After winning five fights in a row there was a growing buzz surrounding the possibility of Philippou earning a title-shot if able to string together two more triumphs. UFC 165 opponent Francis Carmont quickly muffled the murmur with a one-sided drumming where he repeatedly took Philippou down with relative ease. Granted, Philippou hadn’t fought since late December, but ring rust was no excuse given the way things unfolded. Nurmagomedov’s talent was no secret based on his success against opponents like Gleison Tibau and Thiago Tavares. However, until he crossed paths with Pat Healy he hadn’t faced an opponent with a legitimate claim to Top 10 status. Healy had won six straight fights entering the effort and also had a finish of Jim Miller under his belt before a failed drug test for marijuana use erased the result. Tack on past wins over opponents like Paul Daley, Dan Hardy and Carlos Condit, and it was clear Nurmagomedov would have his hands full in the fight. However, the undefeated Russian shined from start to finish and even delivered a powerful slam straight out of Matt Hughes’ playbook en route to a decision win. Barao was a clear favorite entering his title-fight with Eddie Wineland, so his win wasn’t necessarily noteworthy in that regard. However, the manner in which he secured his success was another story entirely. Barao blasted Wineland with a spinning kick to the face sending his foe to the mat. Seconds later the Brazilian had earned the second defense of his reign as interim champion. He looked sharp in every regard and putting a seasoned striker like Wineland away while standing, especially with the technique he used, is a feat worth admiring. Gustafsson had plenty of hype going into his attempt at dethroning light heavyweight king Jon Jones after stringing together six instances of success including victories over Thiago Silva, Matt Hamill, James Te Huna, and Mauricio Rua. Still, few people picked him to beat “Bones”. That will change if/when the two face off again based on Gustafsson’s showing in the evening’s main event. He teed off at times on Jones’ face, badly damaging the champion’s mug, and would have apparently ended up winning due to a cut-based stoppage if referee John McCarthy hadn’t helped convince the ringside doctor Jones was okay to continue. It may not come until Jones moves up until heavyweight, but Gustafsson seems destined to hold UFC gold based on not only his previous efforts but his performance in Toronto against the greatest 205-pound champ in the promotion’s history. Jones’ refusal to tap to Vitor Belfort’s Armbar attempt in 2012 was the first time fans came to realize the 26-year old had a huge amount of heart. Jones built up his reputation even more over the weekend by battling through a ton of adversity to come out on top. He lost the opening round against Gustafsson, struggled to secure takedowns, and absorbed a number of stiff shots. Still, he never gave up and fought to the bloody end, doing enough over the final two rounds of the rumble to earn a Unanimous Decision victory.
Every time a Mixed Martial Artist enters the Octagon a learning experience is about to unfold. Not only do the involved individuals gain a certain level of knowledge based on the bout, but those watching the action exit the effort with a new understanding of what each fighter has to offer.
was no different in that regard with plenty of information being dispatched, some of it eye-opening and some simply affirmation of already-established assertions. (Photos by USA Today Sports Images) UFC 165