American Jon Jones puts his light-heavyweight crown on the line versus Glover Teixeira at UFC 172 on Saturday night from Maryland’s Baltimore Arena
It’s the 26-year-old Jones seventh consecutive title defense since he won the belt three years ago, while the Brazilian Teixeira tests his 20-match win streak against the best pound-for-pound fighter in all of UFC.
Both fighters made weight during Friday’s weigh-in, as did the rest of the 10-match card including No. 4 ranked Phil Davis for his light-heavyweight battle with No. 14 Anthony Johnson.
Jones endured his first slip-up during his title run in his last fight, a bloody, five-round slugfest with Swede Alexander Gustafsson that ended with a unanimous decision and a trip to the hospital for the champ, and as a result he approached the power-packed Teixeira far more cautiously.
“I think for the first time in my career I really started to feel myself. I really started to think,” Jones said in an interview CBS’s Jim Rome on Wednesday. “‘Maybe I've got this extraordinary talent and maybe I just can't be touched.' I went 80 percent [against Gustafsson]. I'm not making any excuses. Gustafsson did a great job in the fight but I know that I had a lot more in me.
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"I did some of the cardio tests that I normally do and my numbers weren't the same. Me knowing that, I still went into the fight thinking, 'Well, since I've performed excellent, maybe I'll still perform really really high, do really good and the fight may be a little closer if I just put half the effort in. I learned a lesson the hard way that you have to give full effort."
Counting his 5-0 start to his UFC career, Teixiera has ripped through his 20-match streak with submissions and knockouts over the likes of James Te Huna, Quinton “Rampage” Jackson and a TKO of Fabio Maldonado. However he’s never quite met an opponent with Jones’s combination of length, power and quickness.
Slipping past Jones’s long jab, and considerable 8.5 reach advantage, could be Teixeira’s key to his first title shot.
Teixiera, 34, could have been further into his UFC career if not for his illegal immigration to the United States nearly 15 years ago. He was deported in 2008 and had to wait four long years before he could return, despite being married to an American citizen, according to Fox Sports.
Two years later, Texieria has his chance for glory.
"I want to fight for the title," Teixira said to Fox Sports. "I want to get the title. That's my dream. You go after your dreams no matter how many obstacles. You want to go forward. That's what I did."
Start Time: Saturday and depending on how the undercard plays out, the fight will start around 11:45 p.m. EST.
Betting Odds: Jones -550 according to Bovada.lv
Pay-Per-View and Live Online Stream: Order the fight to watch on TV or online at UFC.com
Prediction: Jones avoids enough of Teixeira’s blows and wins on points in a unanimous decision.