The UFC picked a heck of a way to introduce itself to Baltimore.
In what will be the UFC’s first event in the city, light heavyweight champion Jon "Bones" Jones will look to defend his crown against Glover Teixeira on Saturday at UFC 172. You would be hard-pressed to find a fighter who has more momentum right now than Teixeira, but Jones is the champion for a reason.
Jones recently discussed the upcoming clash, among other things, with Ariel Helwani of MMAFighting.com:
Without further ado, let’s look at a few storylines to watch for in the light heavyweight title fight.
Something Has to Give
There is no other way to put it: Something has to give when these two titans clash on Saturday.
Jones has successfully defended his title six times, and the only loss on his resume came in the form of a disqualification in 2009 to Matt Hamill. Jones was winning that bout until he threw illegal downward elbows, ending his undefeated mark for good.
On the flip side, Teixeira has lost twice before, but he's riding a 20-fight win streak. In fact, he hasn’t lost since 2005 in just his fourth professional contest.
These two fighters haven't lost in years, which means someone is going to experience unfamiliar territory on Saturday night.
Reach Versus Striking Speed
The key to the match may be the reach of Jones going up against the punching and striking speed of Teixeira.
According to UFC.com, Teixeira lands 6.91 significant strikes per minute compared to Jones' 4.15. However, the champ's accuracy checks in at 54.23 percent, while Teixeira is only at 47.97 percent. Teixeira has definitely been known to take chances, which partially explains the lower accuracy total, but if he can connect on a flurry of strikes, he may take control of the fight.
On the flip side is the significant reach advantage that Jones brings to the table.
According to CBS Sports, Jones’ unofficial reach is 84.5 inches, while Teixeira’s is 76 inches.
Look for Jones, who has better accuracy and a longer reach, to counterbalance the striking speed of Teixeira.
It will be difficult for the Brazilian to avoid Jones’ strikes throughout that match because of the champ's reach advantage, which means that striking speed may not come into play as much as some might expect.
How Much Substance Is Behind Teixeira’s 20 Straight Wins?
Luke Thomas of MMAFighting.com brings up an interesting point when discussing Teixeira’s 20 straight victories:
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.
He simply hasn’t faced anyone of Jones' caliber yet. That may ultimately not matter, but if Jones gets off to a quick start, we could see some self-doubt creep into the challenger's approach.
That isn’t a winning formula against someone as dominant as Jones.