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Glover looks for huge upset

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Event: UFC 172
Date: Apr. 26, 2014
Venue: Baltimore Arena
City: Baltimore, Maryland

Light Heavyweight Championship - Jon Jones (19-1) vs. Glover Teixeira (22-2)
Sportsbook.ag Line: Jones -550, Teixeira +400

Light heavyweight champion Jon Jones will have another very difficult test on Saturday night as he defends his belt against Glover Teixeira at UFC 172 in Baltimore.

Jones has been dominant during his time as the champion, but was challenged in his most recent fight on Sept. 21 against Alexander Gustafsson more than he has ever been in his career. The 6-foot-4 Jones is usually taller than his opponent, but the 6-foot-5 Gustafsson kept the match close throughout with his length, eventually losing a unanimous decision. That win marked the sixth straight time that Jones defended his championship belt, which is a UFC light heavyweight record. And all of these opponents have been top-notch, a list that includes Chael Sonnen, Vitor Belfort and Rashad Evans.

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While Jones is a big favorite going into this match, his opponent has been on an absolute tear. Glover Teixeira enters this match with 20 consecutive victories, including a dominating first-round knockout against Ryan Bader at UFC Fight Night 28 on Sept. 4. Teixeira has the ability to win a fight with a single punch, as he is as strong of a fighter as there is in the light heavyweight class. But the 6-foot-2 Teixeira could struggle with Jones' length and reach, as he has not faced an opponent that comes close to the talent that Jones possesses.

Jon "Bones" Jones comes into this fight with 19 career victories, and eight have them come by way of knockout. He also has six wins by submission and five by decision. Jones has only one loss in his career, and that was a controversial disqualification against Matt Hamill back in 2009, but he has reeled off 10 straight victories since that disappointment. In his most recent match against Gustafsson, Jones showed that he is able to take a beating and still do what is necessary to get the victory.

While he does not land near as many significant strikes per minute (4.15) as Teixeira (6.91), Jones is a more accurate striker (54%) than Teixeira (48%). With his incredible length (84.5 inches, longest of any UFC fighter), the 26-year-old Jones is able to keep his opponents at bay the entire time. While the New York-born Jones is the big favorite to win Saturday's fight, do not expect Teixeira to come into this match intimidated at all.

Teixeira has 22 victories in his career, with 14 of them coming by way of knockout. He also five wins by submission and three wins by decision. In his past 10 fights, Teixeira has finished nine of them, and it is no secret on how he plans to win on Saturday, as he has stated to the media that he is going to knock Jones out. The 34-year-old has incredible knockout power, but it will be very difficult for him to get close enough to deliver that punch against Jones.

The Brazilian will have a major advantage when it comes down to grappling (4.78 takedown average for Teixeira, compared to only 2.45 for Jones), but both of these fighters do a terrific job of defending against the takedown (100% for Teixeira and 96% for Jones). For Teixeira to win this fight, he must stay close to Jones and not allow the champ to use his superior reach. If he is able to do that, then we could have a new champion in the light heavyweight class.

Phil Davis (12-1) vs. Anthony Johnson (16-4)
Sportsbook.ag Line: Davis -250, Johnson +200

Phil Davis looks to prove he is one of the top fighters in the world as he goes up against Anthony Johnson at UFC 172 on Saturday night.

Davis has not fought since Aug. 3, but he showed then that he has the potential to beat anybody. At that UFC 163 event, he was able to get a unanimous decision victory against Lyoto Machida. Even more impressive was the fact that it was in Machida’s backyard in Rio de Janeiro. Davis is a monster athlete that has the ability to beat his opponent in many different ways. He has the power to knock out his opponent, but also possesses the cardio and speed to wear his opponent out. He was called out by Dana White this past week and has given the indication that he is ready to roll in this fight. He will need to be, going up against a guy like Anthony Johnson, who also has the ability to end a match in electric fashion. Since falling in his last UFC bout on Jan. 14, 2012 to Vitor Belfort, Johnson has won his past six fights, and will be hungry to prove he belongs in the UFC. While he will give a game effort, Davis is too focused and too talented to let this opportunity pass him by.

Davis has 12 wins in his career, with half of them coming by way of decision. He also has four victories by submission and two wins by knockout, with four of those six finishes coming in the first round. When it comes to landing strikes, these two combatants are very close, as Davis delivers 3.07 significant strikes per minute, while Johnson lands 3.00. While these striking numbers are similar, they are doing it for different reasons. "Mr. Wonderful" uses his quickness on his strikes to constantly hit his opponent and wear him out throughout the fight, while Johnson is going for the knockout punch. Davis does a terrific job of avoiding big punches, defending 72 percent of his opponents’ striking attempts (Johnson has 60% defense). If the 29-year-old Davis is able to stay away from the knockout and use his athleticism -- he was a four-time All-American wrestler and national champion at Penn State -- Davis will be in great shape to get the win. However, if this turns into a slugfest, then Johnson will definitely have a chance to pull off the mild upset.

Johnson has 16 wins in his fighting career, with 11 of them coming by way of knockout. He also has five wins by decision, so he has shown the ability to go the distance in a fight as well. Johnson, who was also a national wrestling champion in college (Lassen Community College), will have an advantage when it comes to taking down his opponent, as he averages 3.17 takedowns, while Davis averages 2.67. Johnson is also a lot more accurate with his takedown attempts, completing 60% of his takedowns while Davis is only successful on 42% of his takedown tries. The 30-year-old Johnson, who is from Dublin, GA but now fights out of Boca Raton, FL, is a very powerful fighter that has the strength to match up with Davis. He has been given another chance in the UFC, and he must be ready to go from the very beginning if he is going to get the win.

Luke Rockhold (11-2) vs. Tim Boetsch (17-6)
Sportsbook.ag Line: Rockhold -900, Boetsch +600

Luke Rockhold is a heavy favorite on Saturday night as he goes up against Tim Boetsch at UFC 172 in Baltimore.

Rockhold comes into this match after a dominating victory against Costas Philippou on January 15 at UFC Fight Night. In that match, Rockhold was able to deliver a vicious kick to the body to get the knockout victory at 2:31 of the opening round. That was a big win for Rockhold after a disappointing first-round knockout loss against Vitor Belfort in his previous fight on May 18. Rockhold is a very confident fighter that is just entering his prime at 29 years old. Despite still being early into his career, he has victories against Keith Jardine, Tim Kennedy and Ronaldo Souza. With that experience and talent, Rockhold has a chance to become a force in the middleweight class. He will be going up against a talented fighter in Tim Boetsch, who also has some confidence after a tough split-decision victory against CB Dollaway on Oct. 19.

Rockhold has 11 wins in his career, with five of them coming by way of submission. He also has four victories by knockout and only two wins by decision. All nine of those finishes occurred in the first round, and he's reeled off 10 wins in his past 11 fights. Rockhold will have a big advantage when it comes to landing strikes, as he lands 3.67 per minute compared to only 2.79 for Boetsch. He is not quite as accurate when throwing them (42%, compared to 51% for Boetsch), but Rockhold is a better striking defender at 64% (58% for Boetsch). Rockhold also has a height and reach advantage standing at 6-foot-3, while Boetsch is only 6-feet tall. If the California-born Rockhold is able to use his athleticism and strength, it will be very difficult for his opponent to score the major upset. The best chance for Boetsch to pull off the shocker is to come out swinging and deliver a vicious knockout.

The 33-year-old Boetsch has 17 victories in his fighting career, with nine coming by way of knockout. He also has three submission wins and five victories from the judges. He is 5-2 at the middleweight level and 8-5 in his UFC career. But in his past dozen fights, "The Barbarian" is 9-3 with two knockouts and two submissions. The biggest thing that Boetsch has going for him is this ability to deliver the vicious knockout punch. He cannot allow this match to go the distance, as Rockhold will have a huge advantage in cardio, and has been in many different types of fights in his career. Boetsch, who was born in Maine and currently trains in Sunbury, PA, does have a big advantage in grappling (1.81 takedown average, compared to only 0.22 for Rockhold). But he must stay on his feet, and off the ground. He has a chance to send a message to the UFC with a big win, but he must be ready early.

UFC 172 - Other Bouts

Lightweight Matchup
Danny Castillo -330
Charlie Brenneman +250

Bantamweight Matchup
Chris Beal -135
Patrick Williams +105

Lightweight Matchup
Jim Miller -210
Yancy Medeiros +170

Featherweight Matchup
Andre Fili -155
Max Holloway +125

Lightweight Matchup
Takanori Gomi -190
Isaac Vallie-Flagg +155

Bantamweight Matchup
Jessamyn Duke +100
Bethe Correia -130

Flyweight Matchup
Joseph Benavidez -450
Tim Elliot +325

  
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