Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) returned to Toronto, Canada, last night (Sept. 21, 2013) with UFC 165 live from Air Canada Centre. The night was capped off with an incredible title fight between Jon Jones and Alexander Gustafsson, a bout that many people have called one of the best fights of all time.
There was also Renan Barao successfully defending the UFC's interim Bantamweight belt against former World Extreme Cagefighting (WEC) champion, Eddie Wineland in the co-main event. Barao landed a spectacular spinning back kick to the face before finishing the challenger with punches on the ground for the referee stoppage.
Despite its slow start, UFC 165 delivered in the biggest way possible. I'm still hyped on the action so let's talk aboutit.
So, About Last Night ...
Jon Jones is finally human and that's what's best for business
It's easy to get bored of watching championship bouts when there just isn't any conceivable way the opposition can actually win. This has been the case with Jones since he won the strap in a dominant performance against Mauricio Rua way back at UFC 128.
Last night we finally saw that not only is Jon Jones human, he's vulnerable when he isn't the hammer. And that actually makes me more interested in seeing him fight again. One of my biggest doubts about Jones has always been his desire to be a champion. Sure, he's said he wants to be the greatest of all time and hold on to the belt.
That's not what I'm talking about. I mean that when push comes to shove, I didn't know if he had it in him to actually push through adversity to find a way to win. Last night he showed the heart of a champion. I'm 100% on board now.
Alexander Gustafsson was willing to die on that treadmill
Alexander Gustafsson proved every doubter wrong who thought he'd get trucked by Jon Jones by bringing the champ to his breaking point. For five rounds, he defended takedown after takedown and busted up Jones with precision strikes to the face and body.
For a moment, it looked like he was on his way to being crowned the new king of the light heavyweight division. I was thinking about headlines as the fight was going on and the one I settled on was, "the King is dead. Long live the King." It just seemed fitting.
While he didn't leave the Air Canada Centre with the belt, he left with something even greater: the knowledge that he can beat Jon Jones on any given night. Judging by what Dana White said at the post-fight presser, it's pretty clear we're getting a rematch. In the words of Bart Scott: CAN'T WAIT.
People need to learn what "robbery" means
One thing that really grinds my gears in combat sports is the overuse of the term "robbery." It gets thrown around way too much whenever there is a close or somewhat controversial decision. Because of the visceral nature of mixed martial arts (MMA), it's very easy to allow emotion to cloud judgement when watching a fight.
Last night was not a robbery. It was a close and hard fought decision between two incredibly tough athletes who left everything they had in the Octagon. They don't deserve fans and media mucking up the story that they told in that cage last night.
Renan Barao is clearly the best bantamweight in the world
Is there any question who the top guy in the division is? Even when UFC Bantamweight champion Dominick Cruz returns from his injury that has kept him on the sidelines for over two years, it's pretty clear Barao is just the top dog in the yard while Cruz is the just the guy holding the belt.
Watching Barao fight is a gift that we should be thankful for. The way that he is able to land pinpoint accurate strikes with power is scary. And he's getting better with every single outing. The spinning back kick knockout is a clear Knockout of the Year candidate and he's making a case for Fighter of the Year honors as well.
- It's pretty clear to me that Khabib Nurmagomedov is the future of the lightweight division. Pat Healy is no joke and Khabib made it look easy. He straight up Matt Hughes'd the dude. I'm not sure what his ceiling is, but I'm excited to see him get there.
- Brendan Schaub looked good on the ground. He needed to after that awful appearance at the Metamoris event where he literally ran away from Cyborg Abreu. With there being so many questions about his chin, it may be in his best interest to keep fighting on the ground. It's his best asset.
- Francis Carmont and Constantinos Philippou? Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzz
- Myles Jury and Mike Ricci? Zzzzzzzzzzzzzz
- Dear Stephen Thompson, what is the secret of your power?
- Was there a four-man Heavyweight tournament between Soa Palelei, Nikita Krylov, Nandor Guelmino, and Daniel Omielanczuk that I was not aware of? Because holy crap that's two heavyweight bouts that ended in a gassed technical knockout. Which of these men is the best worst in shape Heavyweight on the planet?
- It's a shame that this even had to come a week after the Saul 'Canelo' Alvarez and Floyd Mayweather fight. I just think it suffered from a lack of overall interest. Here we had arguably the best fighter on the planet facing his tallest opponent and the overall attitude leading up was "meh". Not a huge deal because there will be a ton of excitement for the eventual rematch between Jones and Gustafsson.