The UFC heads into Baltimore Arena with perhaps the greatest light heavyweight champion in MMA history atop the event card. UFC champ Jon Jones will put his light heavyweight title on the line against dangerous Brazilian striker Glover Teixeira.

Fighting out of the same gym as UFC Hall of Famer Chuck “The Iceman” Liddell, Teixeira will look to use his thunderous knockout power to dethrone Jones. Teixeira comes into the fight riding a 20-fight winning streak. Jones, meanwhile, will look to make his sixth straight title defense.

The evening’s co-main event marks the return of Anthony “Rumble” Johnson to the Octagon. Johnson has won all six of his bouts since being released by the promotion after UFC 142. That run includes a win over former UFC heavyweight champ Andrei Arlovski and devastating knockouts of Jake Rosholt and Mike Kyle. Welcoming Rumble back to the UFC will be former NCAA Division I wrestling champ Phil Davis. “Mr. Wonderful” is coming off the biggest win of his career against former UFC champion Lyoto Machida, but their bout was mired in controversy. Davis hasn’t been in the Octagon since. Now, he will look to stamp his own claim as a worthy title contender at the expense of the returning Johnson.

Also on the main card is a pivotal middleweight battle between former Strikeforce champ Luke Rockhold and Tim Boetsch. Jim Miller was originally scheduled to face Bobby Green, but he will now fight Yancy Medeiros. And Max Holloway faces Andre Fili in a battle of featherweight prospects.

The prelims feature a slew of known fighters, including Takanori Gomi, former TUF competitor Jessamyn Duke and Joe Ellenberger, who makes his much-anticipated UFC debut. Also, Joseph Benavidez will face Tim Elliott in a clash of top-10 featherweights to cap off the prelim portion of UFC 172.

The action kicks off at 7 p.m. ET on UFC Fight Pass with two preliminary card bouts. Then, it’s off to Fox Sports 1 at 8 p.m. ET for the remainder of the prelims. The main card airs live on pay-per-view beginning at 10 p.m. ET.

The MMA Corner’s Rob Tatum, RJ Gardner and Kyle Symes break down the entire fight card in this edition of the Round Table.

FW: Andre Fili (13-1) vs. Max Holloway (8-3)

Gardner: Kicking off the pay-per-view portion of the card is a great featherweight match-up between two of the UFC’s bright young stars, Max Holloway and Andre Fili. Both fighters are coming off second-round TKO victories, and they are looking to make an impact in the division.

Since entering the UFC two years ago, Holloway has shown a lot of promise. He is continuing to develop his game along the way. Already a skilled striker, he should have the advantage on the feet in this one. However, he is going to have to be on his game in the takedown defense department if he wants to survive the Team Alpha Male product.

Fili is currently riding a nine-fight winning streak. He looked like a beast at UFC 166, especially considering he took the fight on only two weeks’ notice. Working with the likes of Chad Mendes and Urijah Faber, Fili is dangerous in all aspects of the fight game.

With two young, motivated fighters both looking to make a statement in the featherweight division, this one has the potential to steal the show. There is a lot to like about Holloway, but Fili trains at the better camp against tougher competition. That tips the scales in his favor. Fili wins this one via unanimous decision.

Tatum: Although my fellow panelist brings up a valid point in regards to where these two featherweights train, he’s neglected to look at the level of competition these young fighters have faced.

Holloway was essentially thrown to the wolves by the UFC when he stepped up on late notice to face Dustin Poirier in his Octagon debut. Since that time, he’s also battled Dennis Bermudez, Conor McGregor and Leonard Garcia. Unfortunately for the Hawaiian, he only walked away with one victory in that stretch, as he controversially edged Garcia on the scorecards. Yet, the 22-year-old has managed to compile four wins with the promotion, including a second-round stoppage of Will Chope in his last outing.

Holloway marks a significant step up in competition for Fili. Yes, Fili was dominant in his promotional debut in October, but most of the opposition he’s faced on the regional circuit is less than heralded. Training with Team Alpha Male may help bridge the gap for Fili, but is he really ready for a pay-per-view main card?

Expect this fight to stay on the feet throughout as Fili tries to land power shots and Holloway looks to put together combinations from the outside. Holloway has never been finished on the feet, and that won’t change here. He’ll weather Fili’s early barrages and pick him apart in the later rounds. Holloway by unanimous decision.

Symes: This will be a true test of Fili’s worth in the UFC. He’s been receiving quite a bit of praise and looked great in his UFC debut. In similar fashion, Holloway has also been tagged as a prospect to watch.

However, Rob is on the mark with his observation of the entirely different levels of competition the two men have faced. Holloway has encountered a number of tough guys at 145 pounds, whereas Fili hasn’t seen much competition while on the regional scene. Although it’s not always easy to find quality opponents for people at that level, it still would’ve been nice to see Fili face some credible names prior to joining the UFC’s ranks.

Rob might believe the fight will be contested on the feet, but I expect Fili to look for the takedown He trains with Team Alpha Male, which is full of some of the best wrestlers in the lighter weight classes. They saw the success Connor McGregor had in taking Holloway down, and they’ll look to duplicate that feat. If McGregor can do it with a torn ACL, Fili can use what Team Alpha Male can teach him to take rounds on the scorecards.

I’ll be very interested to see how Fili looks with a full training camp and against a very good fighter in Holloway. The fight will come down to a split decision, but Fili will do just enough to take the nod.

LW: Yancy Medeiros (9-1) vs. Jim Miller (23-4)

Tatum: This fight is one of those harsh realities of the fight business. Jim Miller was supposed to face Bobby Green in a fight with significant implications of the lightweight division’s top-10 rankings. Meanwhile, the Hawaiian Medeiros was slated to welcome Joe Ellenberger to the Octagon on the night’s undercard. But, after an injury to Green just a week before the event, Medeiros moves to the pay-per-view card to test his worth against the veteran Miller.

On paper, this fight is a significant mismatch. Miller is unquestionably one of the most durable and hard-nosed fighters in the sport. He’s never been stopped on the feet, and only Nate Diaz was able to finish him on the mat. In December, Miller submitted Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu black belt Fabricio Camoes via armbar to remind everyone of his ground prowess.

Medeiros, a Strikeforce veteran, has fast hands and plenty of power. In his lone defeat, he was outwrestled by Rustam Khabilov. That’s not a good sign against someone with the ground game and granite chin of Miller.

Fight fans got cheated out of a very intriguing fight between Green and Miller, but that’s just something that happens in this sport. Look for the Hawaiian to come out swinging for the fences, but Miller’s experience will be the difference as he takes this fight to the ground and coerces a tap via armbar in the first round.

Symes: Tough break for everyone involved. Switching opponents is never ideal, let alone with only a few days remaining before the actual event. This should be a clear-cut fight to call, with Miller finding his hand raised. Miller is one of the toughest gatekeepers in the UFC and I don’t see anything from Medeiros that would suggest he’s ready for this step up in competition.

Medeiros is a big lightweight—he formerly competed at welterweight—so perhaps he won’t be pushed around as easily by Miller’s in-your-face style. Still, look for Miller to use his ground game and secure the submission victory.

Gardner: Medeiros is taking a major step up in competition going from a bout with Ellenberger to a short notice call-up against Miller. Sure, Medeiros was already in fight camp preparing, but switching opponents is always a tough hill to climb, let alone when you are expected to face a top-10 mainstay.

This isn’t good for Miller either, because now he is facing a fighter with nothing to lose and everything to gain. Taking Miller on short notice will likely buy Medeiros another bout in the Octagon even if he loses. Miller, on the other hand, can’t just win, as he will now be expected to do so in impressive fashion.

It is obvious that the UFC thinks highly enough of Medeiros, but the promotion must not like him if it’s putting him against Miller, a beast and one of the best finishers in the UFC lightweight division. Miller will dictate the pace from the get-go and force the action to the mat. Once there, it will just be a matter of time before he sets something up. I agree with Rob—Miller wins this one via first-round armbar.

MW: Tim Boetsch (17-6) vs. Luke Rockhold (11-2)

Symes: Tim Boetsch and Luke Rockhold will look to make it back-to-back wins at the other’s expense at UFC 172. Boetsch is coming off a controversial split decision victory against C.B. Dollaway at UFC 166. Prior to that win, it looked as if Boetsch’s UFC career was spiraling out of control after two straight losses in the Octagon.

Rockhold, meanwhile, failed to pick up a win in his UFC debut, where he fell victim to Vitor Belfort’s spinning back kick. However, Rockhold validated his status as a top middleweight by dropping Costas Philippou with a nasty body kick in their clash in January.

Boetsch has always been an incredibly strong fighter (just look at his fight with David Heath) who has knockout power in his hands. Although a strong and durable fighter, he’s not the most athletically gifted man on the UFC’s roster. That’s something that will hurt him at UFC 172.

Rockhold is one of the more athletic middleweights in the UFC at the moment. We will see a full display of kicks unleashed by the former Strikeforce middleweight champ. By using his kicks to keep Boetsch at bay, he won’t have to worry about Boetsch’s strength becoming a factor.

Ever since becoming a top contender in the middleweight division, Boetsch has seen all of his victories tainted with some form of controversy. His comeback win against Yushin Okami was incredible to watch, but let’s not forget the first two rounds, which Boetsch unquestionably lost. Then, against Hector Lombard, Boetsch was able to take a decision win without showcasing a lot of effectiveness on offense. Lombard was even suffering from a torn pec muscle in the contest. Boetsch also should’ve lost that fight to Dollaway.

Boetsch hasn’t showcased many qualities that a top middleweight contender tends to possess. Meanwhile, Rockhold has had at least flashes of brilliance. Rockhold by decision.

Gardner: Boetsch may not scream elite in the eyes of my colleague, but he is a scary match-up for anyone in the UFC middleweight division. Boetsch is a powerful wrestler with a big frame and bricks for hands.

Rockhold, on the other hand, has the Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu chops to be elite. He is continuing to show off an ever-improving striking game, too. Training at American Kickboxing Academy and being pushed to the limit by great fighters on a day-in, day-out basis only drives home the belief that Rockhold will continue to get better and better.

Unless Boetsch just comes out and is able to ragdoll Rockhold physically, this one is not going to be close. Rockhold is the more refined striker, and he is great on the mat. I’m not sure Rockhold has the power to take Boetsch out, but he does have all the tools to grind out a decisive unanimous decision victory over the “Barbarian.”

Tatum: It would be hard to argue with what either of my fellow panelists have said about this contest.

Boetsch is certainly not the most dynamic fighter in the 185-pound division, but he’s shown the ability to grind out wins when least expected. Although Rockhold is the more athletically gifted fighter, RJ’s point about this being a scary match-up is valid. If Rockhold isn’t on his game and allows Boetsch to initiate the clinch, he could be in for a very long 15 minutes.

The problem for Boetsch is that he doesn’t bring anything that Rockhold hasn’t seen in the cage. Rockhold battered Tim Kennedy, a fighter with a similar skill set to Boetsch, during their five-round title affair in Strikeforce. It’s hard to imagine this fight being much different. Rockhold uses his kicks to keep Boetsch at range and claim a lopsided decision win.

LHW: Phil Davis (12-1) vs. Anthony Johnson (16-4)

Tatum: It’s been six fights and more than two years since Anthony “Rumble” Johnson last set foot inside the Octagon. That appearance—a submission loss to Vitor Belfort—marked the third time in Johnson’s UFC career that he had missed weight for the promotion. His fate was likely sealed before the cage door even shut that night in Brazil, but the 30-year-old has bounced back in a big way since moving up to the light heavyweight division. During his current six-fight winning streak, he’s beaten UFC veterans David Branch, Jake Rosholt, Andrei Arlovski and, most recently, Mike Kyle. All of that earned Rumble a return trip to the promotion, but the question is, can he capitalize?

Johnson is a solid wrestler with dynamite in his fists. Eleven of his 16 career wins have come via knockout. Anyone who stands in front of him is going to sleep. But, as he prepares to face off with former NCAA national champion Phil Davis in the co-main event, it will be his grappling that will be put to the test. Three of Johnson’s four losses have come via submission, and each time, he looked very out of sorts on his back.

This fight marks a chance for Davis to remind everyone in the 205-pound division that he’s still a threat for the belt. Whereas Johnson’s strength lies in his striking, Davis finds his strength in his wrestling. His lone loss came at the hands of Johnson’s teammate, former champion Rashad Evans. But Davis has already bested former champion Lyoto Machida and submitted recent title challenger Alexander Gustafsson.

There’s a lot at stake in this fight. Current champion (and headliner) Jon Jones has dominated nearly every fighter he’s faced and new challengers at 205 pounds are in short order. A win by Davis or Johnson could easily put them in the title mix, but it will come down to whose strength exploits whose weakness. Johnson hasn’t missed a beat since moving up in weight, but I’m not convinced he has shored up the holes in his grappling game. Davis’s striking has developed enough to fend off Johnson’s powerful arsenal long enough to bring this fight to the ground. Once there, Davis will lock up a fight-finishing D’arce in the second stanza.

Gardner: When you look at Johnson, it is hard to believe he is a light heavyweight. With his massive frame, it’s amazing that he was ever even able to make 170 pounds. In a lot of ways, Johnson hurt himself by fighting at such a low weight. He could never really focus on strength training, and cutting that much weight always had a negative impact on his cardio.

Although Johnson is a talented wrestler in his own right, Davis is simply on another level. Davis was a four-time NCAA All-American and a national champion in his senior year. He isn’t the most dynamic striker in the world, but he can hold his own on the feet long enough to drag his opponents to the mat. Once on the mat, Davis is a wizard with elite ground control and a slick submission game from the top.

There is no denying that Johnson is an explosive striker and he has looked great since making the move to 205, but Davis is a bad match-up for him. Johnson will get the better of the striking game, but Davis will close the distance and take Johnson to the mat with little trouble. Once there, it is only a matter of time until Davis finds an opening and exploits its. Davis wins this via first-round submission.

Symes: Davis has been on the shelf for quite some time. It’s never a good idea for a fighter to be inactive for that long, but in this case it may have helped Davis’s career. He’s been able to develop some charisma, which is a necessity in earning title shots in the UFC. And he’s also no doubt developed his skills even more. When you’re not busy training for a specific fighter, it allows you to work on improving yourself as a whole.

We will see those improvements, which Davis will definitely need against Johnson. But, as usual, the big question for Johnson will be where his motivation level stands coming into this fight. He’s been able to get his weight under control while outside the UFC, so hopefully he doesn’t let up in that department now that he has another UFC contract.

If Johnson comes into this fight as focused as he was while outside the Octagon, Davis could be in for a long night. Johnson is strong enough to fend off the takedowns of Davis while having a competent wrestling background to negate his techniques as well. He’s also one of the most dangerous strikers in all of MMA. As I’m sure Joe Rogan will allude to multiple times throughout the UFC broadcast, Rumble has legit one-punch knockout power.

The only time we’ve seen Davis lose is against Rashad Evans when it was clear Davis had the “deer in the headlight” look. He didn’t have that when facing Machida, which leads me to believe Davis now knows he belongs among the light heavyweight elite.

This will look a lot like Johnson’s fight with Josh Koscheck at UFC 106. Davis will be able to get the takedown, and he has a good enough grappling game to get a submission finish.

LHW Championship: Jon Jones (19-1) vs. Glover Teixeira (22-2)

Gardner: In the main event, UFC light heavyweight champion Jon Jones looks to take out devastating knockout artist Glover Teixeira. Jones comes into this fight as the reigning champion and UFC record holder for most consecutive light heavyweight wins, and Teixeira comes in with an amazing 20-fight winning streak and has not tasted defeat since March of 2005.

Teixeira is known for his massive power, but he is also a very skilled grappler who holds a BJJ black belt and has tremendous takedown defense. If Teixeira can find a way to close the distance, he can do some real damage to the champ With his power, it only takes one to end the night.

Closing the distance is much easier said than done against a fighter like Jones, who will have a ridiculous 8.5-inch reach advantage in this fight. Jones doesn’t just have a long reach either, he utilizes it by incorporating kicks and a long jab into his offense. When fighters are able to close the distance, Jones has shown elite wrestling ability and an absolute mastery of leverage.

No matter how this fight plays out, it doesn’t end with Teixeira bringing home the belt. Jones will be able to maintain the distance effectively. When Teixeira does get on the inside, Jones will quickly look to clinch and take the fight to the mat. Teixeira is game so Jones will have to work for it, but he will get the finish.

Jones wins this one via ground-and-pound stoppage in the third round.

Symes: “If ___ can close the distance, he can do damage to Jones” is a narrative we’ve been sold on so many times before. And outside of Alexander Gustafsson, when has it ever played out? Jones, with Greg Jackson and Mike Winkeljohn in his corner, is among the best fighters in MMA at being able to utilize distance. Jones’ game has been critiqued so many times to where his technical flaws are apparent, but his physical gifts and the level of coaching he receives overrides those flaws.

I was never on-board the “title shot for Teixeira” hype train because he hasn’t faced a lot of upper-echelon fighters. That doesn’t mean I don’t acknowledge his skills. He has grappling skills, which were obvious in his performances against Quinton “Rampage” Jackson and James Te Huna. He also has the much harped knockout power as well. However, one of his best traits is his ability to seize the opportunity for a finish. It’s very easy to fight to win rather than fight to a finish once you reach the level that Teixeira is at now. Instead, if the opportunity is there, Teixeira pounces on it.

Unfortunately for the Brazilian, I don’t believe he’ll find the opportunity in this one. Jones will use his kicks and straight punches to keep Teixeira at bay. Even if the Brazilian manages to get close, Jones is amazing at utilizing leverage for takedowns. Expect to see Teixeira put on the ground if the fight gets to a range where Jones doesn’t want it.

Teixeira’s trainer, John Hackleman, recently said, basically, that “he gets hit, so what?” to questions of Teixeira’s striking defense. That’s not going to cut it when fighting a guy many believe to be the best light heavyweight in MMA history. You have to be damn near perfect to take the title away from Jones, and Teixeira isn’t that guy.

The champ takes this one by unanimous decision.

Tatum: The horse is dead already, stop beating it. Jones will have a reach advantage over everyone in the UFC not named Stefan Struve. That won’t change here. Certainly if Teixeira gets inside, it could give him a chance to touch Jones’ chin, but I agree with RJ and Kyle: it’s not likely in this fight.

While I disagree with Kyle’s dismissal of Teixeira’s worthiness of a title shot, it doesn’t mean that he’s the fighter to take the belt away from Jones. The Brazilian has flat out destroyed anyone and everyone put in front of him through the last few years, though, and he is absolutely deserving of this fight. However, while his power-punching style is a threat to most opponents, his propensity for getting hit, coupled with Jones’ reach, is just a recipe for disaster.

Unlike Jones’ fight with Gustafsson, where the Swede’s technical skills on the feet frustrated the champion, Teixeira will want to brawl. Jones isn’t going to let that happen. If Teixeira gets in close, Jones is going to use an outside trip and plant him on his back. Once on top, Jones is going to do a lot of damage. I’ll echo RJ’s prediction of a third-round TKO via vicious elbows from the top.

Preliminary Card
BW: Chris Beal (8-0) vs. Patrick Williams (7-3)

Symes: This fight between Chris Beal and Patrick Williams could feature some exciting moments on the feet if Williams, who attended Arizona State University, neglects his NCAA Division I wrestling background. Beal’s strength is boxing, whereas Williams mixes it up a little better. Although Beal will be the favorite, he has had a tough time finishing regional levels of competition. Therefore, Williams wins by TKO.

Tatum: It’s hard to argue with Kyle’s assessment of this fight. Both fighters have largely feasted on lesser competition during their careers and fallen short when it mattered most. Although Beal’s record shows no defeats, he did lose on The Ultimate Fighter 18. The one fight that stands out the most is Williams’ recent stoppage of WEC and Bellator vet Rafael Dias. Coupled with his wrestling background, that’s reason enough to look for him to hand Beal his first official defeat via decision.

Gardner: Beal may be undefeated, but he does not look like a world-beater by any means. He has a strong boxing game, but really doesn’t bring much else to the table. Williams, on the other hand, has a good wrestling pedigree and is more diverse in the striking game. I have to agree with Kyle and Rob. Williams wins this one via unanimous decision.

LW: Charlie Brenneman (19-6) vs. Danny Castillo (16-6)

Gardner: Charlie Brenneman and Danny Castillo are mirror images of each other. Both are relentless grapplers who are more likely to grind out wins than they are to finish fights. Castillo is the better wrestler, and he trains against better competition. That gives him the edge in what will likely be the snoozefest of the night. Castillo wins this one via unanimous decision.

Tatum: I’m going to disagree with RJ’s assessment that Castillo and Brenneman are mirror images of each other. Castillo is a more powerful striker, whereas Brenneman is the more accomplished submission fighter. Given Brenneman’s willingness to engage in brawls on the feet, the edge has to tip toward Castillo’s favor. The Team Alpha Male product won’t let this one get to the scorecards, ending Brenneman’s night with a violent, first-round TKO.

Symes: Castillo was very close to defeating the highly touted Edson Barboza in his last outing. Yes, he had issues after the first round, but the fact that he was able to put that level of fighter in danger lends credibility to his chances to win this contest. Brenneman has always struggled against quality opposition, and although I’m not classifying Castillo among the lightweight elite, he is a quality opponent. Castillo by decision.

LW: Joe Ellenberger (14-1) vs. Vagner Rocha (11-3)

Tatum: It took Omaha’s Joe Ellenberger a little longer than his brother, Jake, to earn a call from the UFC, but he’ll quickly look to make an impact in the lightweight division against Brazilian fighter Vagner Rocha. Like his brother, Joe possesses heavy hands and a strong wrestling base. He’ll need to be careful how he uses his wrestling against the much more accomplished submission fighter. The 31-year-old Rocha makes his return to the promotion on short notice after Bobby Green was injured and Ellenberger’s original opponent, Yancy Medeiros, moved to the main card. The Brazilian has put together four straight wins since he was released by the promotion. If Ellenberger can use his wrestling to keep this fight upright, he’ll batter Rocha with his hands and score a second-round TKO.

Symes: It’s great that Rocha got a call back up to the big leagues, but perhaps not so good is that he’s facing Joe Ellenberger. Jake’s younger brother has the skills to match up well with the Brazilian. Ellenberger’s wrestling should be enough to prevent the fight from going to the mat, and his knockout power will secure him a victory in his UFC debut.

Gardner: Rocha is very deserving of the call from the UFC to take this bout on short notice. Since his release, he has gone 4-0 with three wins coming by submission. Ellenberger will have to keep this one on the feet if he wants to walk away with the victory, because Rocha is very dangerous on the ground. Ellenberger, the much better wrestler, should be able to avoid the mat and throw a beating on Rocha. Ellenberger wins this one via second-round TKO.

Women’s BW: Jessamyn Duke (3-0) vs. Bethe Correia (7-0)

Symes: As with nearly any fight involving Jessamyn Duke, she’ll enjoy a sizable reach/height advantage over her opponent. Bethe Correia has impressed mightily considering her Octagon debut came against Julie Kedzie, one of the most battle-tested veterans in women’s MMA. This might get a bit sloppy, which would lead to a scenario where Correia will able to negate Duke’s length. Correia by decision.

Gardner: Correia is coming into this fight undefeated. She picked up a huge win over Kedzie, but Duke’s height and reach is unreal for a women’s bantamweight. Given her length and her striking ability, Duke should be able to outwork Correia and get the decision. Duke wins this one with a unanimous verdict.

Tatum: I hate to be dismissive of Correia’s win over Kedzie, but I was one of many who felt Kedzie was robbed by the judges. As my colleagues pointed out, there will be massive size discrepancy in this fight. The Brazilian Correia would be better suited for flyweight. However, she’s an aggressive striker that likes to push the action, which could force Duke into some bad spots. Duke has moved to California since her time on The Ultimate Fighter and now trains daily with women’s bantamweight champion Ronda Rousey and veteran Shayna Baszler. That experience will pay off as she capitalizes on Correia’s aggression and secures a second-round triangle choke finish.

LW: Takanori Gomi (34-9) vs. Isaac Vallie-Flagg (14-4-1)

Tatum: This fight could easily be a sleeper candidate for “Fight of the Night.” It’s been over a year since “The Fireball Kid” Takanori Gomi was robbed on the scorecards against Isaac Vallie-Flagg’s teammate, Diego Sanchez. There have to be concerns that the layoff will affect the Japanese fighter’s performance, but the former Pride champion has plenty of experience to handle it. The problem for Gomi in this fight is the stylistic match-up with Vallie-Flagg. The Jackson’s MMA product is a pressure fighter with a strong chin. Although his lengthy 12-fight unbeaten streak was snapped earlier this year, Vallie-Flagg has the skill set to frustrate Gomi on the feet. Gomi is a legend of the sport, but Vallie-Flagg steals this fight on the scorecards.

Gardner: I have to disagree with Rob on this fight being a sleeper for “Fight of the Night.” Vallie-Flagg’s style is not overly exciting and he has never beaten a fighter of note. Cage rust may be an issue early on for Gomi, but that will not last long. Once Gomi gets his range and timing, he will batter Vallie-Flagg. Gomi wins this one via unanimous decision.

Symes: Although I wouldn’t imagine this being “Fight of the Night,” it does have some qualities that could make it very exciting. Vallie-Flagg is a pressure fighter and we’ve all seen what happens when a guy tries to press “The Fireball Kid.” Still, Gomi will revert back to his old swing-from-the-hips style, which will allow Vallie-Flagg to either counter or take the Japanese fighter down. Vallie-Flagg takes the decision victory.

FlyW: Joseph Benavidez (19-4) vs. Tim Elliott (10-4-1)

Gardner: Joseph Benavidez got blasted in his last outing for the UFC flyweight title against Demetrious Johnson, but he should rebound nicely with a win against Tim Elliott. Benavidez will have his hands full with an always game Elliott, but Benavidez is head and shoulders the better fighter. Benavidez gets the win via second-round TKO.

Symes: Hopefully, Elliott doesn’t come out with the same game plan he had against Ali Bagautinov. That was just difficult to watch. This fight comes down to who will be more motivated to stay relevant in the flyweight division. Although he was knocked out for the first time in his career, Benavidez will come back strong in this fight. He’s simply better than Elliott in every facet of the game. “Joe-jitsu” by decision.

Tatum: Although Elliott will have the height and reach advantage against Benavidez, his awkward striking style does not lend itself well to keeping this fight at range. That immediately shifts things heavily toward the favor of Benavidez, as both of my colleagues alluded to above. Elliott has a strong chin, which he proved in going the distance against Bagautinov and the hard-hitting John Dodson. He’ll survive to see the scorecards, but it will be the more talented Benavidez whose hand is raised in the end.

About The Author

Kyle Symes
Staff Writer

Kyle is a recent graduate of Aurora University, where he obtained a Bachelor's in Communications. Kyle resides in Illinois, just outside of Chicago. He played baseball and football in both high school and college, but is now focusing on an amateur MMA career.