For the first time in promotional history, the Ultimate Fighting Championship heads to Baltimore, Maryland, on Saturday, April 26 (10 P.M. EST, Pay Per View), for UFC 172, as light heavyweight champion Jon Jones (19-1, 13-1 UFC) puts his title on the line against Glover Teixeira (22-2, 5-0 UFC).
Currently riding a 10-fight win streak, Jones returns to the octagon for the first time since his Fight of the Year performance at UFC 165, and will attempt to defend his 205-pound strap for the seventh time at the Baltimore Arena. But Teixeira, a Brazilian Jiu Jitsu black belt who is in the midst of his own 20-fight win streak, presents a unique set of challenges for the champion.
The archetype for success in contemporary mixed martial arts, Jones is a versatile fighter with otherworldly athleticism and quickness, as well as an eight-inch reach advantage over Teixeira. Known for throwing a wide array of strikes, combining a vicious kicking assault with well-timed punches and brutal elbows, Jones is also solid on the ground, able to smother opponents and control the pace of the contest.
Teixeira brings brutish force and punching power into the UFC 172 main event, not to mention a high intelligence quotient and cage savvy. Coming off a first-round TKO finish of Ryan Bader in September 2013, Teixeira is known for his violent and heavy punches, as well as his slick submission skills that have netted him post-fight bonuses in his last two outings.
A viable contender to Jones' throne, Teixeira will come out fast to look for an early knockout, and possibly even take the first two rounds. But having tested his merits in the deep waters of the championship rounds, Jones will find his resolve late in the fight, systematically breaking Teixeira down to sink in a submission in the fourth or fifth frame.
Co-main Event: Phil Davis vs. Anthony Johnson
It has been more than eight months since Phil Davis (12-1 1 NC, 8-1 1 NC UFC) was last seen in action, scoring a contentious decision over now-middleweight contender Lyoto Machida. An elite wrestler, Davis has all the tools to control fights, but come Saturday, he will face a rejuvenated Anthony Johnson (16-4, 7-4 UFC), who returns to the octagon for the first time since January 2012, after stringing together a six-fight win streak outside of the UFC.
A former competitor at welterweight and middleweight, Johnson has found a home at 205-pounds, where his athleticism is unaffected by devastating weight cuts and his punching power still an effective weapon.
Johnson's resurgence has been a great story for MMA, his comeback and return to the UFC sets an amazing precedent for other fighters cut by the organization. But Davis will prove to be too quick and elusive, using his footwork to land punches and set up the takedown.
Davis earns the win by decision.
Luke Rockhold vs. Tim Boetsch
An intriguing middleweight matchup, this battle between Rockhold (11-2, 1-1 UFC) and Boetsch (17-6, 8-5 UFC) features two of the division's best, and should end in stunning fashion.
A black belt in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, Rockhold, a former Strikeforce middleweight champion, is seeking his second win inside the octagon after easily disposing of Costas Philippou in January, while Boetsch enters the cage for the first time since earning a split decision win over C.B. Dollaway at UFC 166 last October.
On paper, Rockhold, who owns a three-inch height and reach advantage over Boetsch, appears to have the edge, able to out strike and grapple his opponent. But Boetsch brings bullish strength into the cage and always threatens to ground and pound his adversaries into oblivion.
Boetsch will attempt to close the distance and land the takedown early, but Rockhold will thwart all advances and earn the victory by TKO.
Jim Miller vs. Yancy Medeiros
A black belt in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, Jim Miller (23-4 1 NC, 12-3 1 NC UFC) is one of the UFC's most entertaining submission artists. Known to throw punches and kicks with reckless abandon, Miller is seemingly able to force the tapout anywhere the fight goes, which should bode well in his matchup with Yancy Medeiros (9-1 1 NC, 0-1 1 NC UFC), a Strikeforce import who is still seeking his first win inside the octagon.
Stepping in for an injured Bobby Green, who withdrew from UFC 172 last week due to injury, Medeiros is a quick and athletic grappler who has had a string of bad luck inside the octagon, first gruesomely injuring his thumb during competition at UFC 159, then testing positive for marijuana after what would have been his first UFC victory.
While Medeiros possesses the speed and power to brutalize Miller from the top position, Miller's Jiu Jitsu and experience will ultimately decide this contest.
Jim Miller win by third round submission, likely a rear-naked choke.
Andre Fili vs. Max Holloway
A potential Fight of the Night, this contest between featherweights Fili (13-1, 1-0 UFC) and Holloway (8-3, 4-3 UFC) has all the makings of a lightning-paced slugfest.
Fili, a member of Sacramento's Team Alpha Male, enters the octagon for the second time, after looking impressive in his UFC debut, a TKO win over Jeremy Larsen at UFC 166. A heavy hitter with excellent clinch work and knees, Fili looks to damage his opponents and batter his way to victory.
Standing across the cage will be Holloway, a dynamic striker with excellent head movement and footwork. Still only 22 years old, Holloway will make his eighth appearance inside the octagon, and enters UFC 172 on the heels of a Knockout of the Night performance in his last outing.
Fili and Holloway will look to land the knockout early, exchanging punches, kicks, and knees in the opening frame. But, ultimately, neither fighter will connect with a decisive blow as both feel the effects of fatigue by the third round.
Andre Fili wins via decision.