Jon Jones vs. Glover Teixeira – UFC Light Heavyweight Championship:
Mike Drahota: Not surprisingly, Jones has said he is in the best shape of his life after going through the motions of training for Alexander Gustafsson. While I’m not willing to believe this is the best version of “Bones” quite yet, he could prove that is true come Saturday night. Obviously his reach, striking, and wrestling ability are the best in the game; there’s no doubt Jones is one of the best champions the sport has ever seen. However, I think we saw some small chinks in his armor last fight. And I don’t usually go off of something Chael Sonnen said, but I do think him getting rid of longtime wrestling coach Izzy Martinez is going to play a big factor here. There’s a new breed of light heavyweight contenders coming up in UFC, and Teixeira is at the forefront with his knockout power, defensive wrestling, and jiu-jitsu skills. “Bones” could just as easily pick up a decision win, but I’m picking Teixeira to shock the world with a second round TKO.
Rory Kernaghan: Glover Teixeira enters the UFC 172 main event as a 4-1 underdog, so I feel that the bookies may be upset by the heavy-handed Brazilian. There is always the chance that light-heavyweight champion Jones’ athleticism and clinical finishing will win the day, and I wouldn’t be at all surprised if he does, but I have a feeling that a new champion will be crowned. Teixeira’s grappling will make it hard for Jones to fight on the mat, and I think he will get clipped on the feet. It only takes one punch from a guy like GT, and I predict a third round knockout for Glover Teixeira.
Brian Cox: For me, this fight is all about Jon Jones’s reach and whether or not Teixeira can get inside of it. Teixeira cannot afford to be on the outside looking in on “Bones’s” (nearly) ten inches of additional avail. And he cannot afford to allow Jones free reign over the Octagon. Teixeira is going to have to find Jones and turn the match into a brawl. If he can push the fight up against the fence and make it ugly, then the Brazilian may well prevail. However, the only man that’s been able to drag Jones into a war was Alexander Gustafsson, and he did it at range, not from clinch brawling against the fence. I think Jones has more ways to win this fight – standing or on the ground – where Teixeira will probably need a TKO to carry the day, and I just don’t think he’ll be able to get it. For reasons of superior skills, I’m picking Jon Jones by way of second round TKO.
Buster Evans: Alexander Gustafsson showed the world Jon Jones is only human at UFC 165 but he still came up short in taking the belt. Against Glover Teixeira, “Bones” faces another stiff challenge, as the Brazilian has all the tools to take the title. If Teixeira is able to get inside the champ’s reach, he has the power to put his lights out. He also has the ability to submit Jones but as we’ve seen with Vitor Belfort, that’s not an easy thing to do. Expect Jones to be fighting “GSP-like” on Saturday night, playing it safe throughout a unanimous decision win.
Phil Davis vs. Anthony Johnson:
Mike Drahota: This awaited bout could end in a few ways. I could easily see Davis grinding Johnson against the fence and eventually taking him down to earn a yawn-inducing unanimous decision. I could also see Davis getting an early takedown and using his very sharp jiu-jitsu game to submit “Rumble,” who’s tapped in three out of his four losses. Obviously the third, and most exciting, avenue is that Johnson sprawls out Davis’ takedowns to keep the fight standing, unleashing his patented haymakers and headkicks to earn an impressive finish. While the latter would be much more exhilarating for the fans, “Mr. Wonderful” has never been finished, and I don’t think that trend will start tomorrow night. Davis wins a unanimous decision.
Rory Kernaghan: Phil Davis vs. Anthony Johnson is quite an even match in my eyes; Johnson is a scary dude with some very heavy striking, and Davis has much-improved striking with a solid wrestling base. I’d say that the difference here will be the ability to finish, and that ball bounces in ‘Rumble’s’ side of the court. Look for Davis to implement his wrestling game early on, but to get tagged by a big Johnson kick late in the fight. I’m predicting a last minute TKO for Johnson.
Brian Cox: Anthony Johnson has turned around his career over the last few years and now, riding a six-fight winning streak and competing in a division that makes sense for the massive “Rumble,” he appears to be ready to bring forth the promise of his career. However, this is his first fight back in the promotion in two years and his stand-up heavy game has drawn a formidable opponent in Phil Davis. “Mr. Wonderful” is a powerful and confident wrestler, and one with an ever-improving stand-up and grappling game. Moreover, Davis has demonstrated – as he did against Lyoto Machida – that he can shut down a great striker. In order for Johnson to win, I think he’ll have to keep Davis off of him and at range. If he doesn’t, then Davis is likely to take Johnson off of his feet and submit him or control him for three rounds. However, I don’t think “Rumble” will be able to do it. As such, and for reasons of superior grappling, I’m picking Phil Davis by way of a second round submission.
Buster Evans: This is a great match-up and I can’t wait to see how Anthony Johnson performs in his UFC return. “Rumble” has looked ruthless in his spell away from the Octagon and seems to have come into his own in the light heavyweight division. However, he may have his hands full with Phil Davis, who has the skills to test anyone in the division. If Johnson is able to get some good shots early, I can see him winning the fight. But, I don’t think it’s going to happen, so I’m going with Davis via decision.
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