Anton Tabuena: Glover has the power to end this at any time, but like the Rampage fight, I think he will also have a lot of trouble dealing with the range and length of Jones. I think Jones will be able to keep Glover on the outside for the most part, and land clinch takedowns on the few times he gets inside. Although I hope I'm wrong and Teixeira can make it interesting, I think Jones will take a comfortable, albeit uneventful decision win. Jon Jones by Decision.
Mookie Alexander: The X-factor here is whether or not Glover Teixeira is as dangerous off of his back as Vitor Belfort was. Jones tends to get a bit careless in guard and it's ripe for armbars. I don't see Glover having the success that Gustafsson had on the feet, primarily because Gustafsson had the comparable size and is arguably the best overall striker in the division. Theoretically, Glover has a puncher's chance, but after that it should be all Jones. Jon Jones by TKO (ground strikes), round 3.
T.P. Grant: Teixeira presents some interesting problems for Jones, but at this point the only things I think that can derail Jones' title reign is either a rematch with Gus or Jones losing his mental edge. Maybe Jones tries to kickboxing Teixeira and pays for it, but more likely I see him going back to his roots and wrestling Teixeira down and hurting him at some point on the mat. Jon Jones by TKO, Round 2.
Patrick Wyman: This fight is all about range and the control thereof. Barring the occasional high kick, Glover simply has nothing with which to threaten Jones from outside boxing range: even his takedowns, especially his favorite snatch single, are all executed from the inside. Glover's going to be game and he'll try to push a quick pace, and if he can get Jones to the ground the fight becomes very interesting, but I have a very difficult time seeing how that's going to happen consistently enough for him to have a real shot at winning. Jones, unanimous decision.
Fraser Coffeen: While it's true that Teixeira has the power to hurt Jones, I don't feel comfortable saying that he has the edge standing. It's just hard for me to shake the mental image of Glover getting hurt by Bader before the win. Bader's not a bad fighter by any means, but if he was able to have success standing against Glover, Jones should have the advantage there as well. I'll say he controls the stand-up, before eventually taking it down and getting the stoppage. Jon Jones by submission, round 3.
Dallas Winston: Here's my thing with Jonesy: he's so unusually creative and unorthodox on the feet that, pre-Gustafsson, I wondered aloud about what role he'd fall back on if he ever got in trouble. In other words, he's so unpredictable and dynamic that it leaves a question mark on what his "bread and butter" is on the feet. And when he was tested by Gus ... he mounted his comeback and eventually took over using a lead step-in elbow and a left high kick? Regardless, I've been most impressed with Glover's ability to wrestle, which is an impressive and under-appreciated piece in his finish-potent puzzle. However, Glover does not transition smoothly from striking to wrestling nor when attacking an opponent who doesn't retreat straight backward. You can never close the door on a multifarious and offensively explosive juggernaut like Glover, but Jones foot-speed, in addition to the range problems he presents, seals it for me. Jon Jones by decision.
Zane Simon: I can't even pretend I'm going to read all these paragraphs above me talking about how Jones will win, so if I'm just repeating what someone else already said... too damn bad. Essentially, I think Glover can be competitive, if not dominant in close boxing range, but I don't think he'll have the pure wrestling to take Jones down or the range tools to sit on the outside. That leaves him with one very predictable avenue of offense and if Jones isn't prepared to make getting there as difficult as possible, then he's not planning for the right fight. Jones by TKO round 3.
Staff picking Jones: Grant, Stephie, Patrick, DSM, Anton, Mookie, Fraser, Dallas, Karim, Tim, Zane, Iain
Staff picking Teixeira:
In the video below, Bloody Elbow's own Kid Nate, Zane Simon and Connor Ruebusch analyzed each UFC 172 fight in detail and offered their predictions.
Anton Tabuena: It all boils down to their wrestling. If Davis can take him down, he will take this easily, if not, he will be in a lot of trouble standing. Tough pick, especially since it's just 3 rounds, but I'm leaning towards Davis here. Phil Davis by Submission.
Mookie Alexander: I feel that the purpose of this fight is to put Rumble over as the next, exciting contender. Davis is the better fighter but I don't think the public has perceived him to be great since the Evans loss. The question becomes whether or not Rumble has improved so drastically that he's now a legitimate top 5 LHW. This doesn't look like a favorable matchup for Davis, as Rumble is a lethal striker who is easily the faster man on the feet, but I have a feeling that Davis is going to survive an early rush by Johnson, who will then fade and Davis will pull away late. I must admit I am in no way confident picking either fighter and this is the toughest match-up of the night for me. Phil Davis by submission, round 3.
Patrick Wyman: This is a fascinating matchup. Rumble has grown remarkably since joining the Blackzilians and subsequently getting cut from the UFC: his striking is even more dangerous, his wrestling is still on point, and he seems to have solved the cardio and pace issues that plagued him earlier in his career. Davis, a 2:1 favorite, presents a serious challenge. His takedowns are good enough to ground anybody in the division, and his long, rangy striking complements that game nicely. With that said, there are two kinds of fighters who can give Rumble real problems: accomplished strikers with excellent takedown defense who can exploit his porous defense at boxing distance, and quick-paced grapplers who can exploit his poor submission defense. Given his somewhat lackadaisical output, I don't think Davis fits either mold well enough to pick him here. Rumble, close unanimous decision.
Dallas Winston: I see this as a huge test of Rumble's maturity and Fight IQ. If he fights tactically and chambers off quick and tight kickboxing combos while using a lot of movement to avoid counter takedowns, he has a great shot of out-pointing Davis on the feet. It's almost impossible to simply pressure Davis with aggressive strikes and straight-line movement because he'll change levels and put you on your back, which typically puts him a round ahead. I'd like to see Rumble lay back a little and make Phil come to/at him. I'm also guessing that Rumble's quickness and speed could cause some problems -- Phil's kickboxing has improved dramatically but he seems a tad slow with his delivery. Phil Davis by sub or decision.
Zane Simon: At the outset I really felt like this fight was going to be competitive, the more I thought about it though the less I think this will be the case. What's worse is that I think Rumble expects this to be a very competitive fight and while I don't think he'll get finished I wouldn't be surprised at all if he found himself getting out struck, taken down, and generally roughed up on the way to a clear 3 round loss. If he cracks Davis all that could change as it might change Davis' confidence, but I think Davis, as good as he is, is better than advertised. I see him cruising by a overconfident, underprepared Anthony Jonson. Phil Davis by decision.
Staff picking Davis: DSM, Anton, Fraser, Mookie, Dallas, Karim, Tim, Zane, Iain, Grant
Staff picking Rumble: Stephie, Patrick
Anton Tabuena: Boetsch can make it an ugly brawl that makes it a much closer contest, but I do think Rockhold is just the better overall fighter, so he should take this. Luke Rockhold by Decision.
Mookie Alexander: Boetsch's run at 185 was fun, if not aided by a questionable decision and a miraculous KO, but he's regressed big time. Rockhold is going to tool him from start to finish, and the only thing worth watching is whether Rockhold gets a stoppage or does enough to get a 10-8 here and there. Luke Rockhold by lopsided unanimous decision.
Patrick Wyman: Boetsch has nothing for Rockhold. He can't outwrestle him, he can't strike with him at distance, and he can't outgrapple him. The lone area where he might have a slight advantage is at infighting range, and even there I think it's basically a wash. Boetsch's defense has always been a little suspect, and Rockhold has pretty outstanding power to go along with his fine technical striking. Rockhold, KO, round 2.
Dallas Winston: This will be a range game: Rockhold is one of the better fringe strikers at 85 and Boetsch is notably absent of a wide arsenal from outside. He throws the straight front kick but his intention of inevitably hurling some punches and knifing inside behind them to shrink the gap makes him a great match up for Rockhold. Boetsch has the horsepower, mentality and punching heft to change the complexion of a fight with one jackhammer in the phone booth, but Rockhold's agility and lateral movement should keep him out of The Barbarian's wheelhouse.
Zane Simon: I'm a little sorry to say this, because I have a soft spot for Boetsch and his redneck Judo, but I think he's going to get creamed in this fight. I could see this looking a lot like Rockhold vs. Philippou, with a potentially dangerous matchup turning into a one-sided beating early. Luke Rockhold by KO, Round 1.
Staff picking Boetsch:
Staff picking Rockhold: Stephanie, Mookie, Patrick, DSM, Anton, Fraser, Dallas, Karim, Tim, Zane, Iain, Grant
Mookie Alexander: I love watching Jim Miller fight, but I think he's on the decline. He's been taking beatings in his losses and that's a concern of mine, and that he's the only fighter in 4 fights not to defeat Pat Healy could suggest more about Miller than of Healy. I actually think Medeiros' striking could test Miller's chin a bit, but the deciding factor will be Miller's fantastic ground game, where his advantage is distinctly clear. Jim Miller, submission, round 2.
Patrick Wyman: It's hard to tell what to make of Miller at this point - he's 3-3 in his last six after starting his UFC career 9-1 - and Medeiros is a powerful and athletic prospect at 155. A bolder man than I would probably be picking Medeiros here, but I think Miller is primed to put together a nice late-career run that ends around the bottom half of the top 10. Miller, submission, round 2.
Dallas Winston: Wouldn't be surprised in the least if Medeiros checks Jim's chin a few times here but, even if his body is showing signs of high mileage, Miller's three-dimensional onslaught and his intelligence to apply it as necessary should make the difference. I expect Medeiros to be surprisingly game and competitive -- he's Hawaiian for fuck's sake -- and to make Miller look average in a hard-fought loss. Slight tremors have been detected via the Potential Upset Meter though. Jim Miller by submission.
Zane Simon: What was supposed to be a really competitive bout for Miller has turned into yet another "relevancy fight." If he doesn't beat Medeiros, than fears that he may be getting worn out become much more distinct possibilities. Medeiros is big, strong, and dangerously powerful, but Miller is a vet who's faced similar fighters and beaten better fighters. I expect him to get the sub, but I'll be watching carefully to see how this fight plays out. Jim Miller by submission, round 1.
Staff picking Medeiros:
Staff picking Miller: Stephanie, Patrick, DSM, Anton, Mookie, Fraser, Dallas, Karim, Tim, Zane, Iain, Grant
Mookie Alexander: I've underestimated Holloway in the past and don't feel entirely comfortable picking Fili, especially considering Holloway's solid takedown defense and creative striking, but the power advantage clearly goes to Fili. This has potential to be FOTN and I think that's what we'll get, but Fili should have what it takes to get a late stoppage. Andre Fili, submission, round 3.
Patrick Wyman: I'm a huge fan of Holloway - he's one of my favorite durable, high-volume action fighters - but this is a bad matchup for him. Fili is the much more powerful striker, and he complements that game with the kind of wrestling and grappling chops you'd expect from an Alpha Male fighter. There's a reason scouts have been high on Fili for a few years now, and while Holloway is a fine young fighter in his own right, I just don't think he has the firepower or the diversity of skills necessary to win this one. Fili, unanimous decision.
Dallas Winston: Somewhat curious match-making for Holloway, who is likely to continue improving at a dramatic rate over the next half-decade, but he is coming off a favorable pairing in Will Chope. I'm super impressed with Fili but he has never encountered an opponent of this caliber -- both from a status standpoint and the phenom-ish wizardry Holloway's shown on the feet. Usually, Holloway's height/length would be a huge asset against a wrestling-minded opponent, but "Touchy" Fili is a gangly ass featherweight with good agility, which make for excellent compliments to his wrestling game. I see this as fairly even. Max Holloway by unanimous decision.
Zane Simon: Watching tape on both of these fighters is both an exercise in excitement and disappointment. Holloway is dynamic and skilled, but is plagued by a lack of punching power and a some lingering defensive vulnerabilities (none of which include his chin). Fili, conversely has tons of power, no striking polish, slick transitional offense, and the and all the defensive mindset of a kamikaze pilot (and also a great chin). Because I don't see Holloway getting KO'd and because I think he has enough tactical awareness to keep this fight at range, I think he'll outpoint Fili for three rounds, but I expect it to be close and hard fought all the way. Max Holloway by Decision.
Staff picking Fili: Stephie, Patrick, DSM, Anton, Mookie, Fraser, Karim, Tim, Iain, Grant
Staff picking Holloway: Dallas, Zane
Joseph Benavidez vs. Tim Elliott
Mookie Alexander: Elliott is the only UFC fighter who hasn't been slept by John Dodson, which is about the only thing preventing me from picking Benavidez to starch him. Joseph Benavidez by 30-26 decision.
Patrick Wyman: Unless Johnson irrevocably broke something fundamental in Benavidez last time out, he's just a better fighter than Elliott in every phase. Elliott is fun, quirky, and durable, with a surprisingly well-rounded game, but he doesn't have the speed, power, or explosiveness that Benavidez brings to the table. Benavidez, unanimous decision.
Dallas Winston: Loves me some Tim Elliott. There's just something about a gritty scrapper who isn't afraid to take chances and looks like an unshaven, unwashed Nordic barbarian, but comes in a pint-sized package. I agree with Wyman that Joey B's agility and athleticism should nullify Elliott's unbendable will and aggression, especially when he penetrates into contact/clinch range. Joseph Benavidez by convincing decision.
Zane Simon: This could be a real fight, if Elliott was a smarter fighter. He has size, cardio, and the wrestling chops to make any bout a tough one. Unfortunately, he also showed in his Bagautinov fight, that he's willing to forgo all that to stand in front of his opponent and get teed off on for 15 minutes. He may have a great chin and a ton of useful fighting gifts, but right now he's wasting them and Benavidez isn't the kind of fighter to let opportunities go by. Joseph Benavidez by TKO, Round 2.
Staff picking Benavidez: Stephie, Patrick, DSM, Anton, Mookie, Fraser, Dallas, Karim, Tim, Zane, Iain, Grant
Staff picking Elliott:
Tim Burke: IVF seems like a nice guy, but this is the Fireball Kid. The greatest of all time. THE GREATEST OF ALL TIME. If you don't think he's the greatest of all time, I got two words for you. Oh, Steph and Karim...we're gonna have to have a little chat outside the bar. Takanori Gomi by homicide.
Anton Tabuena: I'm just hoping he doesn't get robbed again. Takanori Gomi by Decision.
Mookie Alexander: Fannie Flagg of Match Game has an equal chance of beating Gomi. Also, Tim Burke did not threaten to revoke my Bloody Elbow snack bar pass by making me pick Gomi to win. Takanori Gomi, KO, 3 minutes before the intros.
Patrick Wyman: Barring Gomi's sixteen-year career catching up with him all at once, this is his fight to lose. Vallie-Flagg doesn't have the takedown chops or the grappling to really threaten Gomi, and on the feet this is all Fireball Kid. With that said, Vallie-Flagg is crazy durable, so I doubt he'll get finished. Gomi, unanimous decision.
Dallas Winston: "Gomi Head ... make my day." And per Tim Burke's admirable pre-prediction proclamation, Crooklyn is hereby banned from all future participation. Gomi by retro-era fireball.
Zane Simon: Seriously, we've got two people on staff not picking Gomi. What is this, the stupid ages? Unashamed fanboyisms aside, IVF's last fight showed that he isn't all that great against aggressive strikers who can put him on his heels, and he doesn't have the kind of power that's going to scare Gomi off. Fireball Kid by KO, Round 2.
Staff picking Gomi: Mookie, Patrick, DSM, Anton, Fraser, Dallas, Tim, Zane, Iain
Staff picking IVF: Stephie, Karim, Grant
Fraser Coffeen: Correia has the advantage on paper. She has more fights, she's faced better competition, and she's coming off a win over veteran Julie Kedzie, while Duke remains a pretty raw fighter who seems to have potential that has not yet been realized. But she's also a fast learner, and has been working with Rousey. It's entirely possible that I am giving her too much credit, but I think she's on the rise, and quickly, and I think this will be a big fight for her. Jessamyn Duke by submission, round 1.
Dallas Winston: Oh Jessamyn Duke, you slinky Muay Thai vixen, you. Jessamyn Duke by decision.
Zane Simon: I know Duke is, like, half a person bigger than Bethe Correia, but one of the biggest aspects missing from WMMA is the consistent use of height and reach advantage. Duke's fun, but she can't throw a straight punch to save her life and I love what I've seen from Correia lately. She's become a very fluid boxer with some real pop in her hands. There's every possibility that Duke has improved a ton since her last fight (she's only had 3 pro bouts after all), but I don't like to bet on potential. Bethe Correia by Decision.
Staff picking Correia: Stephie, Patrick, Tim, Zane, Iain, Grant
Staff picking Duke: DSM, Anton, Fraser, Mookie, Karim
Mookie Alexander: Brenneman folds when he gets hit flush, isn't going to grind Castillo, so it's Castillo's fight to lose. His killer instinct cost him fights against Michael Johnson and Edson Barboza, but if he can't get the finish on Brenneman he should still be able to get the decision. I think he gets the stoppage anyway. Danny Castillo, submission, round 2.
Patrick Wyman: Both of these guys are grinders, Brenneman more so than Castillo, and it's the guy who's actually capable of winning in a different fashion who'll take this one. In case you were wondering, that's Castillo. He'll stuff Brenneman's takedowns, and eventually he'll hit the Spaniard with a shot his suspect chin can't take to solidify a dominant decision victory. Castillo, unanimous decision.
Dallas Winston: A bit of a deceivingly difficult match up for Castillo. Brenneman will look to toss a few strikes and lumber forward for takedowns, so Castillo will have to find the balance between planting his feet and drilling counter-shots when he's coming in but without over-committing and leaving himself susceptible to takedowns. Brenneman is better in his singular-dimension specialty and Castillo will have to hang in the wrestling department while capitalizing on his striking and scrambles to keep it standing.
Zane Simon: I for one don't blame Castillo for turning down Gomi for Brenneman. Both Castillo and Brenneman are serviceable wrestle boxers, but Castillo has more polish and power in his hands and every bit as much skill behind his wrestling. He's not at much risk of getting KO'd by Brenneman either, so even if he drops a round, he should have plenty of time to work with. This is a much safer fight and a much better matchup, where two fighters have similar skills but one of them just does everything better. Danny Castillo by TKO, Round 1.
Staff picking Brenneman:
Staff picking Castillo: Stephie, Patrick, DSM, Anton, Mookie, Fraser, Dallas, Karim, Tim, Iain, Zane, Grant
Zane Simon: I know that Chris Beal is the "name" fighter here, but this is a terrible matchup for him. Coming out of Knuckleheadz Boxing gym, he's a really one dimensional talent (and it's not a terribly deep dimension). He boxes well, but without power, and without the greatest defensive base in the world. Across from him will be former ASU wrestler Patrick Williams, who cut his teeth alongside Velasquez, Dolloway, and Bader on the mat. Since his wrestling days he's developed a devastatingly powerful striking game to accompany his powerful wrestling skills. He's a bit of a "live by the sword" fighter, but between two guys who are going to throw strikes and get hit, I'll take the one with real KO power, a kicking game, and a solid wrestling game, over the low powered boxer with a shallow record. Patrick Williams by KO, round 2.
Staff picking Beal: Stephie, DSM, Patrick, Anton, Mookie, Fraser, Dallas, Karim, Iain, Grant
Staff picking Williams: Tim, Zane