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Jones retains title in brutal fight

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Mike Chippetta, Fox Sports
Sun Sep 22, 6:24 AM UTC

TORONTO - Jon Jones has been so dominant, so long that it’s easy to forget he’s mortal. He bleeds, he feels pain, he is vulnerable. For five rounds of the UFC 165 main event, Alexander Gustafsson reminded us of that, mounting the most significant threat to the longest current UFC reign.

For the first time in his career, Jones found himself on his back and he found himself hurt, yet he showed that he is more than just a unique package of talent and skill. He is also an indomitable spirit capable of rallying under pressure. Turning back Gustafsson’s spirited chase of the belt, Jones broke the record for consecutive light-heavyweight title defense with a unanimous decision victory at the Air Canada Centre. The judges scored it 48-47, 48-47, 49-46.

The result drew a mixed reaction from the crowd, which started out pro-Gustafsson and grew as it became clear he would put up a legitimate challenge. According to FightMetric, Gustafsson actually out-landed Jones 191-120 overall.

“I’ll tell you what, I’ve been asking for a dogfight for a long time,” Jones said afterward. “I got what I was looking for. I’m not satisfied. I’ve got to do a lot of work in the gym to stay on top of my game.”

Both fighters had their moments. Gustafsson bloodied Jones’ right eye early and worked on it throughout the course of the bout. Jones, meanwhile, came closest to a finish, rocking Gustafsson in the fourth with a spinning back elbow. He looked for a knockout in the corner but a wobbly Gustafsson managed to survive the onslaught and continue on.

Gustafsson also managed to become the first fighter ever to put Jones (19-1) on his back, accomplishing the feat with a first-round takedown. All night, he was able to neutralize Jones’ wrestling game, forcing him to go 1-for-12 on takedown tries of his own. While Gustafsson stayed busy, it was apparently Jones’ significant strikes which pulled out the win for him.

Gustafsson fell to 15-2.

Even before he stepped in the cage, Renan Barao said he felt like the bantamweight division’s best, despite the “interim” tag attached to his title. Each time he goes out and performs as he does, he will find fewer and fewer dissenters. Barao romped to another win, taking his amazing unbeaten streak to 31 straight after knocking out Eddie Wineland in the night’s co-main event.

The finish was spectacular, coming courtesy of a spinning back kick that floored the challenger. Barao needed a few ground strikes to finish it off, but the sequence sent a buzz through the Air Canada Centre crowd.

"I don't practice that very often,” he said afterward. “I always try that. This time, it worked."

Earlier this week, UFC president Dana White said that this would be Barao’s last defense. Linear champ Dominick Cruz will either return at the start of the year, or be stripped of the title, so Barao will either face him and have a chance to win the belt outright, or be named the champion if Cruz cannot return.

Barao is now 31-1 with 1 no contest.

In the evening’s pay-per-view opener, Khabib Nurmagomedov scored his most significant win to date, shutting down and shutting out Pat Healy in a unanimous decision win.

In his last bout, the 25-year-old Nurmagomedov set a UFC single-fight record with 21 takedowns, but against the gritty Healy, he rode his unorthodox striking combos to the finish line, out-landing the veteran 107-38 in significant strikes. The win makes him 21-0 overall and 5-0 in the UFC.

Afterward, Nurmagomedov said he wanted a UFC lightweight title shot. He’s probably not quite ready for that leap — and anyway, both Josh Thomson and T.J. Grant are queued up as challenger — but there’s little question that his charismatic presence, perfect record and UFC streak will soon put him into the conversation of contenders, especially after dominating the No. 10-ranked Healy.

In the night’s most noteworthy upset, Francis Carmont his grappling and wrestling edge to grind his way past No. 7 middleweight Costa Philippou.

Carmont was 5-for-5 in takedowns, allowing him to spend over 12 minutes of the fight on the ground, in top position. That led him to out-landing Philippou 89-15 overall, and though few of those shots were impactful, it made scoring the fight easy for the judges, who gave it to the Canadian 30-27, 30-27, 30-26. It was the sixth straight UFC win for Carmont, now 22-7.

Rounding out the main card, Brendan Schaub choked out Matt Mitrione with a D’arce in just 4:06 of the first round. The two had traded barbs in the weeks leading up to the fight, but Schaub controlled things the whole way. After a flurry that backed Mitrione to the cage, Schaub scooped him and slammed him to the mat, and snuck in the choke as Mitrione tried to scramble his way back to his feet. Mitrione refused to tap, and instead, the referee had to pull Schaub free after Mitrione went limp.

After a rough stretch of two straight knockout losses, Schaub has now won two straight to improve to 10-3, while Mitrione has now lost three of his last four.

FULL RESULTS Jon Jones def. Alexander Gustafsson via unanimous decision (48-47, 48-47, 49-46)

Renan Barao def. Eddie Wineland via TKO, Rd. 2 (0:35)

Brendan Schaub def. Matt Mitrione via technical submission (D’arce choke), Rd. 1 (4:06)

Francis Carmont def. Costa Philippou via unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-26)

Khabib Nurmagomedov def. Pat Healy via unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27)

Myles Jury def. Mike Ricci via split-decision (29-28, 29-28, 28-29)

Wilson Reis def. Ivan Menjivar via unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28)

Stephen Thompson def. Chris Clements via KO, Rd. 2 (1:27)

Mitch Gagnon def. Dustin Kimura via technical submission (guillotine choke), Rd. 1 (4:05)

John Makdessi def. Renee Forte via KO, Rd. 1 (2:01)

Michel Prazeres def. Jesse Ronson via split-decision (29-28, 29-28, 28-29)

Alex Caceres def. Roland Delorme via split-decision (29-28, 29-28, 28-29)

Daniel Omielańczuk def. Nandor Guelmino via KO, Rd. 3 (3:18)

Courtesy of FOXSports.com

The opinions expressed are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Comcast.

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