The Ultimate Fighting Championship will head back to Canada for the UFC 165 fight card which will be headlined by a light-heavyweight title showdown featuring current champ Jon "Bones" Jones and Swedish MMA star Alexander "The Mauler" Gustafsson.
Here are my predictions for the UFC 165 fight card set for Sept. 21, at the Air Canada Centre in Toronto, Canada:
Jon Jones vs. Alexander Gustafsson
Jones (18-1-0, 9 KOs) manhandled Chael Sonnen during his last outing, putting "The American Gangster" away via vicious elbows with 27 seconds left in the first round. The timing couldn't have been any better for Jones who suffered a nasty toe injury that probably would have forced the Octagon-side doctor to stop the bout during the break.
Gustafsson (15-1-0, 9 KOs) on the other hand wasn't particularly impressive during his last fight against Mauricio "Shogun" Rua, so it's hard to be optimistic about his chances against Jones.
Even though Gustafsson will be the first challenger who matches up well with Jones physically, it probably won't matter much during the fight.
Jones should have the advantage regardless of where the bout takes place, making this a rather easy fight for him on paper.
Prediction: Jones wins via TKO.
Renan Barão vs. Eddie Wineland
Barão (30-1-0, 14 submissions) will defend the Ultimate Fighting Championship's interim bantamweight title for the second time when he squares up against Wineland (20-8-1, 10 KOs) at UFC 165. Eddie is coming off consecutive wins -- an entertaining battle against Scott Jorgensen and a split decision victory against Brad Pickett -- but he typically struggles against top-of-the-food-chain fighters.
Barão is certainly that and a lot more, making this a tough matchup for Wineland.
Prediction: Barão wins via submission.
Brendan Schaub vs. Matt Mitrione
Both men have had their share of struggles recently, so motivation shouldn't be an issue for either man at UFC 165. Schaub (9-3-0, 7 KOs) is the more-rounded and experienced MMA fighter going into the bout, but his questionable chin evens things up given the fact Mitrione (6-2-0, 5 KOs) has displayed knockout power in the past.
Still, if Schaub follows an intelligent game plan which keeps the striking exchanges to a minimum, he should emerge victorious.
Prediction: Schaub wins via decision.
Costa Philippou vs. Francis Carmont
Philippou (12-2-0, 6 KOs) is currently on a five-fight win streak, racking up victories against the likes of Tim Boetsch and Court McGee.
Carmont (21-7-0, 10 submissions) remains undefeated in the Ultimate Fighting Championship, but he was less than stellar during a few of his fights. Carmont's grappling will probably be his biggest asset at UFC 165, but, unfortunately for him, Philippou is skilled enough to force a stand up battle and pick him apart.
Prediction: Philippou wins via TKO.
Pat Healy vs. Khabib Nurmagomedov
Khabib (20-0-0, 7 KOs) is one of the most impressive rising stars in the Ultimate Fighting Championship right now, but he'll be in for a serious step up in competition when he faces Healy at UFC 165. Healy (29-16-0, 15 submissions) looked solid during his last bout against Jim Miller, winning via submission, but a positive test for marijuana metabolites ended up costing him the victory, his win bonus, and the extra $130,000 he netted for winning the Submission of the Night and Fight of the Night awards.
It was a tough break for "Bam Bam", and I expect him to take out his frustration on Khabib at UFC 165.
Prediction: Healy wins via decision.
Mike Ricci defeats Myles Jury
Ivan Menjivar defeats Wilson Reis
Stephen Thompson defeats Chris Clements
Dustin Kimura defeats Mitch Gagnon
John Makdessi defeats Renee Forte
Jesse Ronson defeats Michel Prazeres
Roland Delorme defeats Alex Caceres
Daniel Omielańczuk defeats Nandor Guelmino