Is Glover Teixeira the one?
Jon Jones hasn't lost a fight in a little over four years, and even that was the result of a disqualification rather than an outright defeat. Now, the 34-year-old Brazilian has the chance to do what the best light heavyweight fighters in the world haven't done: beat Jones.
That fight is the main event of what promises to be an eventful UFC 172. Some of the company's more recent pay-per-views have been a little underwhelming, so it's important that Saturday night's event delivers.
Looking at the entire card, these four matches should provide the most excitement.
Joseph Benavidez vs. Tim Elliott
This is a fight that could easily be featured on the PPV. Joseph Benavidez has run through just about every top fighter in the flyweight division not named Demetrious Johnson, while Tim Elliott is in need of a high-profile victory after his loss to Ali Bagautinov back in Nov. 2013.
Elliott has such an unorthodox, unpredictable style that he may be able to spring the upset. Benavidez will no doubt have a hard time devising a game plan because it can be quickly rendered useless.
The key will be whether Benavidez gets an opening on the inside. Although six of his wins have come via knockout, Benavidez will no doubt look for his patented guillotine choke to end the fight.
Prediction: Benavidez via submission in Round 2
Luke Rockhold vs. Tim Boetsch
This is what you always want to read before a fight, per FoxSports.com's Marc Raimondi:
Tim Boetsch said he expects both he and Luke Rockhold to be in the emergency room after their fight Saturday.— Marc Raimondi (@marc_raimondi) April 23, 2014
Luke Rockhold got a nice bounce-back win against Costas Philippou in January, but he could still use another statement victory to make everyone forget about that defeat to Vitor Belfort in his UFC debut.
While Tim Boetsch isn't an elite contender in the middleweight division, he's tough as nails and has enough power to end the fight if Rockhold gives him the chance.
The problem for Boetsch is that Rockhold's wise enough to keep his distance, and more importantly, talented enough to stay away and still earn enough points to win the judges' scorecards. Rockhold will scientifically take Boetsch apart and coast to victory.
Prediction: Rockhold by unanimous decision
Phil Davis vs. Anthony Johnson
"I like Phil and I don’t want to throw Phil under the bus, but Phil needs to get over that mental hump," White said. I’ve got guys breathing down my neck for fights, like, 'I want this fight. I want that fight.' Phil Davis is like, 'Eh. I'll hang out around No. 4 here.' He’s not that guy that comes across to me like, 'I f---ing want it. I want to be the best in the world.'"
Davis responded in kind:
I try to let my fighting do the talking, but I’m going to have to let my talking do the talking for a little bit. If you want Phil Davis calling and your texting your phone every day, telling you he wants to fight Jon Jones, that’s fine. I thought that just winning would get that done, but that’s not necessarily true.
With Davis this motivated, he should come out and attack Anthony Johnson right from the opening bell. "Mr. Wonderful" won't be too reckless, but he'll stamp his authority in Rounds 1 and 2 before going in for the kill in the third.
One thing even White can recognize is Davis' ability to control a fight and devise a game plan.
If Mr. Wonderful wants a title shot against Jones, he'll need an emphatic victory over Johnson, and he knows it.
Prediction: Davis by submission in Round 3
Jon Jones vs. Glover Teixeira
How can you possibly bet against the best pound-for-pound fighter in the world and one of the best fighters of his generation?
Jones has shown no signs of slowing down, and Teixeira is too much of an unknown quantity to see how he wins this fight.
The Brazilian is no slouch, having won his last 20 fights—a fact not lost on Jones, per UFC on Fox:
Jones on keeping focus on Teixeira: “Just look at the guy’s record. The guy hasn’t lost a fight in 5 years. He’s beaten 20 people in a row."— UFCONFOX (@UFCONFOX) April 21, 2014
Teixeira has a ton of power, and if Jones isn't careful, he could find himself on his back. The challenger has no doubts about his ability to take the champion down with a few big blows, per UFC Tonight:
Glover Teixeira on Jon Jones: "I'm gonna touch this guy a couple times and he's gonna go down."— UFC Tonight (@UFCTonight) April 23, 2014
Looking at Teixeira's resume, he's never fought anyone close to the ability of Jones, and therein lies his biggest problem. What's worked for him in the past likely won't work on Jones. Nothing has fully prepared him for what he's about to face on Saturday.
"Bones" knows that if he stays on the outside and out of the reach of Teixeira, the fight is all his. He'll let Teixeira tire out as the fight goes on and end the proceedings in the third.
Prediction: Jones TKO in Round 3