Myles Jury sports 11 finishes among his 12 career wins. | Photo: Dave Mandel/Sherdog.com
Following an increasingly rare off week for the Ultimate Fighting Championship, the promotion will set down in Toronto once again on Saturday for UFC 165. The event takes place at the Air Canada Centre and will see light heavyweight champion Jon Jones put his title on the line against surging Swede Alexander Gustafsson to close the pay-per-view card.
However, before we shell out $55 bucks to hear the UFC commentary team scream at each other about factors like height and reach and whether Gustafsson should just get it over with and change his nickname to “Scrawny Thor,” the UFC 165 undercard airs live and free on Fox Sports 1 and Facebook.
Here are five reasons to tune in:
Sherdog Fantasy MMA: UFC 165 Free Fan Pick’Em
Myles Jury is a fighter on the move, and it would be wise to keep an eye on him.
Recognized early on for his talent but hindered by injuries, the two-time “Ultimate Fighter” veteran has surprised many by posting three straight wins to keep his perfect professional record pristine. Particularly impressive were his recent victories over “The Ultimate Fighter” finalists Michael Johnson and Ramsey Nijem. To be honest, I did not think Jury would walk away with either of those victories, much less both of them.
The 24-year-old proved me wrong and looked smooth in doing so, first out-wrestling Johnson en route to a unanimous decision in December before crushing Nijem with a vicious overhand right five months ago at UFC on Fox 7.
Now paired with another “Ultimate Fighter” finalist in Mike Ricci, Jury will try to secure his 13th professional victory and take another step toward the lightweight division’s upper echelon. Can he take care of business against the Canadian?
Running of ‘The Bull’
John Makdessi is always a blast to watch, and fans will receive another opportunity to catch “The Bull” throw down when he locks horns with “The Ultimate Fighter: Brazil” alum Renee Forte.
Makdessi rebounded from back-to-back losses to post a pair of sharp performances in his last two outings, using an effective jab to stifle Sam Stout in November before consistently beating Daron Cruickshank to the punch in their March 16 encounter. The Quebecer was then expected to return to the cage against fellow kickboxing machine Edson Barboza in July, but that potentially explosive booking was unfortunately scrapped when Makdessi pulled out with an injury.
Makdessi’s striking is among the tightest in all the UFC, but his ground game is still a work in progress. Will he be able to stay vertical and use his technique to frustrate the powerful Forte?
Hope for Reis
I certainly did not, but the more I think about it, the more I like it. It is easy to forget that Reis is just 28 years old, considering many of us were introduced to him five years ago during his stint with the short-lived EliteXC. It really feels like he has been around a lot longer.
Following that EliteXC run at 140 pounds, Reis reappeared in Bellator MMA’s featherweight division, fighting his way to the promotion’s Season 1 tournament semifinals before falling to eventual champion Joe Soto. Reis would then make three more tournament runs in Bellator, competing in the Season 2 and 4 featherweight brackets before making the cut to 135 pounds for Season 5. The Brazilian never made it past the semifinals and ended his promotional run with a nasty knockout loss to future bantamweight champ Eduardo Dantas.
After that 2011 defeat, Reis posted four straight victories and was set to make his Octagon debut as an injury replacement for Johnny Bedford at UFC Fight Night 28.
However, an injury to Hugo Viana forced Reis off that card and into another injury replacement role against veteran Ivan Menjivar. Can the Brazilian maintain his recent momentum and hand “The Pride of El Salvador” his second straight loss?
They might not be the names you put at the top of your marquee, but I think Roland Delorme and Alex Caceres hold the potential to steal “Fight of the Night.”
Delorme’s most recent performance against Edwin Figueroa was a wild one, with big swings occurring for both fighters before Delorme saw his hand raised in a unanimous decision. Likewise, Caceres also put forth a hard-fought effort in his last outing, though I felt he was gift wrapped a split decision against Kyung Ho Kong before the result was overturned due to a positive marijuana test.
Still, it is difficult to forget how much fun it has been to watch “Bruce Leeroy” since the “The Ultimate Fighter 12” alum dropped to bantamweight. His unorthodox striking style and aggressive approach to submissions should complement Delorme’s game nicely, and I could see this fight producing action from bell to bell.
Rise and Shine
Mitch Gagnon and Dustin Kimura are prospects deserving of a look.
Undefeated through 10 fights, Kimura was fortunate to keep his perfect record intact through his UFC debut against Chico Camus, who inexplicably kept engaging the submission ace on the floor despite finding success standing. To Kimura’s credit, however, he used Camus’ strategic misstep to his advantage and locked up a fight-ending rear-naked choke in the third round.
Overcoming adversity and bouncing back from defeat are arguably the most compelling aspects of professional sports, and both Kimura and Gagnon have shown the ability to hang tough when things proceed in less-than-favorable fashion. Just as Kimura gutted out a submission against the hard-hitting Camus, Gagnon rebounded from a deflating submission loss to Bryan Caraway to take out rangy talent Walel Watson in just 69 seconds.
Both prospects carry promise with them into their sophomore UFC efforts. Which man will continue to climb the bantamweight ladder?