Observer Picks & Preview: UFC 172 -- Jon Jones vs. Glover Teixeira



UFC 172

By Josh Nason, Wrestling Observer

The fourth UFC event of April is upon us, the Octagon’s maiden voyage in Maryland -- sans yours truly or proud Mid-Atlantic star Mike Sempervive. Fear not! Washington, DC, stalwart Todd Martin will be seen getting scoops within the friendly confines of the Baltimore Arena.

Oh yeah, Jon Jones is fighting too.

*****

Our panel:

Mike Sawyer (35-9 - .795): ToughTalkMMA, co-host of Tough Talk

- Front Row Brian (34-10 - .772): MMA newsbreaker, Twitter personality

John Pollock (33-11 - .750): Fight Network personality, Live Audio Wrestling host

Dave Meltzer (32-12- .727): Wrestling Observer founder & writer

Todd Martin (32-12 - .727): Weekly FFD guest | LA Times | Sherdog

- Josh Nason (32-12 - .727): Wrestling Observer behind-the-scenes guy, WON on Twitter

Mike Sempervive (30-14 - .681): Wrestling Observer Live co-host | Big Audio Nightmare

- Lance Storm (28-16 - .636): former pro wrestling star, FFD guest, Storm Wrestling Academy founder

- Steve Juon (28-16 - .636): Wrestling Observer MMA reporter, AngryMarks founder

Oliver Copp (27-17 - .613): Combat sports insider, co-host of Tough Talk


*****

205-pound champ Jon Jones (19-1) vs. Glover Teixeira (22-2)

At 26 years old, Jones is on top of the UFC world. Regarded as one of the best, if not the best, fighter in the world, the REIGNING, DEFENDING UFC light heavyweight champion guns for the seventh defense of his title Saturday. This is his first fight since his epic September clash with Alexander Gustafsson and the questions about how that will affect him going forward are swirling.

No one gives the 34-year-old Teixeira a shot tonight, but then again, no one was throwing support behind Gustafsson either. The numbers illustrate otherwise: a 20 fight win streak, five Octagon wins and four finishes, a knockout king, a submission expert. He’s got everything fans should want on paper as a contender, so why is there not a buzz?

Talking Point: Teixeira’s wins haven’t exactly come against the upper tier of the division, while Jones has beaten nearly every name in the division. As expected, reach will be Double J’s best weapon to keep the Mike Tyson-loving Teixeira at bay.

Jones: Juon, Nason, Martin, Storm, FRB, Sempervive, Sawyer, Pollock, Copp, Meltzer

Phil Davis (12-1-0-1) vs. Anthony Johnson (16-4)

The 29-year-old Davis finally finds himself both on the brink of a title shot and in headlines after pre-emptively firing some missiles toward Jones on a media conference call. As Jones said, he’s got to win Saturday in order to back it up. He’s won three in a row and is coming off an August 2013 split decision victory over Lyoto Machida. If he expects to challenge Jones, he’s got to dispatch Johnson.

After being exiled from the UFC in January 2012 due to repeated weight issues, Johnson won six straight on the indy scene (Titan, WSOF). He’s found success at 205 pounds and last knocked out Mike Kyle cold in two minutes. The competition level is definitely up now, but he did what he had to do to get back in.

Talking Point: In 10 UFC bouts, Davis has never finished an opponent by T/KO, but has three submissions. In contrast, Johnson has six knockouts in 11 UFC fights, and has been submitted by rear naked choke three times.

Davis: Juon, Nason, Martin, Storm, FRB, Sempervive, Sawyer, Pollock, Copp, Meltzer

Luke Rockhold (11-2) vs. Tim Boetsch (17-6)

Rockhold returns for his third UFC bout, fresh off a January first round TKO win over Costa Philippou. The final Strikeforce middleweight champion has lost just twice in an injury-riddled career and with a win Saturday, expect him to get another top talent in his next fight. Perhaps a rematch with Jacare Souza, someone he beat several years ago?

Boetsch rebounded from back-to-back losses with a split decision victory over C.B. Dolloway in October. Always a tough fight, the 33-year-old has Octagon wins over Hector Lombard and Yushin Okami to his credit.

Talking Point: In 13 fights, Rockhold has only gone the distance twice, while Boetsch has gone to a decision in five of his seven middleweight fights.

Rockhold: Juon, Nason, Martin, Storm, FRB, Sawyer, Pollock, Copp, Meltzer
Boetsch: Sempervive

Jim Miller (23-4-0-1) vs. Yancy Medeiros (9-1-0-1)

The 30-year-old Miller continues to float around the middle tier in the lightweight division and is unbeaten in his last three, even though one of those was a no contest to Pat Healy that he originally lost. He last was seen submitting Fabricio Camoes via 1st round submission in December. Medeiros is the third injury replacement to fight Miller after Bobby Green and Vagner Rocha had to pull out. He is coming off a November first round KO of Yves Edwards that was overturned due to a positive pot test.

Talking Point: Miller only loses against the upper echelon, but you never know with last-minute replacements.

Miller: Juon, Nason, Martin, Storm, FRB, Sempervive, Sawyer, Pollock, Copp, Meltzer

Max Holloway (8-3) vs. Andre Fili (13-1)

This is a battle of young featherweights with the 23-year-old Fili and the 22-year-old Holloway. Fili has won nine straight and made his UFC debut in October with a 2nd round TKO of Jeremy Larsen. Despite being so young, Holloway is an Octagon veteran as Saturday will mark his eighth time in the Octagon. He’s 4-3 in his career and is coming off a January 2nd round TKO win over Will Chope.

Talking Point: Fili has finished opponents in 10 of his 13 wins, while Holloway has been finished just once (Dustin Poirier in 2012 UFC debut).

Holloway: Nason, Copp
Fili: Juon, Martin, Storm, FRB, Sempervive, Sawyer, Pollock, Meltzer

Coverage here all afternoon/night with good ol’ D.M.