UFC 172: Preview: Jones Vs. Teixeira

1)   Champ Jon Jones Entering Gauntlet-



When you stop and consider that Jon Jones’s list of victims already include decisive victories over former world champions Lyoto Machida, Rashad Evans, Quinton Jackson, Vitor Belfort, and Maurcio “Shogun” Rua, it’s hard to buy that the toughest stretch of his career lies ahead. But many fans and business insiders will tell you that perhaps the most challenging opposition of his career is coming his way beginning with this Saturday night. Sure his UFC 172 opponent Glover Teixeira may not have the credentials of Jon’s past opponents, but he is a unique challenge nonetheless. Vegas odds makers are giving Teixeira about a 20-percent chance at victory when he challenges Jon Jones for his Light Heavyweight world championship, yet some of the fight game insiders will tell you, this fight will be much more competitive than those odds suggest. But if Jones wins, like he is expected to, it’s what lies ahead for the champion that has fans buzzing. Alexander Gustafsson is already penciled in for another title shot against the UFC 172 winner. Than after Gustafsson, awaits Daniel Cormier, the undefeated former Olympian and top-ranked Heavyweight contender who now calls 205-pounds home. After Jon Jones barley survived his last title defense against Alexander Gustafsson, in which he squeaked out a decision, fans need a reminder of what makes Jon Jones truly special. If the champ can defeat these three opponents consecutively, I think it is time we begin to discuss Jon Jones as the greatest mixed martial artist ever. Defeating all three opponents is no guarantee however, and on Saturday night Jones kicks off the toughest stretch of opponents in his career when he defends against Teixeira. Jon Jones has crushed every opponent he has faced in his 14-fight UFC career except for his last title defense against Gustafsson this past September. Can Jon Jones return to his old dominant ways, or has Gustafsson proved Jones is beatable and it’s only a matter of time before he relinquishes the world title? UFC 172 should answer most of these questions.


2)   Teixeira’s Title Shot; A Real Feel Good Story-

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Rarely in the fight game do feel good stories pan out. Glover Teixeira will have his chance Saturday night to make sure his ends with a world title around his waist. For those who aren’t familiar with Glover’s past issues, he was Chuck Liddell’s primary training partner during Liddell’s dominant run as world champion. Eventually Glover encountered visa issues, and he was forced to leave the United States. He was not allowed to compete in the States for close to five full years. He complied a 15–fight winning streak while fighting in his native Brazil, until he resolved his visa issues and finally entered the UFC in 2012. Since than he has racked up his winning streak to 20 consecutive fights, which brings us to his world title shot against champion Jon Jones. Glover was kept off the national stage for a long time because of visa issues that he couldn’t control, but if you hear him speak about the issues he calls it a blessing in disguise. He now believes the experience he has acquired over the years is what is going to help him become world champion, and make up for all the lost time. I don’t like to pick sides when discussing these story lines, but it’s hard not to get behind Glover here. He wasted some prime years of his career waiting for his opportunity to compete with the worlds best. Now that the opportunity is here, can he capitalize and give us MMA fans the feel good story of 2014?


3)   “Mr. Wonderful” Talking It Up-

Phil Davis


One of the big storylines with the media leading up to UFC 172, is how the usually reserved and well-mannered Phil Davis has began to create some headlines with brash comments. To be fair to Phil, he was clearly provoked by UFC President Dana White, who told reporters that Phil wasn’t showing the initiative he would like to see from a contender as highly ranked as he is. “Phil Davis is like ‘eh, I’ll hang out at No. 4 here.’ He’s not that guy that comes across to me like ‘I F-king want it. I want to be the champ. I want to be the best in the world.’ He’s just sort of “eh,’” said White. So how does Davis respond? By taking every opportunity he has in front of an audience leading up to UFC 172 to call out Jon Jones and verbally bash the champ till he receives his chance at the world title. For anyone who has followed Phil’s career, this is a pretty interesting turn of events. While he has always had charisma, he never used it to trash on other fighters. I am one of the few MMA writers and fans who actually scored Phil’s last bout against Machida for Davis. I thought in a fight that lacked any real damage, Phil’s takedowns were enough to win rounds and the decision. I am in the minority with that opinion, but with that victory over Machida, Phil is a top 3-contender in the division. If he can finish Anthony “Rumble” Johnson, and just as importantly, keep up the trash talk, Phil could find himself in a title fight to start off 2015. Will Phil’s decision to trash talk motivate him or set him up for a let down? We will find out Saturday night.


4)   Heavier, Scarier, “Rumble”-


I can only imagine the casual fan going into a bar Saturday night to watch the UFC and seeing Anthony “Rumble” Johnson in a Light Heavyweight co-main-event. Like “Wait, wasn’t that guy a 170-pounder? The heck is he doing fighting at 205-pounds?” A lot of fans out there don’t even realize after Johnson got cut from the UFC in January 2012, that he went on to re-invent himself as a Light Heavyweight. A pretty good one at that, after all he did beat former UFC Heavyweight Champion Andrei Arlovski in a Heavyweight contest last March. Johnson still carries his trademark power at 205-pounds, and just looks overall healthier at the weight class. Johnson’s first UFC run was tainted by failed weight cuts that often took a toll on Johnson and he become incredibly inconsistent. Johnson is a welcomed addition to the UFC Light Heavyweight division that is always in need for fresh challengers to face champion Jon Jones. Johnson has been thrown right into the deep end of the 205-pound division seeing how he is facing the UFC’s 4th ranked Light Heavyweight Phil Davis in his return to the promotion. The craziest part about Anthony Johnson is that even at Light Heavyweight, he still has a distinct size advantage over a lot of his opponents. Which highlights just how massive this guy is, how he ever made 170-pounds I’ll never understand. But what is important is that he has been a quality 205-pounder so far during his limited time in the division. If he can upset Phil Davis, than the sky is the limit for ‘Rumble” at Light Heavyweight.


5)   Luke Rockhold’s Comeback Trail-



In theory, one loss shouldn’t take to much steam out of a fighter’s momentum. However, if the loss was as spectacular as Vitor Belfort’s spinning wheel kick knockout of Luke Rockhold, than it can definitely bring a fighter’s momentum to a screeching halt. Rockhold came into his UFC debut in May of 2013, and faced contender Vitor Belfort in his home country of Brazil. What followed was arguably 2013’s best knockout that sent Rockhold to the back of the line of 185-pound contenders. Earlier this year Rockhold began his tour of redemption by stopping Costas Philippou in the first round by liver kick. Now the former Strikeforce Middleweight champion will attempt to make it two in a row in the UFC at UFC 172 when he faces Tim “The Barbarian” Boestch. Rockhold will probably need a few more wins to be in serious title discussion at Middleweight, but what he really needs is quick decisive finishes to speed the process up. It’s going to take a lot of work to make fans forget about Rockhold being knocked out in brutal fashion by Belfort, but I believe Rockhold is talented enough that it is only a matter of time till he regains the momentum Belfort took from him. Can Rockhold live up the lofty expectations placed on him just a year ago? Or will winning Strikeforce gold be the highlight of his career?

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Fight Picks-

Main Card-

Jon Jones Over Glover Teixeira

Phil Davis Over Anthony Johnson

Luke Rockhold Over Tim Boestch

Jim Miller Over Yancy Medeiros

Max Holloway Over Andre Fili


Joseph Benavidez Over Tim Elliott

Isaac Vallie-Flag Over Takanori Gomi

Bethe Correia Over Jessamyn Duke

Danny Castillo Over Charlie Brenneman

Chris Beal Over Patrick Williams

Total Fight Record Since UFC Fight Night 39-


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