Jon "Bones" Jones and Glover Teixeira's clash for the light heavyweight title highlights a loaded card for Saturday night's UFC 172 event in Baltimore.
While Jones looks to solidify one of the sport's most impressive title reigns with another successful defense, Teixeira has not dropped a fight since 2005. Bones most recently derailed Alexander Gustafsson in a five-round classic, while Teixeira defeated Ryan Bader with a first-round TKO.
The title bout represents Saturday night's marquee draw, but there are plenty of other bouts to excite MMA fans. Luke Rockhold has a fierce challenger ahead of him in Tim "The Barbarian" Boetsch, and Phil Davis is out to prove he's worthy of main event status in his fight with Anthony "Rumble" Johnson.
Let's take a look at what the card has to offer in another enticing UFC tilt.
Where: Baltimore Arena, Baltimore, Maryland
When: Saturday, April 26 at 10 p.m. ET
Watch: Pay-per-view (check local cable provider)
Live Stream: UFC.TV (subscription required)
|Fighter 1||Fighter 2||Weight Class||Prediction|
|Jon Jones (c)||vs.||Glover Teixeira||Light Heavyweight||Jones|
|Phil Davis||vs.||Anthony Johnson||Light Heavyweight||Davis|
|Luke Rockhold||vs.||Tim Boetsch||Middleweight||Rockhold|
|Jim Miller||vs.||Yancy Medeiros||Lightweight||Miller|
|Max Holloway||vs.||Andre Fili||Featherweight||Fili|
Luke Rockhold vs. Tim Boetsch
Rockhold is out for redemption after suffering an early knockout loss to Vitor Belfort last May. In his way stands Boetsch, a brawler who has lost two of his last three bouts in the third round.
The defeat against Belfort hit Rockhold hard. As he told Yahoo! Sports' Kevin Iole, that blemish on his record will haunt him throughout his career.
I want that fight back. My goal is not to be the champion, not to win a belt or anything else. I want to be the best in the world. You only live once and so the way I see it, it's worth it to try to go out and be the best at something. Even if I become champion, I can't say I'm the best in the world while I still have that loss on my record.
After earning five straight submission victories in the opening round, Rockhold has not made an opponent tap out since 2009. Yet he's earned three swift first-round knockouts, most recently cleaning out Costas Philippou during the opening minutes.
The jiu-jitsu fighter is a balanced tactician in the Octagon, armed with speed and well versed in all three areas of submission, striking and takedowns. One way or the other, he'll find a way to beat Boetsch.
Prediction: Rockhold by TKO
Phil Davis vs. Anthony Johnson
Davis has his sights set on grander pastures, focusing more attention on Jon Jones than his actual opponent.
Rather than focusing on his upcoming bout with Jackson, "Mr. Wonderful" used Monday's pre-fight conference call to poke Jones. He questioned the validity of his last victory over Gustafsson, claiming Jones' opponent made him "look like a pirate."
Phil Davis said Gustafsson hit Jones so much in the right eye he started to look like a pirate.— UFCONFOX (@UFCONFOX) April 21, 2014
He didn't change his tune during Thursday's media day.
I'm hanging Jon jones upside down. But not for the last time. pic.twitter.com/cyzE8CCeq3— Phil Davis (@PhilMrWonderful) April 24, 2014
Davis has reason to exude confidence after winning his last three fights. The 29-year-old, who boasts a 12-1 record, is sculpted like a Marvel superhero with superior wrestling skills. Johnson, on the other hand, was last seen in UFC submitting to Belfort two years ago.
While Davis is the rightful favorite on paper, he could get in his own way by investing his time marketing a future fight with Jones. Johnson can take Davis down if he's not careful, but Mr. Wonderful should live up to the nickname with a decisive victory.
Prediction: Davis by submission
Jon Jones vs. Glover Teixeira
Although Teixeira enters the biggest fight of his career on a hot streak, he doesn't have the chops to defeat Jones in the main event.
Who will win the light heavyweight title bout?
A Chuck Liddell disciple, Teixeira is a brawler, averaging 6.91 strikes per minute to Jones' 4.15, per UFC.com. While that style has served him so far, he'll struggle to make much leeway against Jones, who is faster with a wider reach.
Teixeira also has no experience fighting five rounds, which could hurt the 34-year-old if neither man quickly takes care of business. Although Jones is eight years younger, he holds more experience on the grand stage.
Bank on Jones cementing his seventh winning title defense to gain his 20th overall victory.
Prediction: Jones by decision.