UFC 165 Results: Questions Answered and Lessons Learned
UFC 165 is in the books, and outside of some horrible hype videos, it went down as one of the most successful UFC events in recent memory.
Considering the card had two title fights, it's surprising that fans weren't more excited for UFC 165. Perhaps it's due to fans being jaded over seeing UFC lightweight champ Jon Jones and UFC interim champ Renan Barao—he's the best bantamweight; the UFC needs to drop the interim tag—dominate the competition in their fights.
We saw Jones finally forced to fight back from adversity in his title match with Alexander Gustafsson. The Swede pushed Jones to his limits, but the champion was able to edge him on the scorecards.
Barao didn't look like a world-beater in the early going against Eddie Wineland but capped off his fight with an amazing TKO victory. The win was Barao's second title defense, and with Dominick Cruz still on the sidelines, it's hard to not consider Barao the top bantamweight in the world.
The rest of the card featured action-packed fights (minus the Francis Carmont-Costa Philippou bout) that made fans who forked over $55 to watch the pay-per-view satisfied with their purchase.
Khabib Nurmagomedov Is for Real
Khabib Nurmagomedov is a fighter who's on quite a roll in his career. With an unbeaten record standing at 21-0, I think it's time the former Combat Sambo world champion finds himself in a premier fight.
Nurmagomedov needed a good test to see where he ranks in the UFC's lightweight division, and Pat Healy was expected to provide that. Healy did his best to turn the fight into a "dirty fight" but couldn't do enough to win the bout at UFC 165.
The Russian passed his test with flying colors, and I suspect the UFC is a believer in his ability as well. If anyone had any remaining questions about whether Nurmagomedov deserves a Top 10 opponent, he put a stamp on his victory by carrying Healy across the cage like Matt Hughes used to do.
It's time to see Nurmagomedov "in the mix."
Francis Carmont Is and Isn't a Contender at the Same Time
Here's a question that's yet to be answered by Francis Carmont: Is it physically possible for him to provide any form of excitement in his fights?
At UFC 165, Carmont earned another dominant but rather dull decision victory. The Tri Star product hasn't been defeated in the UFC and should be considered "in the mix" after manhandling Costa Philippou.
Yet, Carmont is certainly on the outside looking in when it comes to title contenders. Dana White definitely isn't buying Carmont as a true contender.
And can anyone really blame him?
I can appreciate a guy dominating the fight with grappling, but when you're in the position Carmont found himself in, there's no excuse for not finishing Philippou. With his opponent offering little to no resistance on the ground, Carmont should've looked to land some big punches while on the ground.
That's how you make emphatic victories that cause fans to go on Twitter to beg White to put you in top fights. If Carmont can't tweak his game, the only way fans will mention him is if they need a cure for their sleeping problems.
Renan Barao Is the Best Bantamweight in the World
Dominick Cruz hasn't lost in the UFC, and outside of his fights with Urijah Faber, he has looked dominant inside the Octagon. But he also hasn't competed since October of 2011 and won't until 2014.
Although Renan Barao's title says interim, there's nothing interim about his place at the top of the bantamweight rankings. With two successful title defenses (and two finishes), any doubt as to who the best at 135 pounds had to be erased after Barao landed the spinning kick that ended Eddie Wineland's night.
After defeating virtually everyone who could be considered for a title shot, I wouldn't be surprised to see Barao sit on the sidelines until Cruz officially comes back.
Jon Jones Is Human and Isn't Just a Front-Runner Fighter
Jon Jones wore a shirt that said "Not Quite Human" for the UFC 165 weigh-ins, but he looked very human during his title defense against Alexander Gustafsson.
The Swede took it to Jones and pushed the champion to his breaking point. Instead of breaking, however, the champion responded by fighting through the adversity en route to a decision victory.
Since Jones has been dominating his challengers, I've been saying we need to see Jones come from behind in a fight. It's easy to enjoy the ride on top while winning so easily, but Jones showed he's more than just a front-runner-type of fighter.
He found himself having to fight defensively from the beginning as Gustafsson made it clear he wasn't going to be another cakewalk for the champion at UFC 165.
After having virtually every question answered about him as a fighter, it seems Jones' toughest opponent is himself.
Alexander Gustafsson Is a Future World Champion
If that's the level Alexander Gustafsson can compete at in all his future fights, I don't see anyone not named Jon Jones being able to defeat him.
Gustafsson took a number of heavy blows and stayed upright. His wrestling has improved dramatically since the loss to Phil Davis, and he was even able to take the champion down. To date, he's been the only fighter able to make a fight with Jones competitive, which in itself would be cause for a moral victory.
Yet, Gustafsson not only took home a moral victory for hanging with the champion, he should be wearing UFC gold according to a number of MMA fans.
Considering nearly everyone believes Jones is on another level compared to anyone at 205 pounds, how can anyone believe Gustafsson isn't on another level from the rest of the light heavyweight contenders?
It may be a case of Gustafsson having an "on night" in the biggest fight of his life, but if he can continually fight at that level, he may be the next 205 champ after Jones moves on.