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Don’t look now, but the UFC’s light heavyweight division is in upheaval.

Not at the top, of course. Jon Jones did what we all expected him to do in easily beating Glover Teixeira in the main event at UFC 172 to retain his championship. But Jones may have a new contender, and it’s one none of us expected.

After Anthony Johnson’s dominant win over Phil Davis in the UFC 172 co-main event, it’s clear we have a new name alongside Daniel Cormier, Dan Henderson and Alexander Gustafsson.

I picked Davis to win. Most of us did. I figured Davis would be able to get Johnson to the canvas and grind out a decision. His wrestling is nearly peerless in mixed martial arts, and it was his absolute best path to victory.

David Becker

It's “the most stacked card we’ve ever done.”

It's “crazy that Glover Teixeira is a 5-1 underdog.”

These are but two of the messages being championed by UFC President Dana White as he finishes his sell job for Saturday's UFC 172 event in Baltimore.

He is a fight promoter. It is his job to entice you to plop on your couch, pick up your remote and order his pay-per-view. And sometimes that job requires him to say things that have little to no basis in reality, even if it means selling an endless string of events with the same pitch: Tune in. This is the best thing we’ve ever put together.

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It doesn't take long when you sit down for your first Jon Jones fight to realize he's a little bit different than your average UFC fighter. While others mean-mug, flex, scream and smirk their way into the cage, Jones chooses a simple, yet decidedly unmasculine, cartwheel. 

At first glance, it seems soft. You might ask yourself: What's wrong with this guy? Does he even want to bang? Is this a fight or a gymnastics recital? 

Of course, when you think about it a bit, it's the most primal entrance of all. Jones is laying out to the world, and especially his opponent, the very attributes that make him special. From fingertip to toes, his enormous wingspan and height advantage are displayed with an arrogance so subtle and blase that we don't even question it anymore.

It's this reach, a physical gift Jones uses to his utmost advantage, that has allowed the champion to win seven consecutive UFC title fights. Jones, simply put, can reach out and touch his opponent with his feet and his hands while his foe is still swinging at nothing but air. 

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We’ve come to expect a certain amount of puffery in the fight game.

With pay-per-views to be sold and arenas to fill up, you can’t blame an enterprising MMA promoter for wanting to tell a good story—even if it isn’t totally grounded in reality.

Such has been the case during the lead-up to Saturday’s UFC 172, as the industry’s best spin doctors have been out in force to prop up Glover Teixeira as light heavyweight champion Jon Jones’ most dangerous opponent yet.

Certainly, Teixeira is a capable, heavy-handed competitor who has rightfully earned his spot as No. 1 contender. He could absolutely defeat Jones if he can load up and catch the champion slipping with a big shot. Through five Octagon appearances against mostly middling talent, though, Teixeira just hasn’t shown the skills to justify the hyperbole currently being heaped at his feet.

The Obsessions of Jon Jones

By on April 23, 2014

119k reads


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ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — It's 8:45 in the morning, and I'm standing in the lobby of the famed Jackson/Winkeljohn Mixed Martial Arts gym. Photos of the gym's fighters through the years line the walls, and the gray reception desk is covered with boxes and mail. 

Jackson/Winkeljohn is not what you expect a famous gym to look like. It has churned out champions for years and has been home to some of the most famous fighters in the world. Given this, one might expect a large building with high-tech equipment and all the latest amenities designed to produce incredible athletes.

That is not the case.

The gym is modest, located in what might best be described as a sketchy part of town. It is one of those places where, unless you know exactly where you’re going and what you’re looking for, you might not find it at all and end up in a place you don’t want to be.

There are mats and there is a cage, but not much else.

Aaron Sweet/Getty Images

For the first time ever, the UFC will bring its traveling circus to Baltimore on Saturday night, and the best fighter in the world is coming along for the ride.

Jon Jones has not competed since a narrow win over Alexander Gustafsson in September. This time around, he defends his championship against a top light heavyweight with an entirely different skill set than any opponent he has faced thus far.

Glover Teixeira has long been lauded by hardcore fans as one of the best light heavyweights in mixed martial arts, but visa issues prevented him from making his Octagon debut until 2012.

He has not lost a fight since 2005. His 20-fight winning streak is impressive. But does he have what it takes to compete with one of the best talents the sport has ever seen? And, more importantly for our purposes, is he worth gambling on? We’ll take a look at the main event and the rest of the main card in the following pages.

USA Today

Let’s all say it together: Ugh.

Not to be the bearer of soul-crushing news, but the tea leaves indicate a long-rumored, much-decried fight between Ronda Rousey and Gina Carano may still be in the offing.

Despite the UFC’s good and proper recent decision to book Rousey against Alexis Davis at July’s UFC 175, company president Dana White re-stoked the fires about a Carano superfight on Saturday, following UFC on Fox 11.

White reportedly emerged from last week’s meeting with Carano positively glowing and indicated he’s still hopeful a deal can get done. During the Fox event's media scrum he also defended the notion the fighter-turned-actress might step straight into a bout for Rousey’s gold.

Credit: Championship Fighting Alliance

Fallon Fox's fifteen minutes of fame was inevitable the moment she got a phone call that changed everything. 

It should have been a time for celebration, a dinner to celebrate the launch of something new. Fox, in just her second professional fight, had won in devastating fashion, knocking out poor Ericka Newsome with a brutal knee in the clinch.

The ringing phone, and the reporter on the other end, changed the mood, glee turning to gloom in just a few seconds. The gist?

"I know."

The reporter's words were as chilling as they were inevitable. Her secret, one she had kept close to her heart for seven years even from close friends such as her trainer Joe Smith, was about to become very, very public. 

USA Today

The last name is actually not that difficult if you just sound it out:


Written out on paper (or in a headline), it looks like a handful, but after the man in question solidified his position as the UFC’s fastest-rising lightweight prospect on Saturday, we’re all going to have to get comfortable with it.

Khabib Nurmagomedov is going to be in the conversation for a while.

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Phil Davis has always been known as a quiet man.

He is someone who goes in the cage to fight but keeps a low profile outside of it. He has never done much trash talking. When I interviewed him last week, he stressed the importance of winning his fights above all else, even in a promotion that consistently values entertaining fighters over those who win but do so in less than exciting fashion.

“Nothing to me is more important than winning. And there are a lot of guys like this. There are a lot of guys who can go out and get a knockout 50 percent of the time. The other 50 percent of the time, they’ll lose,” Davis said. “I’m not one of those guys. It’s great they can get a knockout. But more important than getting the knockout is getting the win.”

His mindset may be changing, however, after UFC President Dana White’s recent comments after the UFC on Fox post-fight press conference.