Jon 'Bones' Jones vs. Alexander Gustafsson UFC 165 live blog
Welcome to SI.com's live play-by-play blog for UFC 165: Jones vs. Gustafsson, which was held at the Air Canada Centre in Toronto. What follows is our round-by-round commentary of the bouts on the PPV telecast and a wrapup of the other undercard events..
UFC Light Heavyweight Championship: Jon Jones vs. Alexander Gustafsson
11:59 p.m. -- Two and a half years into his title reign, Jones (18-1) has the chance to set the record tonight for consecutive title defenses in the 205-pound division (he's currently tied at five with Tito Ortiz). We all know Jones' strengths at this point. Can fight pretty much from everywhere, but his lanky stature has given him advantages on the outside in past fights. The UFC has used this as their angle to promote this bout. Gustafsson (15-1) is reportedly one inch taller than Jones at 6'5. Yup, that's what the UFC is touting as the way Gustafsson can beat Jones. Let's ignore that Jones' reach is at least six inches greater than the Swede's.
Midnight -- Gustafsson enters first, Jones follows, wearing a Nike shirt that reads, "Not quite human."
12:02 a.m. -- Gustafsson is an interesting striker, a little stiff, but nowhere near Jones' level, in my opinion. Still, he's earned his shot and will get his chance.
12:04 a.m. -- Jones dons the Gatorade sponsorship on his black trunks, though this new relationship caused some angst this week when ESPN's Darren Rovell reported that Jones would get no compensation for it. Rovell later adjusted his reporting to say that Jones was getting "some compensation," whatever that means. A year's supply of Gatorade. I'd take it if it were lemon-lime.
Bruce Buffering nearly blowing his head off (nod to those ridiculous commercials) introducing the fighters. Crowd has finally come to life. Our referee is "Big" John McCarthy.
Round 1: Jones' with a spinning back kick, then another 30 seconds later. Jones on outside. Lands low kick. Gust lands a left jab. Gust staying active with kick attempts. This is starting to become a technical stalking on both ends. Jones tries to clinch and Gust nearly lands his right. Gust gets another single left in. Bones with another back kick.
Gust tags Jones again. Jones is cut over right eye. This is a fight. Jones blocks Gust's back kick with his own leg. Gust latches onto Jones and scores a BIG slam. Jones back to his feet, but the crowd is on fire. Jones doesn't get taken down - EVER. This is the first time. Jones pushes Gust to fence, but it's stopped, as ref sees an eye poke on Gust. No deduction and it re-starts. Jones finishes strong with his first elbow on fence, but Gust will probably take this round. Gust 10-9.
Round 2: Jones' cut is big enough, but not major, at least not at this point. Look for Gust to try to rip that open. Gust catches Jones' kick and sweeps him 30 seconds in. Jones up and clinches. Gust fends him off. He wants to keep striking. Jones has center canvas. Gust with an overhand right that misses, but a follow-up left that lands on Jones' chin. Jones looks a little worried. He can't figure Gust out. Jones with a missed spinning back kick. Jones connects with left high kick. Gust absorbs it. 2:00 to go. Gust is bold. He's in it to win it. Continually throwing with mixed success. Gust catches Jones' kick and Jones does an aerial back roll to escape it. Gust shrugs off another TD attempt. Gust with the left jab. Jones with another high kick that catches a little. Jones has to back out. Jones' mouth is open. Very close round. 10-10/ Gust 20-19.
Round 3: Jones looks weary. I'm not going to lie. Like doubt is starting to creep in. Gust with a big combo 20 seconds in. They continue to trade low kicks. Jones likes that spinning back kick, but Gust seems to anticipate it. Gust shrugs off another TD. Jones with high kick, Gust counters with an uppercut that lands. Gust with another right and Jones answers with a kick. Gust with an uppercut and a right. Combos are working. 1:20 to go. Jones now trying to close distance, force a clinch. Not happening. More kicks. Jones with a hard body kick and Gust stumbles slightly as he circles out. Jones mixing up stances. Jones stuffs Gust's TD attempt. :30 to go. Jones' in with a spinning back elbow that lands. Gust off the fence and out of danger again. Another very close round, but I think Jones' ekes it out. 10-9. Jones mousing slightly over left eye. Championship rounds, folks.
Round 4: I believe this is the second time Jones' has been taken into the fourth round. Last was Vitor Belfort, who he submitted. Gust is trying to land the big punch, but Jones is handling things for the moment. Gust throwing more, but Jones connecting with low leg kicks. Gust with another jab. Jones tries to shoot, but Gust avoids easily. Gust with a left. Then another. Then a right. Jones clinches, has Gust on fence. Gust is off fence and nearly collides with McCarthy. Jones is now the stalker, His eye is getting pretty messed up, blood trickling into his right eye. :50 to go. Jones with a failed spinning elbow. Then he lands again. Has Gust on the fence. First time he looks in trouble. Gust is cut. Back to center, Jones with a flying knee. Bell. Crowd explodes. Jones 10-9.
In his corner Gust is bleeding well from his scalp. Jones got him with that spinning back elbow, then follow-up knees. Jones' eyes are gobbed with Vaseline.
Round 5: Jones with solid body kick. Gust fends off another clinch. Gust with two uppercuts. Good follow-up left from Jones. Jones with a straight elbow. Gust tries for a single-leg. Fended off fast. Jones' face is swollen. Jones with a crucial takedown. Gust scooting back to cage, up fast. Jones lets him go and we're back to center. 2:30 to go. Jones with left. Gust is suddently exhausted, hands on hips! Gust suddenly looks in trouble, but manages to throw off a spinning back fist that misses. Jones lips are swollen bad. He's busted up. Final minute. Insane fight. Gust with another TD attempt. Jones with head kick. Blocked. Gust with missed uppercut. Jones spinning elbow, clinches Gust for final seconds. Bell. Insanity.
I'll give Jones that final round with a close 10-9. I have it a tie 48-48. Correction: 49-47 Jones.
I have a feeling we won't get that from the judges. Pretty much any call is acceptable here. It was that close. Gust had Jones' number. Waiting on scores. Official - Jon Jones def. Alexander Gustafsson - Unanimous Decision (48-47, 48-47, 49-46).
Jones: "I've been asking for that dog fight for a while and that's what I got tonight. A dog fight. Tonight was such a blessing.. by far my toughest fight." Jones: "I felt sloppy tonight, but I got to flex my warrior spirit." Jones thanks crowd and gets a mixed reaction from them.
Gust also gets a post-fight interview. "It's just an honor to fight Jon. There's a reason he's the champion... I am just starting my career and I will come back stronger."
Jones and Gust meet center cage and converse. Jones has a piece of gauze hanging from his right eye. They shake hands and Gust walks away. Camera follows Jones out of Octagon, who's limping bad and has to be held up by two cornermen at first.
12:47 a.m. -- UFC 165 Crib Notes: Main event earned the price of admission. Jon Jones has never been pushed this much. A war at times, a tactical chess match in other moments. If Gust can stay on track, the rematch will be something the UFC can get behind. Other standouts tonight: Khabib Nurmagomedov showed some grit and a little more versatility tonight with a relentless Healy. Schaub and Barao were solid in their finishes and should win Sub and KO of the Night awards for their efforts. Jones-Gustafsson has to get Fight of the Night. No other choice. Francis Carmont was a surprise against Philippou, who was predicted to plow over him with his power striking. Carmont's keen takedowns made the difference en route to his decision win.
Interim Bantamweight Championship: Renan Barao vs. Eddie Wineland
Co-main event time. Interim bantamweight champion Renan Barao defends against Eddie Wineland.
Being honest, this is a holdover fight as we wait for bantamweight champ Dominick Cruz to return to action. Cruz hasn't fought since October 2011, the victim of numerous unsuccessful knee surgeries. UFC President Dana White has refused to strip Cruz, but finally in a corner, said Cruz will have to face tonight's winner or be stripped in 2014.
Eddie Wineland was the WEC's first bantamweight champion, right when the division was introduced on cable television a few years ago. He enters first. Wineland has struggled against top-shelf talent, like Urijah Faber and Jospeh Benavidez, but does well with mid-level guys. Wineland is 20-8-1, having taken out Brad Pickett last December.
Interim champ Renan Barao snakes his way to the Octagon, a snappy Brazilian beat to guide him. Barao (30-1, 1 NC) earned the title with a fourth-round submission against Michael McDonald last February. This was after he pretty much cleaned out the division. Having not lost in eight years, Barao has more tools for victory tonight and is the clear favorite.
Our referee is Yves Lavigne.
Round 1: Brief touch of gloves and we're off. Barao on outside; Wineland feeling things out from center. One minute in and Wineland lands first substantial punch, a counter. Barao absorbs it well. Wineland gets another shot in and Barao tries to engage the takedown. Wineland reverses him on fence and they stall. Referee Lavigne re-starts them from center. Barao kick catches on Wineland's shoulder and he shrugs Brazilian down to ground. Barao regains his feet before Wineland can capitalize. Both throwing here and there, but Wineland is connecting just a bit more. His punches seem harder, too. Wineland stuffs a takedown. :45 to go. Sporadic punches as Barao tries to find his distance. He starts to land a little more, but Wineland will take this first round. Wineland 10-9.
In Barao's corner, coach Andre Pederneiras says it was a close round. Not that close in my opinion, though Barao should come out stronger for round two.
Round 2: Wineland claims center canvas. Wineland with a jab-right-body combo. Looking good. A sudden spinning back kick from Barao and Wineland goes down, stunned. Barao is on a turtled Wineland, but doesn't need to do much more than two punches. Wineland is out of it and referee Lavigne jumps in. Quick turn of the tide.
Official: Renan Barao def. Eddie Wineland -- TKO Referee Stoppage (Spinning Back-Kick) :35 R2.
In his post-fight interview, Barao says he'll wait for Cruz. Him and the rest of us.
Brendan Schaub vs. Matt Mitrione, heavyweight
Up next: Heavyweights Brendan Schaub and Matt Mitrione meet in probably the second most-anticipated fight on the card (sorry Barao-Wineland). Depending on performance, the winner of this bout could gain some serious footing in the more recognized division.
Schaub (9-3) was originally slated to meet Mitrione at UFC on Fox 8 in July, but Mitrione withdrew from the bout with an undisclosed injury. Schaub's last Octagon appearance was a unanimous decision win over Lavar Johnson, who tested positive for elevated testosterone levels shortly afterward. Still, the win halted a two-fight slide for Schaub, who'd been knocked out by Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira and Ben Rothwell.
Mitrione (6-2) got into some hot water in April for his transphobic comments about Fallon Fox. The UFC suspended Mitrione for all of two weeks, but I digress. The 35-year-old scored a 19-second knockout over the not-so-talented Phil DeFries in April, a clear rebound gift for the natural striker. Before that, Mitrione had back-to-back losses, himself, to Roy Nelson and Cheick Kongo.
Schaub and Mitrione are friends and former training partners. Schuab is probably more well-rounded, but Mitrione has the power. I'm taking Mitrione in a mild upset.
11:15 p.m. -- Mitrione takes the cage first; Chris Lytle flanks his corner.
Schaub enters next, his BJJ purple belt hanging on his neck. Schaub is on a real BJJ kick right now, training with numerous Gracies in L.A. Displaced NFLer Tim Tebow has joined them in the past. Schaub does two cartwheels in the cage, I assume to stay loose. In case you're wondering, Tebow is NOT in Schaub's corner.
Round 1: No glove touch and we're off. Schaub on outside and lands first punch, a graze. There could have been a head butt here early. Both are cut -- Schaub near his hairline, Mitrione from corner of his left eye. Both are in pocket, landing a punch here, a low kick there. Pretty tentative so far. Schaub suddenly explodes with a forward-moving attack. We see Mitrione smile before he's scooped up and grounded. Schaub in half guard. Schaub manuevers to a D'Arce from side control. Mitrione is trapped and goes to sleep. Referee stoppage.
Mitrione went out fast. Schaub set up the sub as Mitrione got to his knees in an attempted escape.
Official: Brendan Schaub def. Matt Mitrione - TKO Referee Stoppage (D'Arce Choke) 4:06 R1.
Costas Philippou vs. Francis Carmont, middleweight
On deck next is Costas Philippou vs. Francis Carmont. On a five-fight win streak, Philippou (12-2, 1 NC) probably dodged a bullet in May, when he withdrew from a proposed bout with Jacare Souza due to a cut over his eye. Philippou had some momentum going with wins over Court McGee, Riki Fukuda and Tim Boestch, who Philippou took out with third-round punches. He should fair well against Carmont tonight.
Carmont, a product of the Tristar Gym alongside Georges St-Pierre and others, is on a 10-fight victory streak, with half of those wins in the Octagon. Carmont scored a solid decision over Strikeforce upstart Lorenz Larkin in April. Philippou will be his toughest opponent to date.
10:43 p.m. - Carmont enters first, Mr. Georges St-Pierre in his corner.
Though not the hometown boy, Philippou gets a little more pop from the relatively sedated crowd. This guy has some power hands that fans can get behind. Carmont is 21-7, though don't let that record fool you. Philippou should be the favorite here. Our referee is "Big" John McCarthy.
Round 1: An exchange of low kicks and Carmont lands a takedown. That's one way to avoid Philippou's power shots. Phil gets to cage and tries to climb up. Carmont is staying on him, though, and tries to take a kneeling Phil's back, one hook in. Carmont gets his hooks in and goes for the RNC; Phil immediately flips to his back. Carmont in Phil's half guard. Phil recovers guard; tries to roll for an armbar. Carmont uses the opening to pass to side control. Carmont to North-South, then back to side control. Phil gets back half guard. 1:00 to go. Phil tries for an oma plata; Carmont answers with some punches back in side control. This round is all Carmont. Phil with one more armbar attempt after regaining guard, but bell sounds here. Carmont 10-9.
Round 2: Phillipou bouncing around, trying to pump the jab. Carmont slickly avoids, then drops levels for another beautiful takedown. Philippou on the fence; Carmont landing punches in his half guard. Decent action, but crowd is getting restless. They wanted that stand-up battle that could have been. Carmont riding Philippou, won't give him an inch. Solid game plan. 2:30 to go and we're halfway to a mild upset here. Ref re-stands.
Within seconds, Carmont has another completed takedown without Philippou landing a single punch. Boos start to emanate from the disenchanted crowd. Carmont in half, stands, and dives in with a solid punch. Back to half, where we end with the bell. Carmont 10-9/20-18. Philippou is totally getting shut down and the crowd doesn't like it. Phil's corner tells him he's down two rounds and has to go for it.
Round 3: Philippou takes center canvas. Carmont with a spinning back kick that misses. Carmont high kick that misses. Philippou lands a low kick. He's going to need more than that. Doesn't get the chance. Carmont with another takedown with 3:45 to go. Carmont's punctuating each time he throws a punch with a gutteral sound. Phil not doing much from his back. Weak Guillotine attempt. Tries to isolate a leg, but Carmont is punching away. Sounds like he's going to throw up. Unnerving. :30 to go. Can't come fast enough. Carmont to full mount. Hammerfist. Double hammerfist. Bell. Carmont 10-9/30-27 One-sided.
Official: Francis Carmont def. Costas Philippou - Unanimous Decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-26)
UFC stats say Carmont had top position for 12 of the 15 minutes. Unexpected, but Carmont's takedowns were well-executed.
Air Canada Centre isn't full. Wide shot shows many patches of empty seats.
Khabib Nurmagomedov vs. Pat Healy, lightweight
Nurmagomedov boasts a rare 20-0 record, with his last victory a unanimous decision over Abel Trujillo at UFC 160 in May. Besides his excellent taste in traditional Dagestani hats (he wears them to every weigh-in and sports it tonight), the 25-year-old is a judo-throwing-tripping machine who's hard to slow down.
Healy (29-16, 1 NC) should be remembered first for his impressive third-round submission of Jim Miller back at UFC 159 in April, his first Octagon appearance since 2006. However, it's the positive drug test for marijuana that came afterward, the one that cost the longtime Strikeforce vet $130,000 in post-fight bonuses, that Healy will try to erase from fans' minds tonight.
Round 1: A bit of a messy start for both, trying to land with ineffective overhand combos. Nurm fends off a TD attempt, then lands two flying knees. Healy comes back, but Nurm has snuck in a couple of uppercuts and Healy's face looks cut already.
Healy is following Nurm, who throws a high kick, and counters well on his heels. Nurm with another flying knee. Blocked. Healy fights for a TD and gets it with :30 left. Nurm bounces up fast. Healy tries another TD, but it's incomplete. Nurm lands a big right hook at bell. Nurm 10-9.
Round 2: Healy's left cheek is open; not much blood yet. Looks like a hairline cut, too. Wild punching from both. Healy moving forward, and Nurm nearly gets his back on a failed TD attempt. Back to center, Healy back to following. Nurm catches him on fence and lands, punch, high kick. Healy circles out, but he's slowing down. Healy tags Nurm, who doesn't seem affected. Nurm trying to trip Healy down; Healy wall-walking on fence. They separate and Nurm gets in a combo in his exit. Nurm pushes Healy to fence again -- a battle for a single-leg. Healy's defending well against the judo black belt. Back to center, Nurm executes a clean slam, begins to work in Healy's guard to the bell. Nurm 10-9/20-18.
Round 3: Nurm appears up on the cards (at least mine). He's landed more effective shots, mostly off a charging Healy's counters. They continue to trade with wild combos, until Nurm scores a TD. Back in Healy's open guard; Healy fending off elbows. Nurm to half guard as Healy tries to set up a sweep, then another wall-walk. Lots of energy expended by both. Healy to his feet, but Nurm scoops Healy up and walks him across cage for a dramatic dump, a la Matt Hughes. Nurm still in Healy's guard. 1:30 to go and he turns it up with some hammerfists. Body. Head. Body. Exhausted Healy fighting to stand, but it's not happening. Nurm to side control, then to half guard. :30 to go. We end things with Healy's back to the cage, the bridge of his nose split open. Nurm 10-9/30-27.
Official: Khabib Nurmagomedov def. Pat Healy - Unanimous Decision (30-27 all)
Joe Rogan puts Nurm's furry hat on. Nurm, in English, asks for a title shot. "I'm ready," he says. Against newly-minted lightweight champ Anthony Pettis, he's an intriguing challenger.
-- Miles Jury (13-0) took a split decision over TUF 16 runner-up Mike Ricci (8-4) to close out an uneventful undercard. The lightweights spent a majority of the fifteen minutes entwined on the fence, grappling for control. It was slow going, which earned both fighters a showering of boos once the bell sounded. Jury improves to 4-0 in the UFC, though this bout is nothing to write home about.
-- Wilson Reis (17-4) rode his way to a flat unanimous decision (29-28 all) over Ivan Menjivar (25-11) in a lackluster bantamweight affair. Reis landed takedowns in every round, but did little in top position until he took full mount. Aside from a couple of early punches, Menjivar spent much of his time defending.
-- Welterweight Stephen Thompson (8-1) stopped Chris Clements (11-5, 1 NC) one minute and 27 seconds into round two with a succession of combinations that built up to an impressive technical knockout on the cage. Canadian veteran Clements, a distinguished striker in his own right, couldn't keep up after an active first round. The 30-year-old Thompson is now 3-1 in the UFC, with his only loss to Matt Brown.
-- Mitch Gagnon (10-2) survived a wind-sucking liver punch from Dustin Kimura (10-1) and went on to submit the previously undefeated Hawaiian at four minutes and five seconds into the first round of a crowd-pleasing bantamweight bout. Gagnon choked Kimura out cold with a guillotine choke from his back.
-- John Makdessi (12-2) dropped Renee Forte (8-3) face-forward with a head-skimming counter right, then finished him with follow-up shots for the TKO referee stoppage two minutes and one second into the first round. Lightweight Makdessi moves to 5-2 in the Octagon.
-- Lightweight Michel Prazeres (17-1) defeated Jesse Ronson (13-3) with a split decision (28-29 29-28, 29-28) that saw the Brazilian take the first round decisively via dominant ground control. Ronson seemed out of his element as Prazeres executed seven takedowns throughout, but came on strong with strikes and a slam reversal in the final round as Prazeres' gas tank emptied. Too little, too late.
-- Alex Caceres (9-5, 1 NC) earned a split decision over Toronto native Roland Delorme (9-2, I NC) in a back-and-forth bantamweight bout (29-28, 28-29, 29-28). Delorme had an early advantage on the canvas with rear-naked and arm-triangle choke attempts. But Caceres managed to keep his feet under him for the rest and peppered Delorme with punches to outwork him on two of the three scorecards. SI.com scored it 29-28 for Caceres.
-- Polish heavyweight Daniel Omielanczuk (16-3) knocked Austria's Nandor Guelmino (11-5-1) out with a stiff overhand left three minutes and 18 seconds into the third round of his UFC debut. The first round was close with kicking exchanges and cage-clinching; Omielanczuk landed the only takedown late in the round. Guelmino took the second round with ground control, after Omielanczuk gave up position with a failed Kimura attempt. Overall, an inconsequential bout buried at the very bottom of the undercard.