“I love how every fan boy is saying this is going to be an easy fight for Jones… Glover hasn’t lost in 9 years, those are Fedor numbers. How is that easy?”
Comments like the above are all over social media as we approach UFC 172, emanating tomorrow from the Baltimore Arena in Baltimore, Maryland, where Jon Jones will defend his UFC Light Heavyweight Championship for the time against Glover Teixeira.
It seems fans, or at least a vocal minority of fans, and odds-makers just aren’t seeing eye to eye.
The 34 year old challenger Teixeira, originally from Brazil but fighting out of American Top Team in Coconut Creek, Florida (and also known as a longtime training partner for Chuck Liddell) boasts an impressive-looking 22-2 record which includes a current 19 fight winning streak, spanning nine years and about a half dozen promotions.
But, here he enters the Octagon as much as +415 underdog.
Maybe it’s the way Jon Jones was nearly an upset victim in his last appearance, where Alexander Gustafsson took the then-dominant champion to the limit over five grueling rounds. Many even scored the bout for the challenger. I didn’t, but it was admittedly close, and really a classic battle — where many expected a walkover. I go into detail about it here. Gustafsson, it should be noted, was an even greater underdog, facing odds as high as +700.
Maybe it’s that Glover Teixeira, who hasn’t appeared in many PPV bouts, is kind of an unknown, and UFC fans feel like they’re due for a surprise. (Does the promotion, and maybe MMA in general, just feel stale to anyone else?) Maybe its hype from the likes of UFC commentator Joe Rogan, who memorably described Teixeira “A devastating fighter with no weaknesses.”
Maybe it’s that Jones is perceived as arrogant, and people just want to believe he can lose tomorrow. (For that matter, Jone calls himself arrogant.)
Whatever it is, it seems people want to believe in the upset.
Nope. I think the odds-makers have it right.
It’s true, Teixeira is an impressive-looking fighter. He’s done nothing but win every bout. But, against whom? And, how?
Gustafsson, in hindsight, was a nightmare opponent for Jones. Jones had out-boxed and out-foxed every opponent, setting up power shots easily and using superior physicality — including a sizable reach advantage — to dominate his every opponent. Gustafsson had the attributes to prevent that, and hit hard enough to keep Jones at arm’s length. Looking back he showed all those qualities in solid wins over the likes of Thiago Silva and Mauricio Rua.
Teixeira is slower and smaller. He hits hard — and sure, it’s MMA and anyone can get caught. We saw an elite MMA striker in Edson Barbosa stunned by a jab last week, leading to a stoppage victory for Donald Cerrone. You don’t want to apply odds to it. It’s unlikely he’ll win the wrestling exchanges, either.
Sure, his record looks great, but he just doesn’t have the quality wins (Fabio Maldanado?) or the style to logically predict the upset here.
Look for the champion to keep his belt after a slow, grinding assault with a stoppage in the later rounds. Then, hopefully, Gustafsson will get the rematch he deserves.