UFC 165 Date: September 21, 2013 Arena: Air Canada Centre City: Toronto, Ontario, Canada Lightweight bout: Khabib “The Eagle” Nurmagomedov (-245) vs Pat “Bam-Bam” Healy (+205) Fight Breakdown: Kicking things off for the UFC 165 main card is a highly anticipated match-up between two willful warriors who look to advance in the top 10 of the UFC lightweight division. With a win, either Russian Khabib Nurmagomedov or Strikeforce import Pat Healy will move one step closer to a title shot, which would be one or maybe two fights away. In this match-up, the betting odds for Khabib Nurmagomedov are at -245 ($245 to win $100), as he is the favorite, and the return on the underdog Pat Healy is +205 ($100 to win $205) at 5Dimes Sportsbooks. KHABIB “THE EAGLE” NURMAGOMEDOV (20-0 MMA, 4-0 UFC) will be stepping into the Octagon looking to make it 21 in a row and five straight in UFC when he takes on Pat Healy. He has put together an impressive streak over the past five years and looks to add to it as he’s got one thing on his mind: the UFC Lightweight Title. This will be Nurmagomedov’s toughest test to date. The last time he faced a bigger, well-rounded fighter was Gleison Tibau, a fight in which Nurmagomedov earned a controversial unanimous decision victory. Many fans believed that Tibau had won the fight and were surprised to see a unanimous nod go to the Russian. I personally scored the fight for him, as I felt Tibau did not do enough and Nurmagomedov’s forward pressure and constant attack gave him the edge. Tibau was just playing defense, it seemed. He has racked up another two wins since, including an impressive first round knockout over UFC veteran Thiago Tavares in his home country of Brazil. Nurmagomedov is a very talented grappler with exceptional submission skills. He is a Combat Sambo National Wrestling Champion and a two-time Combat Sambo World Champion. In 2012, he claimed the NAGA Grappling World Championship title. He has also held titles in M-1 and Pankration. Nurmagomedov currently owns the most takedowns in UFC history, as he took down Abel Trujillo 21 times at UFC 160 four months ago. The young Russian’s striking was very poor when he first stepped into the Octagon but he has been improving it from fight to fight. He started training at Alliance MMA in San Diego, CA., but has moved his camp to the American Kickboxing Academy in San Jose, CA., where he currently trains and prepares for upcoming bouts. Nurmagomedov has excellent conditioning and will be game for a three round war against another well-conditioned, durable, and gritty warrior in Pat Healy. PAT “BAM-BAM” HEALY (29-16-1 MMA, 0-0-1 UFC) is coming off an upset win over Jim Miller at UFC 159, the result of which was overturned by the New Jersey State Athletic commission when Healy tested positive for marijuana metabolyte. Not only did that drug test reverse the W on his record, but it also wiped out the $130,00 in bonuses he had earned for Submission of the Night and Fight of the Night, which really hurt. As far as his mental state is concerned following that incident, I am not sure in where he is heading into this bout. It’s possible that he has put it all behind him and is fighting with a clear head, and it’s also possible that it’s the only thing on his mind and he’s dead set to put on another impressive performance and win at least another bonus. I think it would be best for him if he fights with his head clear, otherwise he might get caught by The Eagle. Healy will have the size advantage heading into this bout, as he is a former welterweight. Since dropping from welterweight to the lightweight division nearly four years ago, Healy has only suffered one loss and it came at the hands of current UFC lightweight title challenger Josh Thomson. Besides the lone loss in the division, he has put together eight wins; nine, if you include the Jim Miller fight. The Oregon native had a somewhat successful run at welterweight before dropping down a weight class, as he holds notable victories over the likes of Dan Hardy, Paul Daley, and Carlos Condit. That said, he realized he needed to make the drop if he wanted to reach his goal of having a Strikeforce and/or UFC championship title around his waist. Healy is a gritty wrestler who loves to close the distance and grind his opponents out with an aggressive, suffocating attack. He likes to get takedowns and put the pressure on. He works decent takedowns and has good striking skills that are still improving over 46 professional fights. Healy is a fighter who has incredible heart and a will that is near impossible to break; he is tough. He is also well-conditioned and will without a doubt be ready for a 15 minute war with the Russian. Fight Prediction: I think both fighters will have their moments in this back-and-forth fight that will likely see Nurmagomedov edging it out. Gabe’s Pick: Khabib Nurmagomedov by Split Decision (28-29, 29-28, 29-28) Gabe’s Recommended Plav: Over 2.5 rounds -185 big and Nurmagomedov by Decision +155 small.
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