Hello again fight freaks! Cowboy here with a look at tomorrow night’s stacked UFC 172 card headlined by Jon Jones defending his Light Heavyweight Championship against the very dangerous Brazilian, Glover Teixeira. Jonny Bones is always must see TV and I can’t wait to tune in. Also on the card, Phil Davis and Anthony “Rumble” Johnson square off in a light heavyweight tilt and former Strikeforce champion Luke Rockhold takes on Tim Boetsch at middleweight. Last month’s UFC 171 card saw the Cowboy’s Call perfect streak end as Hector Lombard bested Jake Shields. I did, however, call Tyron Woodley upsetting Carlos Condit and sit at a very respectable 8-1 for the year. Without further ado, here is the breakdown of UFC 172.
Jon Jones vs. Glover Teixeira – 5 Rounds for Jones’s UFC Light Heavyweight Title
The last time we saw Jones in the Octagon he was eeking out a decision win against Alexander Gustafsson in an instant classic. The taller Gustafsson was able to give Jones far and away his most difficult contest to date. Jones took the decision but also took a massive beating at the hands of the Swede. One of the things that makes a champion great is how they respond to adversity and Jones passed that test with flying colors. There were multiple times in the bout that it looked as though he may be stopped and each time he weathered the storm and came back with a vengeance. Given the extent of the injuries he suffered in the fight, the argument can be made that the champion’s heart and determination alone allowed him to retain his title.
As impressive as that aspect of his performance was, Jones also showed his first signs of vulnerability in the bout. Gustafsson was able to land almost at will and was able to stuff most of the Jones’s takedown attempts. Prior to the fight with Gustafsson, Jones had hardly been challenged in the Octagon (save for an unexpected armbar attempt from Vitor Belfort). The million dollar question is can Teixeira build on what Gustafsson was able to accomplish and walk away with the strap?
Teixeira is a beast. He is on a ridiculous 20 fight winning streak and is clearly the #1 contender at light heavyweight. He has vicious knockout power in both hands and possesses some of the best ground and pound in the division. He also is a solid submission artist finishing two of his UFC opponents with chokes. With all that said, there is one area that Teixeira literally does not measure up to Jones and it is the most difficult one for him to overcome. Glover stands at 6′ 2″ to the champ’s 6′ 4″. Jones has absolutely dominated fighters who he enjoyed the height and reach advantage over (which is everyone he has fought except for Gustafsson), and it will take a perfectly executed game plan from Teixeira to not suffer the same fate.
To use a boxing reference, this is the classic case of the tall stylist versus the shorter bull. Teixeira has to get inside Jones’s obscenely long reach to land his shots. If he can do it consistently without getting knocked cold on the way in, he can win the fight. Jones showed an excellent chin in the Gustafsson fight, but Teixeira possesses the type of game changing power that would allow him to end the fight if he is able to get into range and connect. For Jones, the game plan is one that he has followed many times before. He will look to keep Teixeira in “no man’s land” where Jones can land his strikes but Glover can’t reach him. After softening up the dangerous Brazilian for a couple of rounds, Jones will look to turn on the gas and take him out. On top of his physical advantages, Jones is also faster and the better wrestler of the two men. If things get hairy on the feet for him early, don’t be surprised to see the champ put Teixeira on his back and wear him down. Jones has a lot more ways he can win this fight than the challenger who will basically be looking to land the home run punch from the opening bell.
Cowboy’s Call: Jones wins by 3rd round TKO
Phil Davis vs. Anthony Johnson – 3 Rounds at Light Heavyweight
Davis and Anthony “Rumble” Johnson. The last time we saw Davis he was taking a highly contentious unanimous decision from Lyoto Machida. Davis did not look great in the fight, but few do against the defensive minded Machida. The only blemish on Davis’s record is a decision loss to Rashad Evans which was simply a case of “too much too soon” for the Penn State product. Davis combines some of the best wrestling in the promotion with an ever improving and diversified striking game. Davis is a superb athlete who gets better every time he steps in the cage.
“Rumble” hasn’t been in the Octagon since dropping a contest versus Vitor Belfort by first round rear naked choke in January of 2012. It has never been a question of talent with Johnson. He made the curious decision early in his career to cut all the way down to welterweight. This led to him missing weight multiple times and, eventually, led to his dismissal from the promotion. Johnson has gone undefeated in his time outside the UFC with his most notable win coming at heavyweight against former UFC champion Andrei Arlovski. Johnson is a killer on the feet and possesses the speed and power to take anyone out if given the opportunity. He has shown a weakness on the ground in his career and will want to keep this fight standing.
The smart money says that Davis will use his wrestling to take Johnson down early and often and propel himself to a decision win. Johnson has good takedown defense but it will be very tough for him to keep Davis off of him should “Mr. Wonderful” choose to go this route. In past fights, Davis has shown considerable confidence in his improved striking game and I think he will try to test himself in this area versus the very dangerous Johnson. The longer this fight is on the feet, the more it favors Johnson. He is a fantastic finisher so if he can hurt Davis he can take him out. I think “Rumble” pulls the upset as Davis decides to stand up with him for a little too long.
Cowboy’s Call: Johnson by 1st round KO
Luke Rockhold vs. Tim Boetsch – 3 Rounds at Middleweight
We’ll keep this one short and sweet. Rockhold is coming off a rousing first round KO of Costas Philippou (the same Pilippou who knocked Boetsch out). The former Strikeforce champion had a rough beginning to his UFC career as he was thrown to Vitor Belfort and lost by spectacular head kick KO. The win agains Philippou appears to have righted the ship for the well-rounded Rockhold and he will be looking to build more momentum as he positions himself for a shot at the middleweight belt. Rockhold holds distinct advantages over Boetsch in speed, athleticism, and striking ability. Boetsch has shown an ability to pull off upsets in the past and he will need to pull a rabbit out of his hat to win this one. His best chance is to try to grind Rockhold down in the clinch and take him out in the third round once he has slowed down. I don’t see it. Rockhold wins this one easily.
Cowboy’s Call: Rockhold by UD