UFC 172: Jon Jones vs. Glover Teixeira Preview
The UFC makes its first stop in Baltimore, Maryland, with UFC 172, following a wildly entertaining and underwatched UFC on Fox 11 in Orlando, Florida. Jon Jones defends his light-heavyweight belt against the latest man created in a test tube specifically to take him out, Glover Teixeira. In the co-main, we find out just how much explosion and athleticism the Octagon can contain when Phil Davis meets a returning Anthony Johnson. Luke Rockhold emerges from free TV to fight Tim Boetsch in his pay-per-view debut. In other action on the card, Yancy Medeiros fills in on short notice for Bobby Green against Jim Miller, top-ten flyweights Joseph Benavidez and Tim Elliott are relegated to Fox Sports 1, and…uh…Takanori Gomi?
If the Glover Don’t Fit…
A dominant champ defends his belt on Saturday, which means the UFC miraculously found another contender custom-built to defeat him. The challenger du jour is Teixeira who has the unenviable task of displacing Jones, who has yet to lose a fight by his opponent’s volition. Just how much better equipped is Teixeira compared to prior challengers? Let’s take a look at past Jones betting lines.*
vs. Quinton Jackson: -500
vs. Lyoto Machida: -475
vs. Rashad Evans: -435
vs. Vitor Belfort: -750
vs. Chael Sonnen: -750
vs. Alexander Gustafsson: -701
vs. Glover Teixeira: -496
* – Best available line at fight time. Teixeira line is at time of writing (April 23 at 4 p.m. ET). Courtesy of BestFightOdds.com.
Teixeira slots right in with everyone else with the caveats that Belfort and Sonnen are natural middleweights and a Gustafsson rematch probably closes with a line closer to the Evans fight. (If anything, the market might be giving Teixeira a little more credit with Jones coming out of a fight that he was in danger of sleepwalking through.)
If you wanted to create a fighter to beat Jon Jones, you wouldn’t create one eight years older, two inches shorter, and giving up over eight inches in reach. You know what sort of fighter you would create to beat Jon Jones? Someone taller, faster, wider wingspan, better spatial awareness, more coachable, more creative, and all right, Mike, let’s not belabor the point. You wouldn’t sell this guy as the perfect laboratory creation; he’d just be the better fighter.
Last week, some young Swedish fellow trolled Jones on Twitter. Jones responded by Instagram-stalking him with homophobic rhetoric. By Jones, of course, I mean whoever was in control of Jones’ social media accounts, because Jones and his camp claim he lost his phone and someone picked it up and that someone saw the tweet from this Swedish fellow and found the Swedish’s fellows Instagram account and then started with the “fags” and the “gays” and the “homosexuality is a sin” nonsense. Then this phone thief posted a selfie of Jones to Instagram to make it legit. Five hours later, Jones’ manager announced his client had lost his phone. Jones announced he had a new phone because “apparently” he’d been hacked. Hacked, lost, what’s the difference?
Dana White affirmed the hacked storyline a couple days later, and the media largely lost interest. White’s version of events contained this interesting little tidbit, though (emphasis mine):
“[The hackers] got in there and they changed his password,” White said. “Like 11 people had his password that surround him and we got that squashed and taken care of yesterday.”
Even if you buy the story that someone hacked Jones’ Instagram, there’s still the followup for Kawa here: Why do 11 people have a password to his client’s social media account? At most, three people should have access to that account: Jones, Kawa, and the social media expert they hire to ghostwrite it.
Kawa’s run with Jones has plagued with issues. In the May of 2011, Jones opted for surgery to fix a lingering hand injury, and Kawa did his best to make it appear Jones was ducking Rashad Evans. If Kawa made any statement on Jones’ behalf during the UFC 151 fiasco, Google isn’t picking it up. That’s a situation Jones’ camp should have released a statement, and Kawa should have told Jones to refuse to answer any questions about it. Instead, Jones rambled (though not necessarily without merit) in subsequent public appearances. And then, of course, there’s the whole DUI thing.
Jon Jones should be a huge star right now. He’s a young, attractive, and dominant champion in the UFC’s premier division. Part of that is on the UFC, unable or unwilling to push an individual above the brand. Most of it is on Kawa, a former real estate “expert” turned MMA manager. Jones would be better off at a big boy talent agency (like Creative Artists Agency, which signed Georges St-Pierre back in 2008), and we’ll have to wonder if he’s maximizing his opportunities as long as he sticks with his current situation.
The Perpetual Revolving Contender Machine
After years of insisting he would, Jones now apparently has no desire to move up to heavyweight. He points to a growing list of challengers at light heavyweight. Which, I guess? Past Teixeira, Jones has money fights with Gustafsson in a rematch and Daniel Cormier. Neither fight compares to the money that could be made in a superfight against Cain Velasquez, though. Georges St-Pierre could get away with fighting his entire career at welterweight, both because he was not an enormous specimen for the weight class and he routinely pulled in 750k buys per pay-per-view event. Jones has pulled over 500k buys in just three of his seven headlining events: vs. Quinton Jackson, vs. Rashad Evans, and vs. Chael Sonnen.
Mike Fagan is a weekly contributor to MMA Owl. He also hosts Untethered MMA every Thursday at 7 p.m. ET. Follow him on Twitter.