Two talented light heavyweights will put their skills to the text against each other this Saturday night (Oct. 13, 2012) as Glover Teixeira battles Fabio Maldonado on the UFC 153 main card in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
Teixeira was a fighter the UFC had its sights set on for a long time but random issues got in the way. He finally made his debut in the promotion earlier this year and made a huge statement by demolishing Kyle Kingsbury in the first round. He was expected to face "Rampage" Jackson on this card, but will have to settle for Maldonado.
Fabio Maldonado can always be counted on for a tough fight. The former boxer has some of the best body work in the UFC and while his UFC record doesn't show it, he's still an extremely talented and dangerous opponent. He'll be looking to put up a much better fight this weekend than casual fans are likely expecting of him.
Record: 18-2 overall, 1-0 in the UFC
Key Wins: Kyle Kingsbury (UFC 146)
Key Losses: none
How he got here: Glover Teixeira didn't get off to the best start in his MMA career, going 2-2 in his first four fights, but he's sure as hell stepped up his game since then.
Teixeira had a strong 3-0 run in the WEC which included a knockout of Sokoudjou, but visa issues prevented his return to compete in the United States for a considerable length of time. Instead, the powerful light heavyweight battled in Brazil and even in Australia, racking up win after win and finishing all but one of his opponents.
He made his UFC debut earlier this year against Kyle Kingsbury, rocking "Kingsbu" with a nasty uppercut and finishing him with an arm triangle choke on the canvas.
How he gets it done: Teixeira is incredibly dangerous with not only his pure punching power (which rivals anyone in the UFC light heavyweight division) but he's also got head kicks, knees and a surprisingly potent ground game.
While he may not have the pure punching technique that Maldonado possesses with his boxing, Teixieira more than makes up for it with his aggression, power, speed and diversity.
Expect to see Teixeira immediately get in Maldonado's face and try to hurt him with strikes. Maldonado has a great chin, but it gets tested often because he doesn't utilize great movement and he prefers to take a shot to give one out. In Teixeira's case, he should try to pound Maldonado and not let him retaliate.
Teixeira has some seriously scary power and if he can actually hurt Maldonado, his finishing instincts are superb. Look for "The Pit"-trained fighter to pounce either with punishing ground and pound or with submissions if he rocks his opponent. He has a significant edge on the ground so it would be to his advantage if he takes the fight there at some point.
Record: 18-5 overall, 1-2 in the UFC
How he got here: Fabio Maldonado was an esteemed Brazilian boxer who made the transition to mixed martial arts (MMA). He lost two of his first four fights 10 years ago, took a three year break from MMA and came back with a fury in 2004, having won 16 of his 17 fights since then.
Maldonado stopped ex-UFC middleweight Maiquel Falcao via TKO twice during his run and he made a big splash in his UFC debut against James McSweeney. After eating a ton of punishment in the first round, the Brazilian landed a devastating body shot that took the fight out of the UK kickboxer. The Team Nogueira fighter showed no mercy, repeatedly coming back to the body with uppercuts and ground and pound after McSweeney dropped to eventually score a TKO victory early in the third round.
The Brazilian got a sturdy test against Kyle Kingsbury in his next fight and he would repeatedly be put in the muay thai clinch, but punched his way out of it although he found himself on the losing end of a decision. Maldonado again lost a razor thin decision in his last bout against Igor Pokrajac and he stepped up to take on the rising star Teixeira when Quinton Jackson backed out with an injury.
How he gets it done: Maldonado isn't the most complicated man. He's got some legitimately impressive boxing skills and an extremely durable chin. James McSweeney threw everything but the kitchen sink at him in the first round of their fight and he still came out in the second round like nothing had happened.
The Brazilian wants to keep this fight in the pocket and he wants to work his big power punches to the body and head of the rising prospect. In all honesty, as an all-around mixed martial artist, Maldonado is rather limited. He doesn't have great kicks, good defense or much of a ground game. He's primarily a boxer who's not afraid to take a shot to give one.
Maldonado's goal should be to sneak in some offense, particularly those blistering body shots, and then just survive. Teixeira is scare early on, but what's to say he'll be just as strong if he unloads everything he has in the first round and can't put Maldonado away? If Maldonado can hang round, perhaps he can take advantage of his opponent and surprise nearly everyone.
Fight X-Factor: The biggest X-Factor here has to be the complete change in opponent and mentality for Teixeira. He went from fighting a former UFC champion in Quinton Jackson to fighting a fighter with a 1-2 UFC record in Maldonado in a matter of days. That had to be heartbreaking for him because even an impressive victory likely won't move him too far up the ladder.
Despite his record, Maldonado is incredibly tough and could just as easily be 3-0 in the UFC. If Teixeira is taking him lightly, he could be in for a big surprise.
Bottom Line: Fabio Maldonado always has extremely entertaining fights and Glover Teixeira is going to come right at him and try to put him away. Whoever wins, both men are likely to get their licks in and this should be an extremely entertaining match-up. Both men love to throw bombs and this fight has extremely high potential for a bonus award, particularly "Fight of the Night." Expect a stand-up battle and expect fun.
Who will come out on top at UFC 153? Tell us your predictions in the comments below!