Top 5 Performances at UFC 165

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The Unfamiliar Sight of a Busted Up Jon Jones at UFC 165

Jon Jones
Tom Szczerbowski USA TODAY Sports

It was definitely an exciting night in Toronto at UFC 165. The main event exceeded all expectations as light heavyweight champion Jon “Bones” Jones survived the most difficult night of his career to record a five-round decision victory over Alexander Gustafsson in what was a terrific fight. It was a record setting night for Jones as he moved past Tito Ortiz with a sixth straight title defense. Gustafsson’s performance raised plenty of eyebrows as he showed the perceived separation between the champ and the rest of the pack may not be as great as everybody thought.

The card also featured yet another stellar effort from interim bantamweight champion Renan Barao who draws closer to unifying the 135 pound title, there were some breakout performances from a couple of fighters who remain undefeated in the Octagon, heavyweight Brendan Schaub showed he’s starting to produce a few more wrinkles to his overall game, and it was night where a couple of established veterans took significant steps back in their careers.

There was explosive action as well in the preliminary portion of the card. Let the speculation begin as to who saw their stocks rise the most, those who saw their careers hit a speed bump and others who catapulted themselves into possible title contention.

As we always like to do after any major UFC event we will take a look at the top-five performances. These were the efforts that I thought stood out the most in what was an enjoyable night of fights.

Rick LaFitte is an MMA Writer for Rant Sports

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5. Mitch Gagnon Makes Solid Return to Octagon

Mitch Gagnon
Tom Szczerbowski USA TODAY Sports

It was quite a welcome back for the Canadian fighter on his home soil as Gagnon recorded a first-round submission of previously unbeaten Dustin Kimura. It earned him a Submission of the Night bonus. Gagnon, who’d been sidelined for a year by a knee injury, showed plenty of grit after taking a devastating body blow that nearly ended his night. He showed composure to survive and eventually finished a bloodied Kimura via choke. Gagnon has a solid standup game and has won all 10 of his fights via submission.

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4. Khabib Nurmagomedov Makes Huge Statement

Khabib Nurmagomedov
Tom Szczerbowski USA TODAY Sports

“The Eagle” showed he’s a legitimate top-10 contender in the lightweight ranks with a grinding decision win over Pat Healy. The veteran is as tough as they come and Nurmagomedov dominated Healy with his grappling, ground and pound and even threw in some flying knees as well. Nurmagomedov asked for a title shot in the wake of the victory, which left him at 5-and-0 in the UFC. He’s not too far off of getting one if he can secure another victory in his next bout.

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3. Renan Barao Finishes Eddie Wineland

Renan Barao
Tom Szczerbowski USA TODAY Sports

The interim bantamweight title holder just continues to roll along as he took out tough challenger Eddie Wineland in spectacular fashion. A rarely showcased spinning back kick to the face ruined Wineland’s title hopes in Round 2 as Barao ran his remarkable unbeaten streak to 32 fights. He’s now well positioned for his unification fight with Dominick Cruz.

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2. Alexander Gustafsson Turns in the Performance of His Career

Alexander Gustafsson
Tom Szczerbowski

It’s the first time we’ve included a losing effort in our top-5 performances but how can you not give “The Mauler” the props that he deserves. He showed tremendous striking and footwork, a tremendous ability to absorb punishment and no doubt won plenty of new fans with his effort. Gustafsson is clearly a much improved fighter from the man who lost to Phil Davis at UFC 112, and the training at Alliance MMA with Davis has clearly brought Gustafsson’s game to another level.

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1. Jon Jones Digs Deep to Overcome Huge Challenge

Jon Jones
Tom Szczerbowski USA TODAY Sports

It certainly wasn’t the most dominant performance we’ve ever seen from the champion but it clearly was an exciting night where Jones displayed plenty of heart and grit in what was easily the most difficult fight of his career. Jones had to deal with the adversity of being cut, actually being hit, and having to adapt on the fly when Gustafsson held his normally dominant wrestling skills in check. “Bones” set more history inside the Octagon with his sixth straight successful light heavyweight defense and it easily is the most memorable