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UFC 165 blog: Jon Jones survives a scare, narrowly edges Alexander Gustafsson

Renan Barao shines with spinning back kick knockout

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ASSOCIATED PRESS

Jon Jones, left, and Alexander Gustafsson pose following the weigh-in for Saturday’s UFC 165 mixed martial arts bout in Toronto, Friday, Sept. 20, 2013.

Updated Saturday, Sept. 21, 2013 | 9:56 p.m.

The UFC's biggest superhero met his foil.

The nemesis stripped the champion of his aura of invincibility, but not of his belt. Jon Jones defended his light heavyweight championship for the sixth time in the main event of UFC 165, but he left the Air Canada Centre with a disfigured face.

Alexander Gustafsson challenged Jones in ways no one had ever seen before, coming up just short in a unanimous decision (49-46, 48-47, 48-47) for the champion.

"That was by far my toughest fight," Jones said while still in the octagon. "I had to really exercise my warrior spirit. I was real sloppy tonight."

Gustafsson became only the second fighter to take Jones to the scorecards — the first being Rashad Evans — during his title reign and the first to take him down. Gustafsson controlled the majority of the first three rounds of the bout with his boxing and strength.

With his right eye swollen and blood covering his face, however, Jones persevered. He connected with a few head kicks and spinning elbows to put Gustafsson on the brink of a knockout in each of the final two rounds.

"I had some desperation," Jones admitted. "I just tried to stay calm and stay focused. I can say Alexander, that guy has some chin on him."

The reaction to the decision in the arena was mixed, as were the media scores. The Sun tallied the bout 48-47 in favor of Jones, but others went that way for Gustafsson.

"It was just an honor for me to fight the champ," Gustafsson said. "I will come back much stronger. It's the start of my career and I have a lot more fights."

The two featured fights before the main event were memorable in their own right, but also decisive. Renan Barao knocked out Eddie Wineland with a spinning back kick 35 seconds into the second round to keep his interim bantamweight title. Brendan Schaub pulled off an upset in submitting Matt Mitrione to tap out to a choke in the first round of a heavyweight bout.

Check below for round-by-round coverage of the main card and full results from the preliminary card. Stay tuned to lasvegassun.com for full coverage of UFC 165 later.

Note: Scroll to the bottom for full results from the preliminaries.

Jon Jones vs. Alexander Gustafsson

Fifth Round Jones' eye is swelling, but Gustafsson appears to be bleeding some on his own now. Unless that's just Jones' blood. Tough to tell. Gustafsson hits Jones with an uppercut early on and then a big right hand as Jones moves forward. Gustafsson is up big on strikes a minute into the final round. Jones elbows and then stuffs a Gustafsson takedown. Jones scores with a right hook and drags Gustafsson to the ground. Crowd pops up in applause. Jones hasn't made much use of his wrestling tonight. Gustafsson works his way to his feet. Jones lands a kick to the head and Gustafsson is wobbled. He doesn't have much left and Jones notices. Gustafsson ducks under a spinning back elbow, but takes another kick to the head. Jones isn't breathing nearly as heavy as his opponent. Gustafsson stuffs a takedown but Jones taunts him to come forward. Jones kicks to the body but Gustafsson answers with a right hand. Jones has landed more significant shots four minutes in, but Gustafsson has an edge in volume. Jones kicks away with 30 seconds to go but Gustafsson checks. Jones hits Gustafsson with an elbow and a kick across the body. Bell rings after Jones lands a flying knee. The Sun has Jon Jones retaining his title with a 48-47 win over Alexander Gustafsson. Jon Jones defeats Alexander Gustafsson by unanimous decision (49-46, 48-47, 48-47).

Fourth Round Jones hits Gustafsson with a stiff right. Gustafsson scores with a combination. Jones can't figure "The Mauler" out. Not much action for the first minute, but Gustafsson has an advantage in strikes landed. He continues to work his left hand to success. Jones just doesn't seem right as he whiffs on a couple more kicks. Jones swings at Gustafsson, who counters with a big right hand. Jones is in trouble. The cut near his right eye has re-opened and Gustafsson lands several big unanswered punches. Jones locks up with Gustafsson against the fence. Gustafsson gets out and continues the beating. One left hook sends Jones' blood flying across the cage. Gustafsson pieces together his combination again and stuffs a Jones takedown. Jones' eye is gnarly, covered in blood. He kicks Gustafsson to the head nad lands an elbow, but it's softer than the one from a couple rounds ago. Another elbow goes for Jones, who then hits him with two spinning back elbows. Gustafsson is in trouble. He's retreating but Jones is relentless. Jones hits him with a right hand at one side of the octagon and then tracks him down for another. Crowd goes wild as Jones hits Gustafsson with a knee. In one of the best rounds in UFC history, the Sun goes 10-9 in favor of Jones. It's tied at 38-38 heading into the final round.

Third Round They trade leg kicks in the opening seconds before Jones decides to go to the body. Gustafsson pieces together a combination where his right hand nicks Jones' chin. Jones continues to find success with his body work, using a spin kick and then a knee. Jones buckles Gustafsson's knee with a kick and then goes high. It misses and Gustafsson is able to land a right hand. The pace has slowed with neither fighter finding much of a rhythm. Jones covers up as Gustafsson comes forward with a combination capitalized by an uppercut. Gustafsson hits Jones but takes a kick to the head as an answer. Jones misses a scissor kick with two minutes left, but places a stiff jab right at Gustafsson's mouth. Jones finding space now and landing several punches without an answer. Gustafsson mixes his head and body shots, but can't take Jones down with an attempt at the 55-second remaining mark. Gustafsson catches a Jones kick but lets go and circles away. Jones nails Gustafsson with a spinning elbow. Gustafsson clinches up and drops to Jones' waist for a takedown. It's not there. Better round for Jones, who takes this one according to the Sun to cut Gustafsson's lead to 29-28.

Second Round They engage in the center with Jones kicking Gustafsson more. The Swede catches one of them and dumps Jones on his back. Jones pops up and chases after Gustafsson for retaliation. But he can't catch up. The Swedish part of the crowd is screaming in delight. Almost no one else saw this coming. Gustafsson picks Jones apart some more with his jab. Jones lands his biggest strike of the fight, a stiff elbow, a minute in. Gustafsson is evading a lot of Jones' kicks, though. Jones lands a knee but Gustafsson answers with a right hand a moment later. Jones kicks Gustafsson to the body hard. He follows it up with another and then a spinning attack. Gustafsson counters with a couple jabs. Jones rocks Gustafsson with a kick to the chin. Gustafsson can't come close to a takedown. It feels like the tide is turning. Jones wins an exchange in the middle of the cage. Gustafsson recovers and lands a right hand. Jones goes to the body with a kick. Jones follows with a left to the body. Gustafsson leg kicks and jabs. It's a close round with 1:30 to go. Gustafsson catches a Jones kick, and Jones flips out of the hold. They meet in the center with Jones kicking away. Gustafsson's straight left snaps Jones' head back. Jones goes up top with a switch kick but it barely connects. Gustafsson gets the last big shot of the round with a left hand. It could go either way but the Sun sides with Gustafsson to put him ahead 20-18.

First Round Jones ditches his crouching technique and meets Gustafsson in the middle standings. He kicks Gustafsson to the knee and dodges a flurry of early punches. Jones keeps looking for kicks, but Gustafsson gets away from the first takedown attempt. Not as easily as Jones is getting away from his punches, though. Jones kicks Gustafssons lead leg repeatedly. The champion lands a Superman punch while still maintaining his distance. Gustafsson scores with a couple left hands that gets Jones circling. Jones kicks some more. They throw at the same time and Gustafsson connects nicley with a right hand. Jones counters the next attack. A left hand from Gustafsson finds Jones' chin. Gustafsson scores with another left hand. Jones answers with a spinning back kick to the body. He goes up high with a head kick and then a leg kick. Gustafsson pounces on an opening and cuts Jones below his right eye. Jones stays with the leg kicks but Gustafsson is punishing him with punches. Close round with a minute go, thanks to repeated kicks from Jones. Stunning reversal. Gustafsson takes Jones, who's supposed to have a wrestling advantage, down. Jones gets right back but Gustafsson is bobbing and confident now. Jones tries a spinning elbow but it appears Gustafsson was poked in the eye. Referee stops the fight. Replay clearly shows Jones poked Gustafsson in eyes, which draws loud boos from the crowd. Jones misses another spinning attack. Round ends with Jones failing to secure a takedown. First round went perfectly for Gustafsson, who leads 10-9 on the Sun's scorecard.

Renan Barao vs. Eddie Wineland

Second Round Wineland is ready to engage as he runs straight at Barao. Barao gets the first punch to go, however, with a right hand. Wineland starts swinging away after that with mixed results. A spinning back kick from Barao drops Wineland. Barao swarms and the referee stops the fight. Renan Barao knocks out Eddie Wineland 35 seconds into the second round.

First Round "Eddie" chants fill the Air Canada Centre as the interim bantamweight title challenger eases into the fight with a few jabs. Barao doesn't engage at all for the opening minute. He eventually shoots for a takedown, but Wineland thwarts it and pushes Barao against the cage. The referee breaks them apart after just a few seconds. Wineland ducks under a Barao headkick and pushes him to the ground. Barao doesn't miss with a leg kick, though, and it buckles Wineland lead leg. Wineland stays more aggressive than the champion, however, without much results. Barao misses on a spinning back kick. Wineland comes up empty with a couple combinations and Barao lands a leg kick and a shot to the body. With a minute left in the round, Wineland tosses Barao away after another takedown attempt. Barao hits Wineland with a right hand followed by a kick to the body. Barao is finding his range as another right hits Wineland solidly in the temple. Barao wins the round late, 10-9, on the Sun's scorecard.

Brendan Schaub vs. Matt Mitrione

First Round They keep their distance for about 40 seconds until a sloppy exchange that goes Schaub's way. Mitrione answers with a left hook that lands spot-on. Schaub comes forward with a jab-hook combination a couple times. He catches Mitrione with a right. Mitrione kicks to the body. Schaub shoots for a takedown, but it's not even close. Mitrione stays up. Mitrione has blood dripping from a strange spot below his eye, obviously opened with one of the right hands Schaub continues to fire. Schaub blasts Mitrione with a combination that has him covering up. It leaves him vulnerable for a takedown, which Schaub takes advantage of with a slam. Schaub transitions to a choke and it looks like Mitrione is tapping but the referee lets the fight go on. Mitrione signals thumbs-up one second, but then goes limp. Brendan Schaub submits Matt Mitrione at 4:06 of the first round.

Costa Philippou vs. Francis Carmont

Third Round Carmont tries a few plodding kicks, but they're telegraphed to the point that Philippou can get away easily. One finally brushes Philippou against the nose. Philippou hits Carmont with a hook a few moments later, one of the first punches he's found success with all fight. Carmont takes Philippou down again moments later. This round is playing out much like the first two. Carmont groans as he lobs punches towards Philippou from top position. Philippou gets back up for a few seconds, but Carmont deposits him down again. Carmont frowns, knowing any chance for victory is slipping away. Carmont's ground-and-pound isn't particularly effective, but it's something. That's more than what Philippou is doing. Carmont mounts Philippou with 30 seconds to go. It's the best position he's been in all night. The fight comes to a forgiving end. The Sun sides with Carmont 30-27. Francis Carmont defeats Costa Philippou by unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-26).

Second Round Carmont jabs with Philippou looking for, and missing with, more significant strikes. Carmont pounces on the first opening to take Philippou down. Much like the first round, he's sitting safely in Philippou's guard but rarely throwing any ground-and-pound. In more of a replay from the first round, Philippou gets to the fence but Carmont drags him back out ever so slightly. Midway through the round, the crowd starts to boo. The referee stands the fight up 20 seconds later. Philippou throws a right hook upon the re-start. Carmont ducks under another punch from the former professional boxer and shoots for a takedown. He's got it, and is now working for a choke. Carmont takes periodic openings to throw punches from top position instead. The crowd's boos re-ignite. Not very exciting, but Carmont wins his second straight round to go ahead 20-18 according to the Sun.

First Round They trade kicks, with Carmont's sounding noticeably louder. Carmont converts on a double-leg takedown attempt. Philippou scoots himself to the fence, but Carmont stays on with the pressure and begins to try to take his opponent's back. He's got one leg in as a hook but Philippou is using the cage to shield him from the other. Carmont tries for a choke, so Philippou abandons his spot on the cage. Carmont is in top position firing hammerfists. Philippou tinkers with some submission but it only ends with Carmont in better position. Carmont is in side control for several seconds before re-entering Philippou's guard. Philippou looks for an armbar for the second time, but he's not in a position to pull it off. Carmont bashes him with hammerfists as soon as he's out of the attempt. Round ends with Philippou trying again, but the bell rings. The Sun scores the first 10-9 for Carmont.

Pat Healy vs. Khabib Nurmagomedov

Third Round Healy boxes early with some success, snapping Nurmagomedov's head back with a right hand. Nurmagomedov fails on a takedown attempt. He starts to work high kicks, but Healy has landed several punches. Nurmagomedov takes Healy down around the minute mark much in the same manner he did in the last round — with a double-leg at the center of the octagon. He's in Healy's half-guard and looking to transition. Healy is using all of his strength to try and stand up. He gets there, but only to be on the wrong end of a highlight reel. Nurmagomedov tosses Healy on his shoulder, walks to the other side of the cage in the vein of Matt Hughes and slams his opponent to the canvas. The crowd responds in major fashion. The truth is, though, the rest of the round has been dull. Nurmagomedov opens up with hammerfists with around 1:30 left to go. He's all over Healy, who usually creates his victories the same way Nurmagomedov is succeeding. There will be no wins for Healy tonight, though. Nurmagomedov wins 30-27 on the Sun's scorecard.Judges agree, as Nurmagomedov wins a unanimous decision by taking every round on every scorecard.

Second Round Healy rocks Nurmagomedov with a left hand early. The Russian look to be off-balance but recovered quickly. Healy keeps the pressure on and swings forward with a combination. He's a little reckless, however, as Nurmagomedov takes him down. Nurmagomedov throws some knees into Healy's side but they're off the ground after a few seconds. Healy looks to box, but Nurmagomedov counters with perfect timing. The left side of Healy's face looks much worse now, with his eye bruised and bloody. Nurmagomedov shifts away from a takedown attempt and blasts Healy with kicks to the head. Healy checks one of them but feels the pain from another. Nurmagomedov continues to look for a big-punch uppercut and it gets him in trouble when Healy counters with hooks twice in a row. Healy's left hand sends Nurmagomedov crashing into the fence until he circles to the other side of the cage. Healy is right behind and continues to throw with high frequency. They clinch up and attempt takedowns, but neither fighter can keep the other on the ground. Nurmagomedov throws a combination as they break out. Nurmagomedov tries for a single-leg takedown against the fence, but Healy isn't having it. Nurmagomedov draws him out to the middle, where he does score a takedown. Healy goes to his back with 20 seconds remaining. Nothing much happens there, but Nurmagomedov takes another round on this scorecard to go up 20-18.

First Round Nurmagomedov touches Healy with a right hand 30 seconds into the bout for the first action. Healy pressing forward, but Nurmagomedov is staying tentative and circling away. Healy goes to the body and looks for a takedown, but Nurmagomedov backs out with quick feet. Healy starts to jab. Nurmagomedov lands an uppercut. They lock up against the cage momentarily before resurfacing in the center. Nurmagomedov eats a leg kick after getting another uppercut to go. Nurmagomedov hits Healy with two straight flying knees and the crowd awakes. Healy looks a little off-kilter as he comes forward winging punches. Nurmagomedov ducks and weaves out of the way of his opponent's strikes. The left side of Healy's face is bruised as Nurmagomedov hits him with a right hand. Nurmagomedov pieces together a combination, though when he goes back to his uppercut it misses. Healy scores with one combination but takes a counter from Nurmagomedov on the ensuing one. Nurmagomedov goes back to the flying knee but misses. Healy boxes him against the cage, but gets taken down with a double-leg by the Russian. Healy gets back to his feet quickly, but Nurmagomedov shoots again. Healy stays up, but supplies no offense until the final seconds with a couple punches. The Sun gives the first round to Nurmagomedov, 10-9.

Pre-main card

The rain began several hours ago, early in the morning.

The drops, continually alternating between slow trickles and piercing pellets, have turned the downtown area into a mess of puddles and umbrellas.

It’s not an ideal scene for any outdoor activities in Canada’s largest city, but it’s a perfect day for fights from the comfort of being indoors.

The UFC returns to the city President Dana White once referred to as mixed martial arts’ Mecca for the fourth time in three years with a major splash of a card. Two championship belts, and therefore two of the most impressive win streaks in the sport, are at risk tonight at UFC 165.

Interim bantamweight champion Renan Barao lost in his UFC debut eight years ago but has never again tasted defeat. He rides a 30-fight win streak, the largest currently in the promotion, into his second defense against Eddie Wineland.

Light heavyweight champion Jon Jones rightfully deserves 19 straight victories, but a bout against Mat Hamill infamously went against him because of disqualification for illegal strikes.

So while he technically hasn’t won every fight, Jones has certainly demolished every opponent. And he claims more of the same is on tap for Sweden’s Alexander Gustafsson in the UFC 165 main event.

Gustafsson has displayed a calm demeanor for months leading up to the fight, vowing the champion does not intimidate him and that he’s the one to take him down.

Jones has openly mocked the suggestion, running through the list of former champions he’s dismantled — which includes Lyoto Machida, Rashad Evans and Quinton “Rampage” Jackson — as evidence that Gustafsson isn’t up for the challenge.

It does stick out that Gustafsson has only twice faced fighters in the current light heavyweight top 10 and gone 1-1, beating No. 10 Mauricio “Shogun” Rua by decision but getting submitted by No. 3 Phil Davis.

But this was a fight Jones asked for because he was tired of hearing that so much of his success was due to his size and reach in comparison to the rest of the division. Gustafsson is slightly taller and holds a comparable reach.

Before the two headlining affairs, however, three other important showdowns take place in different divisions.

Top lightweight prospect Khabib Nurmagomedov meets former Strikeforce standout Pat Healy in the opener. Surging middleweights Costa Philippou and Francis Carmont take over from there.

Bridging the gap between openers and title fights is a heavyweight bout between Matt Mitrione and Brendan Schaub.

Stay tuned to lasvegassun.com for live round-by-round coverage of the UFC 165 main card and look below for full results from the preliminaries.

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Myles Jury sticks out his tongue during the weigh in for The Ultimate Fighter 15 Thursday, May 31, 2012.

Lightweight Myles Jury stayed undefeated in the UFC, but it wasn't pretty. Jury defeated Mike Ricci by split decision (29-28, 29-28, 28-29) in a bout that had little in the way of action. Jury ultimately got the nod by holding Ricci down for prolonged stretches in the first and third rounds.

Wilson Reis didn't let the crowd's boos stop him from celebrating a victory in his UFC debut. Reis, a former Bellator fighter, defeated Ivan Menjivar by unanimous decision (29-29, 29-28, 29-28) in a bantamweight bout with superior wrestling and takedowns displayed in the second and third rounds.

Stephen Thompson knocked out Chris Clements at 1:27 of the second round in a welterweight bout. "Wonderboy" looked awfully impressive, touching Clements with punches from both hands at will throughout the duration of the fight.

Mitch Gagnon had bloodied Dustin Kimura's nose within the first minute of their bantamweight fight. The Canadian added further damage to the Hawaiian's face within in the next couple minutes, and then got a hold of his neck. Gagnon submitted Kimura with a guillotine choke at 4:05 of the first round.

John Makdessi picked up the slack for his other two countrymen who were on the Internet-streamed preliminary card, becoming the first Canadian to get a victory at the Air Canada Centre. The Montreal-based Makdessi knocked out Renee Forte at 2:01 of the first round in a lightweight bout.

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Alex Caceres.

Jesse Ronson drew a raucous home crowd in his UFC debut, but couldn't sate the turnout with a victory. Michel Prazeres smothered Ronson with takedowns in each of the first two rounds to earn a split-decision victory (29-28, 29-28, 28-29) in their lightweight showdown.

In a close bantamweight matchup, Alex Caceres took a split decision (29-28, 29-28, 28-29) off of Roland Delorme. While Delorme won the grappling parts of the bout, Caceres was able to severely out-strike Delorme for the victory.

Daniel Omielanczuk knocked out Nandor Guelmino at 3:18 of the third round in a heavyweight bout. Omielanczuk, from Poland, caught Austria's Guelmino with consecutive left hands to end the fight.

Case Keefer can be reached at 948-2790 or [email protected]. Follow Case on Twitter at twitter.com/casekeefer.

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