UFC 165 had its share of entertaining bouts, but Alexander Gustafsson and Jon Jones stole the show during the main event, putting on an instant classic MMA fans won’t forget anytime soon.
As with all fight cards, some combatants used the opportunity to propel themselves up their respective division’s rankings, while others struggled under the bright lights of the Ultimate Fighting Championship’s Octagon.
Here are the biggest winners and losers from UFC 165:
1. Alexander Gustafsson and Jon Jones
Gustafsson almost shocked the world at UFC 165, surprisingly, stuffing most of Jones’ takedown attempts with ease, putting “Bones” on his backside a couple of times during the first two rounds of their championship tilt. Gustafsson was just as impressive striking wise early in the fight, using his boxing to set up several decent combinations.
Unfortunately for Alexander, Jones (who was down a round heading into the fourth on my scorecard) managed to turn things around during the championship’s final two rounds, and he was rewarded with the unanimous decision afterwards.
It was certainly Jones’ toughest test to date, but the 26 year old proved his heart is as big as that of any other champion out there, surviving a couple of rather disappointing rounds, while his face turned into a bloody mess.
It was an excellent showing by both men which earned Fight of the Night honors, and I for one can’t wait to see these two warriors go at it again.
2. Khabib Nurmagomedov
Khabib had his first taste of elite level competition at UFC 165 and he passed the test in flying colors. He landed many hard shots on his opponent, Jim Miller, and he proved to be the better grappler. Nurmagomedov even awed fans with a massive Matt Hughes style slam during the final round, making it clear he’s ready to start squaring up against title contenders.
3. Mitch Gagnon
Gagnon didn’t look like a man who was coming off a one-year layoff at UFC 165, and he didn’t fight like the underdog either, taking the fight to the then undefeated Dustin Kimura. He broke the Hawaiian down with hard shots to the head and body, then jumped all over a guillotine choke when the opportunity presented itself, bringing the fight to an end late in the first round. The impressive performance earned him the Submission of the Night award and a bunch of new fans.
Notable Mentions: Renan Barão, Francis Carmont, Alex Caceres, John Makdessi, and Brendan Schaub.
1. Costa Philippou
Costa didn’t look like his normal self at UFC 165, never really getting much going during his bout against Carmont. His normally effective takedown defense was non-existent at UFC 165, and he didn’t fare any better striking wise. With the loss, Philippou goes back to being just another guy on the UFC’s middleweight roster.
2. Ivan Menjivar
Menjivar got off to a decent start at UFC 165, but he didn’t have any answers for Wilson Reis’ BJJ once the Brazilian switched to a grappling-heavy style during the second round. Menjivar spent the majority of the next two rounds on his back, and that ended up costing him the decision as all three judges scored the fight 29-28 in Wilson’s favor. With the loss, Ivan has now lost three of his last four fights, meaning he’s now approaching dangerous territory as far as his job security is concerned.