A breakdown of the fights on the main card of UFC 172 today at Baltimore Arena:
Jon Jones (19-1) vs. Glover Teixeira (22-2)
■ CLASS: For light heavyweight title
■ LINE: Jones -500
■ STORYLINE: Jones is coming off the toughest test of his UFC career, a decision over Alexander Gustafsson in September where he had to win the final two rounds to get the judges’ nod and retain the belt. Teixeira has won 20 straight fights, including a 5-0 mark in the UFC. His last loss came in 2005. Yet Jones is a hefty favorite and it’s tougher to find someone picking Teixeira than a Colts fan here in Baltimore. Teixeira is well-rounded and has plenty of power. He’s just not likely to be able to get close enough to Jones to land any significant blows. Plus, Teixeira has been rocked a few times during his UFC stint. Jones is too long and has too much range. Plus, he has a point to prove coming off the Gustafsson fight. Expect Jones to take little damage, work Teixeira to the ground and pound him out with punches and elbows.
■ PICK: Jones by second-round knockout
Phil Davis (12-1, 1 No Contest) vs. Anthony Johnson (16-4)
■ CLASS: Light heavyweight
■ LINE: Davis -230
■ STORYLINE: Davis, emboldened by statements by UFC president Dana White that his reserved attitude equates to a lack of desire for a title shot, has done nothing but talk trash about Jones all week. He even jokingly admonished a reporter at Thursday’s media session at Camden Yards. He needs to get serious about Johnson soon. Johnson’s first stint in the UFC ended due to numerous weight issues that he now pins on being “young and dumb.” He left the organization, moved up to light heavyweight and has been on a tear. This is a big step up in competition, but Johnson is a dangerous striker against anyone. If Davis is indeed overlooking Johnson, the underdog is likely a good bet here. Davis, however, is extremely good at what he does. Assuming he comes in focused, he should be able to close distance and taken Johnson down to control the fight on the mat. Johnson has shown a propensity to get frustrated by wrestlers even though that’s his background as well..
■ PICK: Davis by decision
Luke Rockhold (11-2) vs. Tim Boetsch (17-6)
■ CLASS: Welterweight
■ LINE: Rockhold -800
■ STORYLINE: The hype train on Rockhold may have slowed a bit with a knockout loss to Vitor Belfort in his UFC debut, but the oddsmakers still appear to be big fans of the former Strikeforce champion. Rockhold rebounded from that loss with an impressive first-round finish of Costa Philippou in January and will now look to make it two wins a row. Rockhold, who trains at American Kickboxing Academy with heavyweight champ Cain Velasquez and others, is a dynamic striker who actually finished four straight Strikeforce bouts by rear-naked choke. Boetsch had won his four fights at middleweight to climb into contention before falling back to earth with losses to Philippou and Mark Munoz. He is more of a wrestler who occasionally flashes knockout power. Rockhold is too athletic and diverse in his game for Boetsch.
■ PICK: Rockhold by decision
Jim Miller (23-4, 1 NC) vs. Yancy Medeiros (9-1, 1 NC)
■ CLASS: Lightweight
■ LINE: Miller -210
■ STORYLINE: Miller was slated to fight Bobby Green in a potential fight of the night matchup, but Green was hurt last week and had to pull out. Medeiros was supposed to be on the preliminary card, only to accept the opportunity to step up and fight the veteran. This is the kind of fight Medeiros would probably be favored to win in a year or two. He is a rapidly improving 155-pounder who began his pro career fighting at 205. He can do a little of everything and has flashed impressive power while staying under control in the cage. Miller won’t get caught in a standup battle. He knows he’s not a technical enough striker to play that game. Look for him to get to the ground whenever he can and try to win the fight there. Experience will be the difference and Miller will need every bit of it.
■ PICK: Miller by third-round submission.
Andre Fili (13-1) vs. Max Holloway (8-3)
■ CLASS: Featherweight
■ LINE: Fili -155
■ STORYLINE: This is likely to be the most entertaining bout on the main card while it lasts. Both fighters are dynamic strikers who tend to show little interest in defending. Fili is the next of the young prospects to come out of Team Alpha Male gym in Sacramento, but you wouldn’t know it from watching him fight. The gym’s traditional “overhand rights and guillotines” style as dubbed by former bantamweight champion Dominick Cruz is not really Fili’s forte. He’s more of a well-rounded striker with a wide open style. He’s still just 23 and hasn’t shown enough defensively to warrant being a favorite over a guy like Holloway who is more than capable of exposing that potential flaw. Holloway is actually younger at 22, but has had seven fights in the UFC to just one for Fili. He is coming off a knockout of the night performance over Will Chope in January.
■ PICK: Holloway by second-round knockout
ADAM HILL/LAS VEGAS REVIEW-JOURNAL