Jon Jones will defend his title for the seventh time on Saturday night. This time, he faces one of his biggest challenges yet—the streaking Glover Teixeira.
Teixeira hasn't lost a fight since 2005 and is currently riding a 20-fight winning streak. However, pushing that streak to 21 won't be easy against the lengthy Jones.
Jones technically hasn't lost a fight in professional MMA. The lone blemish on his 19-1-0 record was a disqualification against Matt Hamill in 2009 for throwing illegal downward elbows—to that point, Jones was dominating the fight.
The 26-year-old champion's biggest advantage over his 34-year-old opponent is his length.
Jones boasts an impressive 84.5" reach, while Teixeira comes in at 76". This will be a problem for the Brazilian, as Teixeira is a capable striker, but Jones is a much better takedown artist.
With the upper hand going to Jones in terms of wrestling, Teixeira will be forced to attempt to get inside Jones' reach to produce devastating blows and knock his opponent off balance.
That's a tall order for Teixeira.
Jones knows exactly how to use every inch of his length, pummeling opponents with a flurry of punches, knees and elbows right out of the gate.
When Teixeira attempts to get inside leverage, one slight misstep will give Jones the opportunity to land a clean shot and continue his ground-and-pound ways.
This is not to say Jones is impenetrable in this manner.
During his last fight against Alexander Gustafsson, the champ needed a strong final two rounds to gain the decision. Early in the fight, the Swede was able to pick his way inside, landing punches and taking down Jones several times.
Jones reflected on his fight with Gustafsson during an interview with Elias Cepeda of Yahoo Sports:
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. I did some of the cardio tests that I normally do and my numbers weren't the same. Me knowing that, I still went into the fight thinking, 'Well, since I've performed excellent, maybe I'll still perform really really high, do really good and the fight may be a little closer if I just put half the effort in. I learned a lesson the hard way that you have to give full effort.
Certainly, Teixeira will look to that fight as a blueprint for Saturday.
It all comes down to how Jones uses his length.
If Teixeira can get inside in the same way that Gustafsson did, his devastating strikes could end Jones' reign. If he can't, Jones should cruise to yet another successful title defense.
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