If everyone is to be believed, UFC 172's main event between Jon Jones and Glover Teixeira is already over. The public categorically supports Bones rattling off his seventh straight successful title defense on Saturday night in Baltimore.
Yet Teixeira has not lost a fight in nine years, entering the light heavyweight championship showdown with a 22-2 record. The underdog has his work cut out for him, but an upset should not be expelled from the realm of possibility.
One thing is for sure: Jones is not going to let complacency rear its ugly head. According to B/R's Jeremy Botter, the champion said he was not his best during his last victory over Alexander Gustafsson.
I definitely know that I performed better in the past. It humbled me. A good humbling is always good, though. And it also let me know that I have heart. I trained my butt off to not have any close fights. And now that I’ve gone through a close fight—or a war, as some would call it—now I know even more about myself. I know when the going gets rough, I’m not going to give up.
A disqualification represents the only blemish on Jones' record, and he'll look to keep it that way against Teixeira, who can shock the world with a colossal win.
Jones' Blueprint to Victory: Chip Away with Strikes
A responsible, deliberate plan centered on a hearty dosage of standing strikes will propel Jones to another victory.
Although Teixeira boasts a jiu-jitsu background, he doesn't necessarily hold an advantage on the mat. Jones is comfortable fighting on the ground, but he shouldn't let it come to that.
Bones holds a massive reach advantage over his opponent, touting an 84.5" measurement over Teixeira's 76" mark. The champion must thoroughly exploit that edge by keeping a safe distance from the heavy hitter while gradually sinking strikes of his own throughout the evening.
He does not need a memorable finish to retain the title. If the two men are left to test their skills over the full five rounds, Bones sports an advantage over Teixeira, who is eight years older yet inexperienced fighting more than three rounds.
If the champion maintains his composure and plays this fight smart, he'll retain the belt. That puts all the pressure on the challenger to make something happen.
Teixeira's Blueprint to Victory: Steal a KO
Teixeira dared to dream big with MMA Fighting's Guilherme Cruz, offering up the best-case scenario for his clash with Jones.
In a perfect world, I’ll win via first-round knockout. But I believe it’s going to be a tough fight. Jon Jones is an excellent fighter, so I expect a tough bout. I will be ready for five rounds. I was ready to go five rounds against (Ryan) Bader and will be ready now, so we’ll see who will leave the cage as the champion.
He's ready to go five rounds, but it'd be best if he didn't.
The challenger simply can't match wits with Jones in toe-to-toe combat. If the judges are left to decide the winner, the title won't change hands. Jones won't be outclassed in that fashion.
Who will win the UFC 172 main event?
Six of Teixeira's last seven UFC victories have come by KO or submission, with the sole exception being a unanimous victory over Rampage Jackson through three rounds. Nowhere in there has he needed to last five rounds in the Octagon.
The Brazilian has no room for error against Jones. He'll need to stay aggressive, swing hard and hope he doesn't miss. It takes just one blow to seize the crown, and that's the only way Teixeira can steal a victory.
Prediction: Jones by unanimous decision
The champion can win by trading barbs and could even make Teixeira tap out on the mat. While he has a few portals to success, the challenger is too dependent on landing a big blow. Jones will once again show he is a premier fighter by earning a convincing victory over Teixeira.