The consensus #1 pound-for-pound mixed martial artist, Jon Jones returns to work this weekend, as he and his UFC Light-Heavyweight Championship takes centre stage at UFC 172, with Glover Teixeira hoping to wrest the belt from Jones’ grasp.
In the co-main event of the evening, we have another clash of 205lb’ers, as Phil Davis takes on the returning Anthony Johnson, in a fight that is likely to have title implications, just not right now. Elsewhere on the card, we have middleweights Luke Rockhold and Tim Boetsch battling it out, as well as lightweights Jim Miller and Yancy Medeiros, and featherweights Max Holloway and Andre Fili duking it out.
But the talent does not run out there my friend, oh no. On to the undercard we go…
Joseph Benavidez vs. Tim Elliot – 125lbs.
Benavidez fell short in his latest quest for the UFC Flyweight Championship in his last outing, losing via KO to divisional kingpin, Demetrious Johnson. That loss snapped a three fight win streak, and any real hope of a title shot any time soon as well, which poses its own issues, as Benavidez is streets ahead of the rest of the pack. If he can put together the kind of win streak that cannot be ignored, Benavidez may well find himself challenging for the belt at some point in the future, and a win over a game Tim Elliot would be a great start. Elliot has shown himself to be durable and competent enough during his time in the UFC with wins over Jared Papazian and Louis Gaudinot, however, he has also shown that he is not quite ready to make the leap to contendership, with defeats to John Dodson and most recently Ali Bagautinov.
Joseph Benavidez has only ever lost to the elite, of which Tim Elliot is not. Benavidez will prove himself to be too fast, too powerful and just an all-round better fighter.
Prediction – Benavidez via KO/TKO
Takanori Gomi vs. Isaac Vallie-Flagg – 155lbs.
There are very few fighters left that on sight fill you with a warm sense of nostalgia, and the only Pride Lightweight Champion in the organisation’s history, Takanori Gomi, is one such fighter. Gomi’s UFC record isn’t exactly stellar, 3-3, but the guy always brings excitement and a gung-ho form of attack. Gomi will be making his Octagon return when he takes on Vallie-Flagg, having been on the sidelines since last March. Vallie-Flagg, however, will fight for the second time this year, having fought and lost to Elias Silverio back in January.
This one should be fun, with each man preferring to wage war on the feet in the past, but I struggle to see past a Gomi win. Gomi may be coming in off a long period of inactivity, but the guy’s power, durability and experience will see him triumph.
Prediction – Gomi via KO/TKO
Jessamyn Duke vs. Bethe Correia – 135lbs.
Former TUF competitor, Jessamyn Duke will be making her second appearance inside the Octagon, having defeated fellow contestant, Peggy Morgan, via unanimous decision back at the November finale. Correia also debuted with the UFC last time out, and looked good in her split decision win over the now-retired Julie Kedzie, back in December.
Correia’s dogged pressure could push Duke in to making a mistake at some point, on which Correia could capitalise, but I favour Duke in this one. A training partner of Ronda Rousey, Duke will have the faster hands and crisper technique in a bout that will likely be contested on the feet for large parts.
Prediction – Duke via decision
Danny Castillo vs. Charlie Brenneman – 155lbs.
Both Castillo and Brenneman lost out in their last bouts; Castillo dropped a majority decision to Edson Barboza back in December, and Brenneman tapped out to Beneil Dariush on his return to the UFC back in January.
Very much a wrestler vs. Wrestler type matchup here, with Castillo having the edge in striking. That slither of diversity gets it done.
Prediction – Castillo via decision
Tags: Charlie Brenneman, Danny Castillo, Glover Teixeira, jon jones, Joseph Benavidez, Mixed Martial Arts, Takanori Gomi, Vagner Rocha