The UFC 172 main event promises to be a thriller as Jon "Bones" Jones seeks to successfully defend his light heavyweight title for a record seventh time against Glover Teixeira.
Jones enters this bout at 19-1 and is ranked as the best pound-for-pound fighter while Teixeira hasn't lost since his fourth MMA fight and sports a record of 22-2, including 13 knockouts. Teixeira should be a worthy adversary, but given Jones' exceptional resume, it's hard to fathom he will let his title slip this time around even against such a strong adversary.
Here is a closer look at the marquee clash during Saturday's action at Baltimore Arena, including a final prediction as to how the fight will play out.
When: Saturday, April 26 at 10 p.m. ET
Where: Baltimore Arena, Baltimore, Maryland
Watch: Pay-per-view (check local cable provider)
Live Stream: UFC.tv (subscription required)
Analysis and Prediction
Teixeira is showing no shortage of confidence, as he's been an outstanding force and a challenger who Jones has willingly embraced to take on in his latest fight. Although will and desire can't be measured—and both of these men have plenty of it—the physical measurables seem to suggest Jones has a big advantage.
At age 26, Jones has an outstanding, complete MMA repertoire and is a little quicker than the heavy-hitting Teixeira. That will be key because Jones already has an edge in reach at 84.5" to Teixeira's 76", per CBSSports.com's Gregg Doyel.
Jones made some recent remarks about his last brutal showdown with Alexander Gustafsson that are sure to stir controversy, as he implied that he gave only 80 percent effort, per Yahoo Sports' Elias Cepeda:
I think for the first time in my career I really started to feel myself. I really started to think, "Maybe I've got this extraordinary talent and maybe I just can't be touched." I went 80 percent [against Gustafsson]. I'm not making any excuses. Gustafsson did a great job in the fight but I know that I had a lot more in me.
That candor is admirable, but it also implies that Jones thinks he's rather indomitable. The question is whether Jones will put forth what he considers 100 percent effort versus Teixeira. If Jones loses, those comments will raise questions and may impact his psychological approach to the Octagon.
There's no question that Jones is the favorite, but UFC president Dana White feels Teixeira's chances to pull off the improbable upset are being underestimated:
ESPN's Josh Gross is rather confident that Jones will be in for a serious bout, and he believes that Teixeira has all the tools and none of the pressure Jones will be feeling to come out on top:
This should be an absolute slugfest no matter what type of effort Jones is putting out because Teixeira is simply not wary of or intimidated by Jones. Fox Sports' Mike Chiappetta logged a key quote from Teixeira, who essentially guaranteed he'd take the title belt from Jones:
Both fighters are capable of wrestling well, delivering crushing knockout blows and are strong enough to submit opponents. It is a dream matchup that should go its full length, with neither Jones nor Teixeira giving much ground, thanks to their ability to absorb punishment and play defense when necessary.
The momentum should swing on counterstriking, which will play into Jones' favor and be enough to give him a unanimous decision triumph.
Prediction: Jones via unanimous decision
The perception is that Jones has more to lose in this fight than Teixeira, and that's true to an extent. But if he indeed is having issues staying in peak condition and giving maximum effort, nothing could galvanize him more moving forward than suffering his first true MMA loss as a professional at the hands of Teixeira.
Since Jones is far younger than the 34-year-old Teixeira, he has plenty of career left to recover. On the other hand, Teixeira has enjoyed a meteoric rise through the UFC, and losing this fight would be a devastating setback. There's no shame in losing to Jones since everyone who's faced him has had such limited success, but it's hard to argue that the Brazilian has no pressure on him at all.
All those factors figure to create compelling storylines to serve as the backdrop for this grand-finale fight at UFC 172. A win by either fighter would be a big boost for the promotion company, as it should be an epic clash regardless of the victor.