UFC 172 Predictions: Predicting the Winners of Every Main Card Fight
UFC 172 hits Baltimore Arena on Saturday night, bringing some fresh action to a sports town enjoying success with the Orioles and Ravens over the past few years.
Light heavyweight champion Jon Jones will defend his title against Glover Teixeira in the main event, while big names like Phil Davis, Luke Rockhold and Jim Miller will all compete on the undercard.
With the fights only a few short hours away, here are some predictions on who might have success on the pay-per-view main card.
Max Holloway vs. Andre Fili
This is an interesting way to open the UFC 172 main card, with two young featherweights clashing for some upward mobility. Both guys are still in the prospect stage of their careers, but a win in Baltimore might get some attention.
Holloway has struggled every time he's fought higher-level competition, but he usually looks good against guys ranked beneath him. That description applies to Fili, a 13-1 opponent who's never beaten anyone really relevant in his career and is below Holloway in the UFC pecking order.
That said, Fili might be an exception to Holloway's pattern here. He's got dynamite in his strikes and he's a capable grappler thanks to his time with Team Alpha Male. It's close but is probably his fight to lose.
Andre Fili defeats Max Holloway via submission, Round 2
Jim Miller vs. Yancy Medeiros
Miller is right on the fringe of being an elite lightweight, but every time he goes to jump the last hurdle to contendership, he suffers a misstep. At this point, at 30 years old and treading water in the lower half of the top 10, he simply can't afford another loss.
Fortunately, he'll be facing Yancy Medeiros, a game, young fighter taking the fight on a week's notice in a situation that definitely favors Miller. Medeiros was in camp to fight Joe Ellenberger before making the switch, and the transition to Miller's style might not be ideal.
Miller is a ruthless hunter of submissions with enough stand-up capacity to impose his will. He's also totally fearless and will try just about anything in any circumstance if he thinks it might net him a finish.
Medeiros might get there one day if he can fulfill his considerable potential, but it won't be against Miller this weekend.
Jim Miller defeats Yancy Medeiros via (T)KO, Round 3
Luke Rockhold vs. Tim Boetsch
Despite it flying largely under the radar as UFC 172 was hyped, Rockhold and Boetsch is an interesting clash of styles with notable implications in the increasingly wide open middleweight division.
Rockhold is a kickboxing threat with better grappling than he's credited for, while Boetsch is a powerful bully with the type of forceful wrestling that can earn him a win against anyone on a given night. Regardless of who comes out on top, there's a good chance the winner could push himself into a title eliminator by the end of the year with some trash talk and luck.
For how interesting the fight is in terms of style, in the cage, it should be Rockhold's to lose. There's no question that he's in better shape, and he's never had trouble holding his own against the powerful, bullying style of opponent. Look for him to simply outpace Boetsch over the course of three rounds.
Luke Rockhold defeats Tim Boetsch via unanimous decision
Phil Davis vs. Anthony Johnson
The UFC 172 co-main event is a battle between two guys who deserve credit for different reasons: Davis for his sudden willingness to talk his way into relevance after his fights couldn't do it, and Johnson for his willingness to reinvent himself at a weight he could actually make.
The fight itself is an interesting proposition, as Davis is a better athlete with an ace in the hole thanks to his elite wrestling. He's become more comfortable standing, but he's not good there, so he'll tend to go back to what he knows when things start to get heated in exchanges.
The thing is, he may not get that chance against the viciously powerful Johnson. A notorious knockout artist as a welterweight, his power has carried upward across two (two!!!) weight classes, where he's put multiple 205ers to sleep during his reinvention outside the UFC. He's also a capable wrestler, and though he's not on the level of Davis, he may do enough to sprawl and brawl his way to a stoppage.
While that does seem unlikely, and Johnson's time outside the UFC was more about learning to make weight than it was about fighting elite competition, every now and then, you have to pick a dog just for excitement's sake. Consider Johnson that dog.
Anthony Johnson defeats Phil Davis by (T)KO, Round 1
Jon Jones vs. Glover Teixeira
There's been plenty of talk about Jon Jones in the weeks ahead of his title defense at UFC 172 and hardly any about Glover Teixeira. Some might argue the Brazilian has a respectable chance of dethroning Jones, but most are picking the champion to retain in a romp.
That could be because he's technically, tactically and athletically better and has more time in the cage against the best of the best than Teixeira does. It could be because they're so excited about possible fights with Alex Gustafsson and Daniel Cormier that this weekend simply seems irrelevant.
Regardless of the reason, Jones is the favorite with just cause. He's simply better. That's not to say upsets can't happen, and Teixeira is a committed foe who won't simply wilt out of fear of standing across from him, but there's no clear path to victory for the challenger.
Look for Jones to feel him out in the first round on the feet, possibly with a late trip or throw to prove a point, and then go for the finish in the second or third round. Teixeira's will is the only thing that will decide his fate from there.
Jon Jones defeats Glover Teixeira by (T)KO, Round 3
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