UFC 172 is hitting Baltimore Saturday and today Kevin Iole and Elias Cepeda are breaking down the MMA card's three top fights. In the main event, UFC light heavyweight champion Jon Jones puts his belt on the line against Glover Teixeira.
In the co-main event, the exiled Anthony Johnson returns to the UFC, riding a six-fight win streak and ready to take on the promotion's best light heavyweights, starting with Phil Davis. But before all that, former Strikeforce champion Luke Rockhold will battle Tim Boetsch in a middleweight featured bout.
Check out our analysis and predictions below and then let us know who you're picking and why in the comments section.
Jon Jones vs. Glover Teixeira
Iole's pick - Jon Jones via 4th round TKO over Glover Teixeira
Teixeira is unquestionably a threat to beat Jones. He has great power, good wrestling, is physically strong and has a Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu black belt. But he faces three issues trying to unseat Jones. First, he has to find a way to get inside of Jones' reach without getting blasted. Second, he has to overcome a speed and quickness advantage. And perhaps most importantly, he's going to have to beat a motivated Jones who wants to make a statement after many felt he lost his last fight to Alex Gustafsson.
Elias' pick - Jon Jones via 3rd round submission over Glover Teixeira
My specific prediction might be a little different than Kevin's but I can't argue with his analysis. Not only will Teixeira have a tough time getting inside on Jones, if he does, he'll likely just be sat down by the champ with take downs. Teixeira has power, cardio and heart for days and is well-rounded, but I don't think he possesses the attributes that Alexander Gustafsson has and used to take Jones to the brink in their fight last fall, namely, length, and comprable hand and foot speed.
In the end, I think a smart Jones will should be able to grind Teixeira down with take downs and ground striking, force an opening and finish with a submission from on top by late in the third round.
Anthony Johnson vs. Phil Davis
Iole's Pick - Anthony Johnson via 2nd round TKO over Phil Davis
Davis has the far better wrestling and figures to use that to put Johnson down and control the fight. But Johnson is greatly motivated and I think he's going to figure Davis out and land a big shot that ends it.
Elias' pick - Phil Davis by 2nd round submission
Kevin's pick is gutsy, and he very well could end up correct. After all, Johnson has the speed and power in his strikes to knockout a mule. Furthermore, the former junior college wrestling national champ might have enough grappling skills to stuff a few take downs or get up quickly if taken down himself, in order to continue to give himself a striker's chance on the feet.
I just wouldn't bet on it. If Davis is smart enough to keep Johnson at bay with his long limbs until he closes the distance on his own terms and looks for the take down, I think he'll be able to get it, secure top position and use his underrated submission game to finish the fight.
Luke Rockhold vs. Tim Boetsch
Iole's pick - Luke Rockhold via decision over Tim Boetsch.
Rockhold has the better overall game and he'll use those tools to stay out of danger and win a comprehensive decision.
Elias' pick - Rockhold by decision over Tim Boetsch.
Yeah, Rockhold is indeed the more well-rounded fighter in this match up and it's always a good idea to bet on that guy or girl, so I'm also picking Rockhold via decision. However, Boetsch has a propensity to use his power punches to rip victory from the jaws of defeat with last-minute KO's so the big man is certainly a live dog here.
How do you see these three UFC 172 fights going down? Are there undercard bouts that you're more excited for than the top ones?
Let us know in the comments section!