UFC 172: Jones vs. Teixeira goes down this Saturday night from the Baltimore Arena in Baltimore, Maryland. Although the event has taken numerous blows in the form of injuries, the card remains solid from top to bottom. Jon Jones attempts to successfully defend the light heavyweight title for the seventh consecutive time. Standing in his way is arguably the hardest puncher he has ever fought, Glover Teixeira. They’ll be a rumble sighting in Baltimore this weekend, as Anthony Johnson makes his highly anticipated return to the UFC to take on Phil Davis. In a featured bout, former Strikeforce middleweight champion, Luke Rockhold, will look to continue his march to a title shot. His opponent, Tim Boetsch, will look to derail any talks of a title shot, at least for Rockhold. Jim Miller, who was all set to fight Bobby Green before Green got hurt in training, now takes on Yancy Medeiros. The first fight of the main card features two of the youngest UFC fighters, as Max Holloway takes on Andre Fili. The undercard also features what are sure to be some crowd pleasing fights. Now, without further ado, here are my predictions for UFC 172.
Max Holloway vs. Andre Fili
Max Holloway picked up a much needed win back in January, stopping Will Chope in the second round. The win snapped a two-fight losing streak for the young Hawaiian and reminded us why he is highly regarded by fans and media alike. It is hard to believe that at only 22, Holloway has already fought seven times for the UFC. Even harder to believe that he made his UFC debut at the ripe old age of 20. “Blessed” is a very gifted fighter, capable of picking apart his opponents in devastating fashion. While he has had mixed results in the octagon, Holloway remains one of the most exciting fighters to watch.
If you want to know what to do when making your UFC debut, watch the highlight of Andre Fili’s fight against Brock Larson. Despite taking the fight on short notice, Fili completely ran through Larson, finishing him in round two. At only 23-years-old, Fili is already 13-1, with all but three of those wins coming via stoppage. As if his skills weren’t enough, Fili also has what I like to consider the best nickname in all of MMA, “Touchy.” Fili is yet another Team Alpha Male member making waves.
This is probably the toughest fight on the entire card to predict. Both fighters have a multitude of ways to defeat you, but this one is going to come down to who can score more points and implement their gameplan. I cannot see anyone earning the stoppage win here. So I’m going to go with Fili, who I believe will do enough to earn the decision win.
Prediction: Fili via unanimous decision
Jim Miller vs. Yancy Medeiros
Jim Miller steps inside the octagon for the first time this year. A winner of two of his last three fights, Miller will now look to capitalize on the momentum gained in December when he defeated Fabricio Camoes. Fighting for the 17th time in the UFC, Miller is hoping to string together enough victories to make it back to the title discussion, as he was in 2011. Armed with a brilliant BJJ game and his crowd pleasing style, Miller will try to make quick work of a fighter that many believe should not be sharing the same cage as him.
Damn if you do, damn if you don’t. Such is the case for Yancy Medeiros. He was scheduled to fight Joe Ellenberger on the prelims, but what pulled from the fight, in order for him to take Bobby Green’s spot. So while it is great that he is now on the PPV portion of the card, he goes from fighting a very good fighter in Ellenberger, to fighting an even better fighter in Miller. In light of his recent results inside the octagon, Medeiros could be facing a cut from the promotion if he loses.
This is just too tough a fight for Medeiros. I understand that it is a good idea to go from a fight in the prelims to one on the main card, but fighting Jim Miller on short notice is not a good idea, not even for the champion of the division. While I do not see this fighting ending via stoppage, I like Miller to dominate this fight from the opening bell to the final bell.
Prediction: Miller via unanimous decision
Luke Rockhold vs. Tim Boetsch
Although it took Rockhold eight months before he returned after his KO loss to Vitor, he made it count by destroying Costa Philippou back in January. The win put Rockhold back in the thick of things at 185, and showed us why he is so valuable to the future of the division. Rockhold’s athleticism, striking ability, and size make him one of the most imposing figures in the middleweight division. If he continues developing his already superb striking, Rockhold could become a force at 185.
I’m not sure what Tim Boetsch has done to deserve a match-up with Rockhold. After all, you’d be hard-pressed to find people who thought that Boetsch defeated C.B. Dollaway back in October. The gift decision snapped a two-fight losing streaks, but in the eyes of most people, Boetsch is now on a three-fight losing streak. But yet here we are. Boetsch continues to get these high profile fights.
Do I even have to tell you who I’m picking in this one? Boetsch couldn’t handle Philippou, Munoz, or Dollaway. How is he going to deal with Rockhold? Boetsch is not a bad fighter and for all intents and purposes, he is a dangerous fighter. But fighting a guy like Rockhold means that there are equal amounts of danger on the feet and on the ground. Rockhold wins this one by TKO and then Boetsch goes on to fight Vitor Belfort.
Prediction: Rockhold via 1st round TKO
Phil Davis vs. Anthony Johnson
Phil Davis has certainly had plenty to say, lately. While he should be weary of what Anthony Johnson can do to him, he is worrying about Jon Jones and whether or not he is ducking anyone. What’s crazy is that he draws the conclusion that Jones doesn’t want to fight him. Less he not forget that Jones dismantled Rashad Evans, who easily defeated him. He also has a short-term memory about his fight with Lyoto Machida last August, and how he was gifted a decision win. Look, Davis is a very talented fighter. But he has a tall mountain to climb here. Best he focuses on the task at hand, than on what may or may not take place in the future.
I am so excited to see what Anthony Johnson does in his return to the UFC. In the two years that he was gone, Johnson has gone 6-0 with four wins by T(KO). Although most of his fights took place at 205, he did have one fight at heavyweight and one at a catchweight of 195. Hard to believe that this man once fought at 170. Now at his natural weight class, “Rumble” merely has to worry about what goes on inside the cage come fight night. Gone are the days where he has to cut an insane amount of weight. I cannot shake the thought that Johnson could potentially become a title challenger with a win on Saturday night.
Davis is the favorite here and rightly so. However, Johnson presents a unique challenge here, one that Davis and his fans should take seriously. While not as technical as Lyoto Machida, Johnson is arguably a harder hitter than him. With Phil Davis favoring his striking lately, he could be in for a long night if he doesn’t attempt to mix in some takedowns. I believe he’ll do just that, and in the process, spoil Johnson’s return.
Prediction: Davis via unanimous decision
Jon Jones vs. Glover Teixeira
Simply put, Jon Jones is the best fighter on the planet. Heck, he may even be the greatest talent that’s ever stepped inside the octagon. For the past six months, Jones has taken some heavy criticism for how he’s handled the aftermath of his UFC 165 fight with Alexander Gustafsson. People, including Gus, have claimed that Jones didn’t want to fight Gus again. Nothing could be further from the truth. When people talk about the UFC 165 main event, they mention Gus. However, they fail to realize that Jones was the other half of the fight, and oh yeah, he WON. Jones, ever the sportsman, has handle everything in stride. He now faces the hardest hitter he has ever fought. How he handles this situation will go a long way to determining how he is received by fans going forward.
20 straight wins is what Glover Teixeira’s winning streak stands at. Those 20 straight came after Glover started his career 2-2. Those 20 wins include 12 wins by T(KO), six wins by submission, and two by decision. While Gustafsson represents the best fighter that Jones has ever fought, Glover is the most dangerous. He is essentially a Brazillian Chuck Liddell, who is arguably more skilled. With virtually no achillies heel, Teixeira has the rare ability to end the fight wherever and however he wants. He is a very real threat to win a fight against anyone, with the exception of…
Jon Jones should be able to win this fight easily by using his reach advantage, which is about 8 1/2 inches. After watching Teixeira’s last fight against Bader, I came to the conclusion that any fighter that gets tagged so easily by Bader, won’t have a hard time having his face connect with the punches and elbows of Jon Jones. Oh, there’s also the fact that Bader nearly stopped Glover. I understand that Teixeira weathered the storm, but the eyes are the only thing that speak the truth. Teixeira is a very good fighter. Jones is an all-time great. “Bones” wins this by submission after picking Glover apart from the outside.
Prediction: Jones via 3rd round submission
Preliminaries Quick Picks:
Joseph Benavidez over Tim Elliott via TKO
Takanori Gomi over Isaac Vallie-Flagg via UD
Jessamyn Duke over Bethe Correia via UD
Charlie Brennemen over Danny Castillo via SD
Chris Beal over Patrick Williams via TKO