UFC 172, light heavies, more


Each week, ESPN.com MMA writer Brett Okamoto, ESPN Insider senior editor Mike Huang and a special guest panelist will tackle five questions that are buzzing in the world of mixed martial arts.

This week, top contender Glover Teixeira -- who battles for the UFC light heavyweight title Saturday -- joins the panel to provide his thoughts on UFC 172, the light heavyweight division and more.

1. Is Donald Cerrone primed for another run at a title shot?

Glover Teixeira: Yeah, definitely. That kid showed a lot of talent last week. He's the real deal with his Muay Thai and ground game. Very underrated. But he's ready for another run at a shot.

Brett Okamoto: Cerrone is pretty much always primed for a run at a title shot. He fights seemingly every week and he's no stranger to a highlight reel. Anyone who strings together finishes like Cerrone is a potential title contender in the UFC. His problem has been consistency. He's been known to punt a fight here and there. Cerrone should be on everybody's top-five list of most watchable fighters, but ultimately, I don't think he'll ever win a UFC title.

Mike Huang: I think he's on that run right now. His first-round rear-naked choke of Edson Barboza was a thing of beauty. In a fight between two brutal strikers, he goes for the submission. It appeared that Cerrone was headed down that bad gatekeeper path for a bit there, but he righted the ship and looks crisp and focused.

2. What are the odds upset king Fabricio Werdum topples Cain Velasquez?

Teixeira: That's a tough fight. Werdum showed very good stand-up skills. There, they are evenly matched. Cain is so much better at wrestling, but Werdum has the jiu-jitsu. So you look at the matchup, it's about 50-50 for Werdum to upset Velasquez. I'm very excited for this fight.

Okamoto: If I were to set a betting line on that fight, I'd make Velasquez a 5-to-1 favorite, which basically means I'd give Velasquez an 83.3 percent chance to win. So I guess I don't give Werdum great odds to topple Velasquez, but anything is possible.

Huang: I would say not good, but the last time Velasquez came off a big injury there was a lot of ring rust and he collared his only career loss. Werdum looked extremely good against Travis Brown. His stand-up was as good as it's ever been -- precise, efficient and clean. And he still had some in the tank by the fifth round. Ultimately, Velasquez's brutal, relentless style and seemingly unlimited gas tank should overwhelm Werdum. Odds? 70-30 Velasquez.

3. Who has the most to lose on Saturday at UFC 172?

Teixeira: Well, that question is kind of tricky. I think I have the most to lose, but the guy I most think will lose is Jones! But if you think about it, if I lost it would affect me more than if the other guys on the card lost. I haven't lost in such a long time and it took me a while to get here, so I'll be very disappointed if that happens.

Okamoto: Easily Jon Jones. It's a long fall from the top -- I believe that's how the saying goes. Jones is at the top, make no mistake. There are some who believe he lost his last fight to Alexander Gustafsson, but those people are wrong. Jones has the belt, which means he won that fight regardless of how any individual scored it. Few in the sport have more to lose on any given night than Jones.

Huang: Obviously Jon Jones, who has not only his UFC light heavyweight title at stake, but that aura of invincibility that surrounds him. It got dinged a bit against Gustafsson. So it'll be something to watch if he really was, as he contends, not fully prepared for Gustafsson and his performance was correspondingly haggard. That's short-selling Gustafsson for sure, but if Jones has trouble with Teixeira, is the division finally catching on to Jones?

4. Who is the greatest light heavyweight of all time?

Teixeira: Chuck Liddell because of his knockout power -- and he tried to finish every fight he was in. I loved his style. And I'm not saying that because he was my training partner. But even today he's still one of the most popular fighters in UFC history, so I can't be the only one who thinks he's the greatest of all time.

Okamoto: I asked former UFC light heavyweight champion Chuck Liddell this question last week and he, respectfully, does not believe it's Jones yet. I would agree. Jones is on his way to that distinction, but I tend to still give it to Liddell. If Jones beats Teixeira, Gustafsson in a rematch and an undefeated Daniel Cormier (assuming Cormier beats Dan Henderson), then Jones will undoubtedly be the best of all time.

Huang: As much as I would like to give it to Randy Couture, Chuck Liddell or Quinton Jackson, Jones has evolved the sport and consequently waylaid his division in more dominant fashion than the previously mentioned trio. It's a young sport and so the evolution of training, skills and strategy is very different from just eight years ago. Rampage was vastly different in style and even athletic ability when he knocked out Liddell at UFC 71 in 2007. Jones has transcended that generation of fighters.

5. What will the light heavyweight division landscape look like a year from now?

Teixeira: The division will be very exciting. So many great fighters in there -- you will see several of them on Saturday. If this is the future, and I'm champion, I will have a lot of work to defend that belt for the next year.

Okamoto: I don't see Jones losing. He beats Teixeira this weekend and then Gustafsson more decisively in a rematch later this year. There will still be some fights for Jones at 205 pounds at that point, so I don't think he'll be a heavyweight one year from now, but we'll be talking about it.

Huang: Though I like the thought of Gustafsson defeating Jones simply to add some drama to the division, it's very difficult to see Jones losing his grip on the belt. Lost in the melee of Gustafsson actually hurting Jones and going the distance is the fact that it was a unanimous decision. Gustafsson had nothing left at the end. Jones won the fight, but because it was the first time we'd ever seen him take punishment of any sort, it didn't amplify Gustafsson's performance -- rather, it amplified Jones' proximity to losing. Which in the end was not that close.