UFC 172: 5 Key Takeaways from Baltimore

Nathan McCarter@McCarterNFeatured ColumnistApril 28, 2014

UFC 172: 5 Key Takeaways from Baltimore

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    The UFC hit Charm City on Saturday for its latest pay-per-view card. The main event featured the top pound-for-pound fighter in the organization, Jon Jones, defend his UFC light heavyweight strap against Glover Teixeira.

    It was another fantastic performance from the young champion. He spent 25 minutes controlling the action and battering the face of his challenger.

    The night featured nine other bouts that thrilled us from start to finish. The start of the event gave us two highlight-reel knockouts from Chris Beal and Danny Castillo, and the finishes continued with four submissions.

    UFC 172 gave us plenty to think about and discuss.

    Here are five takeaways from the UFC's latest event.

Team Alpha Male Love to Finish

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    Urijah Faber's camp in California, Team Alpha Male, features some of the best lighter weight fighters on the planet. And they love to finish.

    Two of the three fighters from the camp won their bouts at UFC 172, and they did so in picturesque fashion.

    Danny Castillo flattened Charlie Brenneman with a stunning KO. It continued to highlight the striking development of the Team Alpha Male fighters since the arrival of Duane Ludwig. The overhand right shut off Brenneman's lights immediately.

    Top-ranked flyweight contender Joseph Benavidez was the author of the most comical submission of the night. After a fast start from Tim Elliot, Benavidez locked in a guillotine choke so tight that his opponent had to tap out by stamping his feet on the mat.

    Team Alpha Male used to have the reputation of smothering wrestlers, but now they have a reputation for being violent finishers.

Level of Competition Means Something

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    Andre Fili entered UFC 172 as a slight favorite over Max Holloway, but Holloway would come away with the victory with a third-round guillotine finish.

    Holloway is the perfect example of why level of competition matters.

    The Hawaiian made his organizational debut in 2012 against Dustin Poirier. Since his debut he has also fought talent such as Justin Lawrence, Leonard Garcia, Dennis Bermudez and Conor McGregor.

    He has had a mixed bag of success, but the fights have helped him hone his skills. He is also not bothered by the hype of any of his opponents. That showed against Fili.

    Fili may be a quality young prospect, but he was not going to run through the gritty Hawaiian. Holloway showed Fili what it takes to be successful inside the cage as he came on in the later rounds to take the fight. Holloway's skills have improved greatly during his UFC stint, and he is becoming one of the more consistent performers on the roster.

Luke Rockhold Is Dangerous

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    Luke Rockhold is one of the top contenders in the middleweight division and a former Strikeforce champion. However, after a KO loss to Vitor Belfort, his stock dropped a bit in the eyes of the UFC fans.

    He has erased that in just two fights to show why he may be Chris Weidman's biggest threat.

    Rockhold rebounded from the loss against Costas Philippou. He finished in 2:31 with kicks to the body. That was a highly impressive performance against a highly touted technical striker such as Philippou.

    At UFC 172, Rockhold showed off his incredible ground game against a solid grappler in Tim Boetsch.

    Rockhold's performances have been quick and impressive. He has shown off that he is one of the more well-rounded fighters in the division. He called out Belfort in the post-fight interview, and that would be a rematch many fans would love to see.

Anthony Johnson Returns as a Contender

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    Anthony Johnson is a former welterweight, but his struggles with weight forced him out of the UFC. He returned to the regional scene to work his way back to the UFC.

    At UFC 172, he got the call to return, and he was positioned on the card to make a statement. And that he most certainly did.

    Johnson dominated his fight against Davis, the No. 4-ranked light heavyweight.

    The fashion in which Johnson won makes him an instant contender in the 205-pound division. He is an explosive striker with devastating power, and he has a solid wrestling background that allows him to dictate where the fight will go.

    "Rumble" is not too far off from a title shot, and he is the type of fighter the UFC will want to place in high-profile bouts. He is definitely worthy of keeping an eye on as 2014 moves forward.

It Will Take Something Special to Defeat Jones

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    Glover Teixeira is a fine fighter. He has good power in his hands, a solid wrestling foundation and good jiu-jitsu. He just is not a threat to Jon Jones.

    Aside from Alexander Gustafsson, no one has been a threat to Jones. That is why he is the top-ranked pound-for-pound fighter in the UFC. He beats his opponents in a way that makes it look very easy.

    Gustafsson was able to match Jones' physical attributes and mark him up. He even got a takedown. Fighters such as Teixeira have not been able to do that. They are good fighters but not good enough to realistically threaten the champion.

    Their games are easily thwarted by the champion. He sees what they are going to do before they do it.

    That is why a rematch with Gustafsson has to take place, and why many fans are excited about the prospect of Daniel Cormier's title bid. It will take someone, and something, special to defeat Jones. The possibilities are there, and that makes light heavyweight an exciting division to watch.