(Seriously, Jon? You can’t take a break from Candy Crush Saga for five seconds? / Photo via Getty)
By Adam Martin
UFC 165 takes place on Saturday night at Air Canada Centre in Toronto, Ontario, Canada, and while most of the media’s focus has been on headliner UFC light heavyweight champion Jon Jones, there are 25 other fighters on the card fighting this weekend that need their stories to be told, too. I can’t write about them all, but I’ve picked four fighters this weekend that you should keep an eye out for in the UFC 165 edition of Hidden Storylines.
Hypothetically, What Happens If Alexander Gustafsson Beats Jon Jones?
It seems like everyone in the world that doesn’t live in Sweden is picking Jon Jones to retain his UFC light heavyweight championship against Alexander Gustafsson in the main event of UFC 165, but no one is asking what will happen if “The Mauler” pulls off the upset victory. Sure, it’s unlikely, but so was this, and it’s always foolish to count a challenger out completely.
If Gustafsson wins, it seems likely that the UFC will do an immediate rematch with Jones, even if UFC president Dana White won’t admit it. Sure, it would be nice for the UFC to have a European champion, but the truth is that Gustafsson will never be a star on Jones’s level, and it’s in the UFC’s best interest to do the rematch right away if he somehow loses.
In that sense, Gustafsson is in a bit of a no-win situation. Yes, he will be on top of the world for a few months, just like Chris Weidman is right now, but if he loses the rematch then everyone is going to think the first fight was a fluke and they wont give him the credit he deserves.
We’ll see what happens on Saturday night, but don’t expect a sudden changing of the guard at 205 if Gustafsson wins, and instead expect for the UFC to announce the rematch at the event’s post-fight press conference. As Gustafsson said himself, “I think every champion deserves a rematch.”
Does Renan Barao Become A Star With A Dominant Win?
UFC interim bantamweight champion Renan Barao is on a 31-fight unbeaten streak but I guarantee you if you asked your casual UFC fan friends if they know who he is, they’ll more than likely say they’ve never heard of him, and I believe this is a huge issue the UFC needs to address.
Barao is a nasty finisher, the main training partner of UFC featherweight champion Jose Aldo, and easily one of the most well-rounded pound-for-pound fighters on the planet. Yet, for some reason, there’s little buzz about this guy outside of MMA die-hards, even though he’s an absolute stud.
I’m not sure why this is, but I would guess it’s because the one time he was given any sort of significant exposure by the UFC he was one half of the main event of that horrible UFC 149 card and his dull performance there may have turned off fans for a while.
But that Urijah Faber fight was an anomaly, because other than that Barao has been nothing but a beast and if he can do the same thing he did to Brad Pickett and Michael McDonald against Eddie Wineland in the co-main event of UFC 165 then it may give him a huge boost with the casual fans who have only seen him fight Faber.
There will be a lot of people buying the card this weekend to watch Jones fight, so Barao will have a lot of eyes on him. This is a big opportunity for the 26-year-old, and if he can destroy Wineland like the betting odds suggest he will, the UFC could very well have a new star to promote. But he can’t just outpoint his opponent for the win like he did with Faber – he has to finish. And, on Satuday, we’ll see if he can do just that.
What Is Myles Jury’s Ceiling?
There aren’t many undefeated lightweight fighters in the UFC but one of them is fighting this weekend on the UFC 165 prelims and, if he wins, I expect him to take a serious jump up in competition in his next fight.
The fighter I’m referring to is of course Myles Jury, who takes on TUF 16 finalist Mike Ricci in what should be an exciting fight between two solid 155 pounders. But of the two fighters, I really do believe that it’s Jury who has the higher ceiling, and I think he will show exactly why he could be a future top-five lightweight, as I believe he will defeat Ricci in impressive fashion.
At 12-0 overall and with a 3-0 record in the UFC, Jury has surprisingly flown under the radar but don’t let the lack of media attention for this guy fool you, as he is one of the most underrated prospects in the division, and he could eventually make a run for the title with a little more seasoning.
Training every day with Michael Chandler and Ross Pearson at Alliance MMA in San Diego, Jury definitely has the right training partners surrounding him to give him the push he needs to reach his ceiling. He’ll take his next step to get there — at Ricci’s expense — on Saturday night.
What Can We Expect From Jesse Ronson?
Arguably the best lightweight prospect in Canada makes his UFC debut this Saturday night in his home province as London, Ontario’s Jesse Ronson took a short notice fight against Michel Prazeres in order to get his long-awaited shot in the UFC’s Octagon, and I am confident he is going to make the most of it.
I’ve followed Ronson’s career for years and I’ve seen him fight twice in person, against Alex Ricci and Ryan Healy in Score Fighting Series. Let me just say that there is a reason this guy is nicknamed “The Body Snatcher,” as he possesses some of the best body work in the entire lightweight division, and he showed that in the Ricci fight as he destroyed his opponent’s gut with brutal punches to the stomach.
Against Prazeres, I expect Ronson to really take it to his opponent in the standup game and I predict he’ll be celebrating a victory in his UFC debut with a dish of Brazilian liver, following a dominant performance that showcases his ability to attack his opponent’s torso.
I believe that Ronson has a very bright future and if he runs through Prazeres like I expect him to, this is a guy who could become the new Sam Stout — coincidentally, his main training partner at Adrenaline in southern Ontario — that is, an extremely exciting standup fighter who is always in the running for post-fight bonuses.