Andre Fili vs. Max Holloway
Somewhat curious match-making for Holloway, who is likely to continue improving at a dramatic rate over the next half-decade, but he is coming off a favorable pairing in Will Chope. I’m super impressed with Fili but he has never encountered an opponent of this caliber — both from a status standpoint and the phenom-ish wizardry Holloway’s shown on the feet. Usually, Holloway’s height/length would be a huge asset against a wrestling-minded opponent, but “Touchy” Fili is a gangly ass featherweight with good agility, which make for excellent compliments to his wrestling game. I see this as fairly even. Max Holloway by unanimous decision.
Yancy Medeiros vs. Jim Miller
What was supposed to be a really competitive bout for Miller has turned into yet another “relevancy fight.” If he doesn’t beat Medeiros, then fears that he may be getting worn out become much more distinct possibilities. Medeiros is big, strong, and dangerously powerful, but Miller is a vet who’s faced similar fighters and beaten better fighters. I expect him to get the sub, but I’ll be watching carefully to see how this fight plays out. Jim Miller by submission, round 1.
Tim Boetsch vs. Luke Rockhold
Boetsch’s run at 185 was fun, if not aided by a questionable decision and a miraculous KO, but he’s regressed big time. Rockhold is going to tool him from start to finish, and the only thing worth watching is whether Rockhold gets a stoppage or does enough to get a 10-8 here and there. Luke Rockhold by lopsided unanimous decision.
Phil Davis vs. Anthony Johnson
I’m a huge fan of both these guys. Don’t wanna see either of them lose. I see this as a huge test of Anthony ‘Rumble’ Johnson’s maturity and Fight IQ. If he fights tactically and chambers off quick and tight kickboxing combos while using a lot of movement to avoid counter takedowns, he has a great shot of out-pointing Davis on the feet. It’s almost impossible to simply pressure Davis with aggressive strikes and straight-line movement because he’ll change levels and put you on your back, which typically puts him a round ahead. I’d like to see Rumble lay back a little and make Phil come to/at him. I’m also guessing that Rumble’s quickness and speed could cause some problems — Phil’s kickboxing has improved dramatically but he seems a tad slow with his delivery. Phil Davis by submission or decision.
Jon Jones vs. Glover Teixeira
Here’s my thing with Jonny ‘Bones’ Jones: he’s so unusually creative and unorthodox on the feet that, pre-Gustafsson, I wondered aloud about what role he’d fall back on if he ever got in trouble. In other words, he’s so unpredictable and dynamic that it leaves a question mark on what his “bread and butter” is on the feet. And when he was tested by Gus … he mounted his comeback and eventually took over using a lead step-in elbow and a left high kick? Regardless, I’ve been most impressed with Glover’s ability to wrestle, which is an impressive and underappreciated piece in his finish-potent puzzle. However, Glover does not transition smoothly from striking to wrestling nor when attacking an opponent who doesn’t retreat straight backward. You can never close the door on a multifarious and offensively explosive juggernaut like Glover, but Jones’ foot speed, in addition to the range problems he presents, seals it for me. Jon Jones by decision.