UFC 172 in Baltimore, Maryland had quite a few memorable moments.
The PPV broadcast began with a rarity in today’s MMA climate: three straight submission finishes. The preliminary bouts included two dramatic knockouts, one via a rare flying knee from Chris Beal — which commentator Joe Rogan dubbed “about the best flying knee I’ve ever seen in the Octagon… absolutely perfect.”
But in the end, the night was dominated by two men, who may find themselves looking across the cage at one another in the near future. For one, it was, the UFC claimed, his record 14th win in the light heavyweight division. For the other, it was actually his first at light heavy for ZUFFA. Both claimed victory in their bouts via grueling, one-sided decisions.
Jon Jones defeated Glover Teixeira in the main event, defending his UFC Light Heavyweight Championship for a record seventh consecutive time. Jones dominated from bell to bell of the five round contest, hitting a few kicks and punches at range, but — perhaps surprisingly — also in the clinch.
Jones would remark afterwards that he “improvised” the strategy, rather than the planned tactic of striking at range to set up takedowns and a ground-and-pound assault, when he felt how the challenger Teixeira was “loading up” with his punches.
In the co-main, Anthony “Rumble” Johnson beat the odds-makers by dismantling Phil Davis. Davis, the fourth ranked light heavyweight in the UFC’s’s official rankings to Johnson’s #14, was similarly overwhelmed by the noticeably larger Johnson from the opening bell. Johnson shrugged off Davis’ every takedown attempt, countering with hard punching combinations. Davis was bloodied by the end of the first stanza and, for the first time in his storied MMA career, was never really in the fight.
As the bout wore on, Johnson looked increasingly relaxed, hitting head kicks and switching from southpaw to orthodox stances for punches to the head and body. An uppercut landed all night as well.
It was an interesting night of fights. A hard-fought victory for Takanori Gomi, an old favorite of Japanese MMA’s heyday, was another highlight.
But two dominant performances, by two remarkable athletes of today’s scene, really shined. Perhaps the question is, who will shine if they share an Octagon? Let us know what you think.