: Prazeres by unanimous decision
135 lbs.: Roland Delorme vs. Alex Caceres
Though his brutal knockout loss to Francisco Rivera was overturned by the commission, Roland Delorme (9-1) still had something to prove against Edwin Figueroa this past June. Luckily, TUF 14 veteran rose to the occasion, surviving some hairy situations to pick up his third UFC victory.
The win was the first of Roland’s to go the distance, six of his other wins coming by submission.
Despite his impressive upset of Kyung Ho Kang in Saitama, Japan, Alex Caceres (8-5) was unable to enjoy it, getting popped for marijuana soon after and having the victory overturned. In any case, he is now unbeaten in three straight wins, with a highly questionable loss to Edwin Figueroa before that.
Like Delorme, Caceres excels on the mat, submitting four of his eight victims.
These two should match up well together. Caceres’ hyperactive grappling combined with Delorme’s takedown-heavy attack will theoretically produce some highly-entertaining exchanges. Honestly, this might be the fight I’m least confident in picking, but I think I’ll say Delorme.
Caceres still has one huge hole in his game: Takedown defense. Damacio Page took him down at will. Kang had a field day with his takedowns until he tired. And if there’s one thing Delorme has going for him is that he’ll be shooting as long as his legs are working.
Caceres’ best shot at victory is to maintain range such that he can see the takedowns coming; the problem is that he is not a powerful striker. Delorme, who is crazy-durable, should be capable of pressuring Alex enough to open up the takedowns.
We’ll probably get some nice scrambles and submission attempts out of this one ... expect Delorme to spend enough time on top to eke out a decision.
Prediction: Delorme by split decision
Nandor Guelmino (11-4-1) may have a physique and first name worthy of being followed by "The Barbarian," but they were little help against Josh Barnett, who manhandled "The Hun" for a submission win in little more than two minutes. Guelmino had previously won seven straight, five by finish, since getting knocked out by Andreas Kraniotakes in 2009.
He is six years older and three inches taller than his Polish foe.
Daniel Omielanczuk (15-3-1), whom I will refer to as either "Daniel," "Omi" or "Danny O." for the remainder of this article for the sake of my sanity, has been quite the busybody these last few years, fighting and winning eleven times since June of 2011, nine times in 2012 alone. In that time, he has won twice on the same night on two separate occasions in the Warrior’s Honor "Igor Vovchanchyn Cup."
Danny O., who has never been finished, has tapped out nine opponents, including eight of his last 10.
I like to be coy and poetic when I’m insulting fighters’ abilities, but I feel like being blunt this time: Guelmino is terrible. I mean really bad. He’s an okay grappler with pretty much no stand up skills and extremely poor wrestling. At least Danny O. has some hard kicks and a decent takedown game to his credit.
The one upside to this fight is that it probably won’t last long enough to turn into Soa Palelei vs. Nikita Krylov 2 -- as soon as Daniel wants the takedown, he’s got it. From there, Guelmino is zero threat off his back, so it just boils down to whether Omi wants to pound him out or take a limb home with him.
Let’s go with the latter.
Prediction: Omielanczuk by first-round submission
Same time tomorrow, we'll have four more "Prelims" previews that will air on FOX Sports 1 fresh out of the oven.
See you then, Maniacs.
Remember that MMAmania.com will provide LIVE round-by-round, blow-by-blow coverage of the entire UFC 165 event on fight night, starting with the Facebook "Prelims," which are scheduled to begin at 6 p.m. ET, right on through the FOX Sports 1-televised under card bouts at 8 p.m. ET and then main card PPV action, which is slated to begin at 10 p.m. ET.