The UFC hosts its third event in ten days, this one the crown jewel of the bunch as the organization stages its first event in Baltimore, Md., this time with UFC light heavyweight Jon Jones defending his crown against Glover Teixeira. After the narrow victory over Alexander Gustafsson, questions now linger about Jones' vulnerability. Those questions are compounded by the undefeated UFC run Teixeira has been on.
Will Jon Jones be able to retain his title or is Glover Teixeira finally the guy to take his belt from him? I answer these questions and more with my predictions for Saturday's fights.
What: UFC 172: Jones vs. Teixeira
Where: Baltimore Arena, Baltimore, Md.
When: Saturday, the two-fight Fight Pass card starts at 7 p.m. ET, the four-fight Fox Sports 1 card starts at 8 p.m. and the five-fight main card starts on pay-per-view at 10 p.m.
Jon Jones vs. Glover Teixeira
What do we know about Glover Teixeira and what do we think we know? Those are the key questions here and your answer(s) will determine what sort of prediction you give for this bout. What we know for sure is Teixeira is elite, a top 10 light heavyweight in the world. We know he has well-rounded skills, is a heavy puncher, at times a bit reckless, but proactive in all positions or phases.
We don't know much beyond that. Teixeira might actually be the best light heavyweight in the sport, but to date, we don't have clear cut proof that he is. All we have is his resume, which while impressive, doesn't contain enough to credit him as being the division's best. That doesn't mean he can't or won't win. It just means if you're picking him, you're doing so based off of the unseen, not the seen.
I'm going to take Jones, partly because what we've seen from Teixeira has been spectacular, but inconclusive as it relates to competing against someone the likes of Jones. The Brazilian can be a touch reckless. In terms of striking, he's also very much a head hunter. That makes him dangerous, but also somewhat predictable. Against a striker and fighter as creative as Jones - especially one who manages reach so well - that's going to be a liability. I also don't think Teixeira, despite his strong jiu-jitsu credentials, is going to be much of a threat off of his back, although I am assuming Jones will be able to put him there. If you're looking for likelihood and what we know, Jones is the pick to make.
Of course, I could be absolutely wrong, but I'm not of the belief Davis is going to have significant trouble getting Johnson to the mat. That isn't to say he'll be able to do it at will or whenever he wants, but that he'll be able to do it enough each round, accrue points and even threaten a stoppage. If I'm wrong and Johnson can keep it standing, well, all bets are off. But I'm a firm believer in Davis' ability to manage a clock in a professional MMA bout and properly strategize an attack. He takes all the time he needs to get the job done right. I'm not sure I see Davis pressuring him into doing anything else.
I suspect Rockhold is going to absolutely cruise here. His takedown defense is sensational, gas tank unending and striking far more dynamic than Boetsch's style. If Rockhold took Boetsch lightly, I suppose anything is possible, but Rockhold is probably looking to build on his most recent win. I'd be shocked if the AKA product showed up unprepared, and as long as he's ready, he has all the requisite skill to get it done.
Medeiros is filling in on (sort of) short notice and while I admire his courage, it's hard to see how anything is going to happen here other than him getting smoked. Medeiros can absolutely crack, but I'd be shocked if Miller kept this fight standing for a nanosecond longer than absolutely necessary. Medeiros dealing with a high-level lightweight who can force his opponent to work from disadvantageous positions on his terms is enough for me to given the long-time UFC veteran the nod here.
This one is close and I wouldn't be surprised with a win going to either competitor here. Holloway has shown flashes of brilliance, but the ability to be overwhelmed as well. Fili is an interesting prospect, but his upside is basically totally unknown. I'll go with the more known commodity in Holloway, who showed the ability to make necessary adjustments in his last fight in the middle of the bout. He has respectable striking and is beginning to show signs of veteran savvy. That should carry him to victory even over an aggressive upstart in Fili.
From the preliminary card:
Joseph Benavides def. Tim Elliott
Takanori Gomi def. Isaac Vallie-Flagg
Bethe Correira def. Jessamyn Duke
Vagner Rocha def. Joe Ellenberger
Danny Castillo def. Charlie Brenneman
Chris Beal def. Patrick Williams