UFC 172 takes place Saturday night with the UFC running Baltimore for the first time. The event is headlined by a UFC light heavyweight title contest between champion Jon Jones and challenger Glover Teixeira. Jones, a dominant champion and a fighter considered by many to be the pound for pound best in the world, is coming off the most competitive fight of his career against Alexander Gustafsson. The question is how Jones will respond in his next fight against a competitor who has won 20 straight fights dating back to 2006, when his training partner Chuck Liddell was still UFC light heavyweight kingpin. In the co-main event, Anthony Johnson makes his return to the UFC looking to make waves in the light heavyweight division. Johnson was cut by the UFC ostensibly for failing to make weight repeatedly at 170 and 185 pounds but has won all his fights since his release. He draws a tough opponent back, Phil Davis. Davis is one of the best pure wrestlers in the sport and has used his submission wrestling game to earn a status as one of the division's top contenders.
UFC Light Heavyweight Title: Jon Jones vs. Glover Teixeira
Jones, at only 26, can already make the claim to be the greatest light heavyweight fighter in the history of MMA. He is 19-1, and his only loss was a questionable disqualification in a fight he dominated from start to finish. He has used his reach, unique striking and high level wrestling to defeat the likes of Rashad Evans, Quinton Jackson, Vitor Belfort, Lyoto Machida and Mauricio Rua. Teixeira is 22-2 himself with 20 straight wins. His striking is probably his greatest strength but he is dangerous on the ground as well. He fought outside the US for years due to Visa issues but finally got in 2012 and won five straight to earn this shot.
Jon Jones does the Ray Lewis dance before coming out to cheers from the crowd. Lewis is in the house along with most of the Ravens' biggest stars.
Round 1. Jones throws a few kicks early. Teixeira moves in with power punches and Jones looks for a takedown. Teixeira defends it and lands a knee to the body. Teixeira lands a few hard punches and grabs a single leg that goes nowhere. Teixeira keeps throwing looping power punches near the top of Jones' head or the back. Jones catches a kick and gets a takedown but Teixeira quickly stands up. Teixeira grabs a plum and lands a knee and then follows with a couple punches. Jones throws a nice spinning back kick to the body. Teixeira wades in with power punches but doesn't come close on any of them. Jones throws an ax kick at the close of the round. Close round. 10-9 Teixeira.
Round 2. Jones shoots for the takedown at the very start and gets a takedown that places Teixeira on the mat. However, just as quickly Teixeira returns to the feet. Jones lands a nice jab that draws a smile from Teixeira. Jones throws another ax kick that misses. Teixeira gets an accidental eye poke and has to weather a storm of punches before the referee gives him a break for the poke. Jones lands a few more jabs but then Teixeira moves in with some of his power punches and backs Jones against the cage. Jones is forced to cover up and become defensive momentarily. Jones lands a pair of standing elbows and then a hook. Jones hits Teixeira with a spinning back kick to the body and then a few punches by the cage. 10-9 Jones, 19-19.
Round 3. Jones comes out with a series of jabs and a front kick mixed in. Teixeira is able to defend most, but it deters Teixeira from moving in with punches himself. As Teixeira comes in, Jones grabs in and hammers him with a stiff knee to the midsection. Jones lands a nice uppercut that momentarily dislodges Teixeira's mouthpiece. Jones then looks for a takedown. Teixeira makes him pay with an uppercut and Jones backs off. Jones moves in by the cage and throws some knees. From the inside, Jones follows with knees while Teixeira counters with uppercuts. Jones lands a hard hook on separation and Teixeira is bleeding above his right eye. Jones connects with a head kick and a body punch. That was a borderline dominant round for Jones. 10-9 Jones, 29-28 Jones.
Round 4. Jones clinches with Teixeira by the cage. He looks for a spinning back elbow but whiffs on it. He does land some more elbows, a technique he utilized a lot against Rashad Evans. They separate and Teixeira presses forward. He lands a nice hook and seems undeterred in a fight that isn't going his way. Jones continues to mix in elbows with his punches and kicks. Teixeira's face is in bad shape at this point. Jones connects with the spinning back elbow he looked for before. They exchange from the inside, with Jones continuing to use those elbows as Teixeira goes for looping punches. Jones gets a takedown at the end and opens up with a flurry of punches before the bell sounds the end of the round. 10-9 Jones, 39-37 Jones.
Round 5. Jones lands a few jabs and gets a takedown. Teixeira immediately gets up. Jones continues to clinch and ties up Teixeira rather than opening up with much offense himself. Teixeira lands a solid uppercut, which has probably been his best weapon this fight. Jones moves in and trades hard shots with Teixeira. They each land well but Jones gets the best of it. Upon separation, Teixeira hits a nice hook and keeps throwing big power shots. Jones throws some big elbows and shows off a little before eating a nasty uppercut that forces him to clinch. Jones backs off and goes back to work with elbows. Teiexeira lands another uppercut. Jones defends by putting both his arms below his chin. Jones throws a leaping, spinning kick late and raises his hands in victory before the final bell sounds. 10-9 Jones, 49-46 Jones. Another masterful performance by a versatile, creative and very smart fighter.
Winner: Jon Jones, unanimous decision (50-45, 50-45, 50-45).
Anthony Johnson vs. Phil Davis
Johnson is an explosive knockout striker with an excellent wrestling background to boot. He has a scary highlight reel. He returns to the UFC after previously being cut for difficulties making weight. He was cutting to 170 pounds for a long while. He fought recently at heavyweight. Davis was a NCAA division I national wrestling champion and has employed his wrestling throughout his MMA career while adding submissions. He sports a 12-1 record with 1 no contest, although many view his most recent decision win over Lyoto Machida to have been a bad decision. Machida's unique deliberate style makes his fights hard to score.
Round 1. Davis looks for a takedown early but Johnson blocks it with no difficulty and lands a couple big punches. Johnson blocks another takedown but Davis connects with a hard punch of his own up the middle. Johnson damages Davis with a big punch and Davis moves in for a desperation takedown. He can't get it and eats some big punches. Davis moves in again and gets caught with a big knee. Davis recovers and circles around, throwing from the outside. Johnson hits Davis with a hard 1-2 punch combination. He has also been able to keep an ideal pace for himself. 10-8 Johnson.
Round 2. Davis is more active in the second, throwing jabs and leg kicks while Johnson looks to load up for a power shot. He hits a leg kick but it is partially blocked. Johnson then stuffs a takedown with ease. Davis continues to be more active but Johnson comes with so much more power. Davis dives in for a takedown but again Johnson moves out of danger without much trouble. That was a lot closer round as Johnson didn't land all that much. Still, 10-9 Johnson. He landed the best shots of the round.
Round 3. Johnson lands a couple jabs early and follows with a power right. As he moves in, Davis switches levels and goes for a takedown but again he seemingly bounces off Johnson's powerful frame. Davis throws a head kick that doesn't land with much power. Johnson comes in with punches and Davis is forced to run out of trouble. Johnson goes for a takedown but Davis quickly reverses and looks for the takedown of his own from the clinch. He can't get it but does land a shot on separation. Johnson goes for a takedown late but eats some elbows as the round ends. Another close round. 10-9 Davis, 29-27 Johnson.
Winner: Anthony Johnson, unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27).
Chris Beal vs. Patrick Williams
Beal and Williams are both making their UFC debuts. Beal is an undefeated prospect who has fought mostly subpar competition. Williams has a wrestling background and a 7-3 MMA record.
Round 1. Williams accidentally low blows Beal and as Beal covers up, Williams looks to finish with a rear naked choke. Referee Herb Dean calls a stop to the action in the unique situation. After the break, Williams lands a nice uppercut and takes Beal down. Beal gets up quickly but eats a knee on the way up. Williams catches a kick by Beal and scores another takedown. Beal gets back up quickly and this time lands a knee of his own on the way up. Beal connects with a good hook towards the end and Williams runs away from trouble. Beal drops him with another punch but Williams is recovering as the round comes to an end. 10-9 Williams.
Round 2. Beal lands some hard punches in the clinch. Williams responds with a knee and separates. Beal catches Williams with some punches and follows in with wild power punches. Williams survives. A few moments later, Beal connects with a spectacular flying knee that knocks Williams cold out.
Winner: Chris Beal, KO, round 2.
Luke Rockhold vs. Tim Boetsch
Rockhold is the former Strikeforce middleweight champion with key wins over Costas Philippou, Ronaldo "Jacare" Souza and Tim Kennedy. He trains out of the elite American Kickboxing Academy camp. His only loss since the second of his career was to Vitor Belfort, whose recent performances are widely viewed with great suspicion. Boetsch is a gritty overachiever who has built a nice career with wrestling and toughness but lacks the natural athletic tools of a Rockhold.
Round 1. Boetsch goes for a takedown but Rockhold deftly rolls through and then looks to lock up a reverse triangle choke. He can't choke Boetsch but keeps him in place and grabs a kimura on the other arm and extends it out until he gets the submission.
Winner: Luke Rockhold, submission, round 1.
Jim Miller vs. Yancy Medeiros
Miller is a grizzled veteran of the lightweight division, having fought a who's who of the division and coming out with a sparkling 23-4 record (a fifth loss to Pat Healy was overturned due to a marijuana test failure). His greatest strengths are his submissions and toughness. Medeiros takes this fight on short notice. He is 9-1 in MMA with his most recent knockout win overturned because of a marijuana test failure.
Round 1. Miller appears content to stand with Medeiros early. He lands a few of the better early blows but neither man is able to connect with much of note in the first half of the round. Miller hits Medeiros with a big punch to the body, leading Medeiros to gesture for Miller to come in with more. They tumble to the ground and Miller grabs a guillotine choke. Medeiros fights hard to get out before finally falling unconscious. Miller has to wait a moment to get out from under Medeiros' weight.
Winner: Jim Miller, submission, round 1.
Andre Fili vs. Max Holloway
Fili is a 13-1 23-year-old prospect who won his first UFC bout via TKO over Jeremy Larsen. Holloway is 22 himself and 8-3 in MMA with losses in two of his last three. The hook for the fight appears to be that they're both young because neither man has the fighting stature of Joseph Benavidez or Takanori Gomi.
Round 1. The fighters start at a very active pace, concentrating early on jabs and leg kicks. Fili appears to stagger Holloway a little with a punch but Holloway recovers quickly. A couple minutes later, Fili lands a nice cross to the jaw that Holloway is able to withstand. Holloway answers with a solid punch of his own moments later. Fili gets a takedown with 90 seconds left in the round but Holloway quickly stands back up. Holloway connects with a nice kick that lands with the knee right to the face. They grapple against the cage as the round comes to a close. Very even round. 10-9 Fili narrowly.
Round 2. Fili gets caught with a hard counter punch early and then a spinning back kick to the body that has Fili in a little bit of trouble. Fili clinches and eats some knees to the head. Holloway lands a knee to the body but in the process is taken down with a little less than two minutes left in the round. The fight is stood up quickly drawing boos from the crowd. Back on the feet, Fili catches a spinning back kick and looks for another takedown. Holloway prevents that. Another very close round. 10-9 Holloway based on the strength of the flurry at the beginning.
Round 3. They return to very evenly matched standup. Fili goes for a takedown a minute in but doesn't get it. He does 30 seconds later, however. Holloway gets up and pushes forward looking to land some shots. Fili clinches and looks for another takedown. Upon separation, Holloway lands some big elbows and punches on a tired Fili. He then grabs a guillotine choke and scores the tapout.
Winner: Max Holloway, submission, round 3.
Joseph Benavidez vs. Tim Elliott
Benavidez is widely regarded as the second best flyweight fighter in the world but is now out of the title picture after losing to champion Demetrious Johnson twice. He has excellent speed and technique and has added some power to his game in recent fights. Elliott is 2-2 in the UFC but his losses have come to top contenders Ali Bagautinov and John Dodson.
Round 1. Elliott immediately charges forward and gets a takedown. Benavidez quickly stands up and lands a couple punches on the feet. Elliott uses a trip takedown and catches Benavidez in a crucifix. Benavidez keeps working, rolling all over the place, to try to get out and finally does. That was a unique sequence. Benavidez gets up and eats a knee upon his return. Benavidez throws a pair of body kicks but gets taken down again. He then works his way up again, and takes top position on Elliott. Benavidez grabs Elliott's head and looks to secure a guillotine choke submission by working into full mount. He finally gets into that position. Elliott fights and fights but has to submit.
Winner: Joseph Benavidez, submission, round 1.
Takanori Gomi vs. Isaac Vallie-Flagg
Gomi, billed as the Fireball Kid, was at one point widely considered the best lightweight in the world. A dominant champion for the Pride Fighting Championships, Gomi in his prime scored wins over the likes of Tatsuya Kawajiri, Hayato Sakurai, Jens Pulver and Duane Ludwig. He has had mixed success in the UFC, but should currently be riding a three fight winning streak were it not for a bad judges' decision against Diego Sanchez. Vallie-Flagg was a Strikeforce fighter at the end of that organization and then came over to the UFC. He was 11-0-1 in his 12 fights prior to a loss in his last fight against Elias Silverio.
Round 1. Vallie-Flagg immediately moves to close the distance as Gomi fires some jabs at him. Gomi avoids any takedown attempt and backs away. Gomi knocks down an off balance Vallie-Flagg with a straight punch but Vallie-Flagg is fine. Gomi lands some nice solid punches on the inside as Vallie-Flagg comes in. He eats a jab moving in and then another jab moving right back in. Vallie-Flagg does leap in with a solid punch but can't get the takedown. Vallie-Flagg uses a push kick and misses a looping punch. Gomi blocks a head kick attempt and takes top position on Vallie-Flagg. As Vallie-Flagg tries to stand up, Gomi neatly takes his back. However, Gomi can't sink in a rear naked choke submission. He grabs the head again but doesn't have Vallie-Flagg's body controlled with his legs and thus isn't in an optimal position to finish. Vallie-Flagg gets back up. Gomi lands a nice jab to conclude the round. 10-9 Gomi.
Round 2. Vallie-Flagg has success early with a power punch up the middle and presses the action. The crowd begins a chant for Gomi. Gomi catches a leg kick and lands a couple of punches. Gomi catches another kick and again answers with a punch moments later. Vallie-Flagg moves in and eats a leg kick and punch. They clinch. Gomi lands a couple jabs. Gomi is opening up more with his striking as Vallie-Flagg has slowed down from the first. Gomi pushes forward for the first time and connects with some punches against the cage on Vallie-Flagg. Vallie-Flagg circles out and resumes his pressure. Vallie-Flagg lands a nice punch moving in but Gomi quickly answers back with a combination that hits Vallie-Flagg harder. 10-9 Gomi. That was a very strong round for Gomi.
Round 3. Vallie-Flagg walks into some more jabs from Gomi. The right side of Vallie-Flagg's face is a puffed up, bloody mess at this point. Vallie-Flagg gets a takedown and quickly goes to work with punches. He lands a whole bunch before Gomi is able to return to his feet. The crowd loudly chants for Gomi. After they break from a clinch, they exchange punches from close distance. Gomi stuns Vallie-Flagg with a couple punches and Vallie-Flagg's messed up face just got even worse. Gomi is now landing at will. They clinch against the cage late in the round and Vallie-Flagg secures a takedown. He lands some punches but loses top position and ends the round with Gomi on top. 10-9 Gomi, 30-27 Gomi. Fun fight.
Winner: Takanori Gomi, unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28).
Jessamyn Duke vs. Bethe Correia
Duke is a uniquely tall female fighter who trains with UFC women's bantamweight champion Ronda Rousey. Correia is an undefeated Brazilian fighter who won her first UFC bout via split decision against Julie Kedzie.
Round 1. Duke looks to establish her jab early and utilize her reach. But Correia lands the best early shots with a couple of hard leg kicks. They clinch and Duke lands a series of hard knees to the body. Correia throws a spinning backfist that lands, but not solidly. She lands a follow-up punch moments later that lands much better. She clinches and looks for a takedown but Duke blocks that. Correia connects with a punch and a couple kicks to close the round. 10-9 Correia.
Round 2. Correia lands the best early punch. She clinches and looks for a takedown. Duke blocks it at first with a whizzer like she did in the first, but Correia follows through and gets side control on the ground. Correia looks to advance into full mount but in so doing, she loses control altogether and Duke stands up. Duke then uses a judo throw to drop Correia. She grabs a guillotine on the way up but can't get it so she knees Correia and walks away. Correia lands a few punches as they return to the feet. 10-9 Correia. Duke has a big length and reach advantage but she just can't keep Correia at bay. Correia is consistently landing the best strikes throughout the fight.
Round 3. Correia lands a three punch combination early. All three connect pretty well. She uses another spinning backfist. Duke clinches briefly and uses a knee. Correia responds with a punch to the body and leg kick. Correia lands a few more punches but Duke gets a takedown and goes for an armbar. Unfortunately, she loses it and ends up on the bottom. She quickly moves to use the rubber guard. She gives that up to go to full guard before a standup. Correia lands a few shots on the feet and finally walks into a jab. Correia lands one more overhand right to end the fight. 10-9 Correia, 30-27 Correia.
Winner: Bethe Correia, unanimous decision (30-27, 29-28, 30-27).
Danny Castillo vs. Charlie Brenneman
Castillo is an excellent fighter with a wrestling background but a well evolved overall game who trains out of the respected Alpha Male camp. He has won five of his last seven with the only losses coming to the dangerous Edson Barboza and Michael Johnson. Brenneman at one point seemed on the version of becoming a factor at welterweight but three losses in four fights sent him out of the UFC. His return to the UFC in his last fight was a disappointment, as he lost again, this time to lightly regarded Beneil Dariush in less than two minutes.
Round 1. Brenneman shoots for a takedown and gets it a minute in. He quickly moves into advantageous side control position. Brenneman lands some knees to the body but loses the position going for an unusual submission. After some tentative standup, Brenneman goes for and gets another takedown. As Castillo stands up, Brenneman takes his back from the standing position. Brenneman can't hang on and has to release. Castillo then looks to take his back and goes for a rear naked choke. He loses it as the round comes to a conclusion. Close round, with Brenneman winning it on the basis of the early ground control. 10-9 Brenneman.
Round 2. We get our second consecutive explosive knockout of the night, as Castillo knocks Brenneman out cold with an overhand right at the start of the round. It's really hard to impress how impressive these first two finishes were. Total highlight reel shots by both Beal and Castillo, landing perfectly.
Winner: Danny Castillo, KO, round 2.
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