Chinks in the armor?
Jon Jones' mixed martial arts (MMA) mystique took a hit last September when he narrowly edged Swedish bruiser Alexander Gustafsson at UFC 165 en route to an unpopular unanimous decision. And now Glover Teixeira wants to shatter it in the main event of UFC 172, which takes place this Saturday evening (April 26, 2014) from Baltimore Arena in Baltimore, Maryland.
Meanwhile, in the co-main event, Anthony Johnson makes his Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) return when he faces Phil Davis in a Light Heavyweight showdown, while Luke Rockhold takes on Tim Boetsch farther down the pay-per-view (PPV) card in a Middleweight match up.
There are just six UFC 172 "Prelims" under card bouts this weekend, the first two of which will stream online via Fight Pass and the remaining four airing on FOX Sports 1.
Let's get to it:
155 lbs.: Joe Ellenberger vs. Vagner Rocha
Joe Ellenberger (14-1) -- fraternal twin of Welterweight contender Jake Ellenberger -- has overcome a life-threatening blood disease to become a standout fighter in his own right. "Excalibur" has won two straight since his lone career loss to UFC veteran Justin Salas in Oct. 2011.
Ten of his wins have come inside the distance (six via knockout).
Originally a short-notice opponent for Donald Cerrone, Vagner Rocha (11-3) went 1-2 in his first UFC run, beating Cody McKenzie before suffering a knockout loss to Jonathan Brookins. Since that defeat, he has won four straight (three via) submission.
He replaces Yancy Medeiros, who was bumped up to face Jim Miller, on just one week’s notice.
Unless Rocha has vastly improved since his last time in the UFC, I can’t see this ending well for him. Joe, while not quite the monster that his brother is, packs that same blend of big power, great wrestling, and surprisingly-fast hands. Rocha needs to put him on his back quickly if he wants to have a chance here and that’s just not likely to happen, especially not on short notice.
Joe has been off for over a year, which is a concern, but I do think he is sufficiently superior that it won’t make a difference. The Ellenberger brothers go 2-0 against Rochas as Joe knocks Vagner’s block off with a counter sometime in the first.
Prediction: Ellenberger via first-round knockout
155 lbs.: Danny Castillo vs. Charlie Brenneman
Following decision wins over Paul Sass and Tim Means, Danny Castillo (16-6) looked poised to score a big upset over Edson Barboza, badly rocking the Brazilian with a right hand in the opening round. Unfortunately for the Team Alpha Male representative, he could not maintain his advantage, losing the striking battle in the latter two rounds and falling via majority decision.
"Last Call" has ended nine fights inside the distance and owns wins over Featherweight contenders Ricardo Lamas and Dustin Poirier.
After a 1-3 stretch that saw him finished three times inside one round, Charlie Brenneman (19-6) tried his hand on the local circuit, winning four straight and dropping to 155 in the process. Despite his proclaimed lack of fear of punches at his new weight, Brenneman was dropped and submitted quickly by Beneil Dariush upon his return to the Octagon.
All six of his losses have come to current active members of the UFC roster.
Picking a Brenneman fight is never an easy task. He’s got really great wrestling, but has this weird chin where he gets hit, collapses awkwardly, immediately gets up and then gets smashed again. It’s like those little bobbing bird toys, only with punches. I’m sorely tempted to pick him, but every time I’m about to make the recommendation, I remember that Dariush, who has all of two knockouts, dropped him.
It wouldn’t surprise me at all to see Brenneman score a few takedowns early. Eventually, though, he’s going to run into something painful and yo-yo his way to another stoppage loss.
Prediction: Castillo via second-round technical knockout
135 lbs.: Chris Beal vs. Patrick Williams
Chris Beal (8-0) earned a spot in The Ultimate Fighter (TUF) 18 house by defeating Swedish prospect Sirwan Kakai, impressing enough in the process to be Ronda Rousey’s first male pick. Possibly dealing with hand issues, he fell in the quarterfinals to eventual winner Chris Holdsworth, who forced him to submit via rear-naked choke.
"The Real Deal" has fought once since his appearance on the show, scoring a knockout in March under the BAMMA USA banner.
Patrick Williams (7-3) -- another member of the vaunted Arizona State University (ASU) wrestling squad that included Cain Velasquez, among others -- has won four of his last five fights all inside the first round. Of his seven wins, six have come inside the distance (four via knockout).
He has yet to win more than two straight in his brief career.
Beal may have more screentime, but I’m leaning toward Williams here. Beal’s ground game isn’t anything to write home about and Williams’ wrestling credentials suggest that he should be able to put him on his back as needed. Williams also looks to be the harder puncher despite Beal’s boxing training.
Expect Williams to make Beal worry about his takedowns, setting up a big power shot sometime in the second round.
And ASU rolls on ...
Prediction: Williams via second-round technical knockout
We've got three more UFC 172 "Prelims" fights to preview and predict tomorrow, including an intriguing Flyweight clash and the return of one of the sport's legends.
See you there, Maniacs!
MMAmania.com will provide LIVE round-by-round, blow-by-blow coverage of the entire UFC 172 fight card on fight night (Sat., April 26, 2014), starting with the Fight Pass "Prelims" matches online, which are scheduled to begin at 7 p.m. ET, right on through the FOX Sports 1-televised under card bouts at 8 p.m. ET and then main card PPV, which is slated to begin at 10 p.m. ET.