No. 3-ranked Light Heavyweight, Glover Teixeira, is set to take on The Ultimate Fighter (TUF) 8 winner, Ryan Bader, at UFC Fight Night 28, which takes place this Wednesday (Sept. 4, 2013) at Mineirinho Arena in Belo Horizonte, Brazil.
After acquiring a dominant 17-2 record on the regional mixed martial arts (MMA) circuit, Teixeira finally made his Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) debut against Kyle Kingsbury. Like his opponent, he finished "Kingsbu" by an arm triangle, but there was a touch more violence in Teixeira's approach, as he brutalized the American Kickboxing Academy-trained product before the finish.
Teixeira followed this victory with short notice mauling of Fabio Maldonado. Then, Teixeira got the high profile match he had been looking for against Quinton Jackson. Teixeira and Jackson traded blows for three rounds, with "Hands of Stone" going home the clear victor.
Teixeira next made quick work of another tough competitor, choking out James Te Huna in about three minutes. Teixeira looks once again prove the hype is real against Bader, who may be the toughest wrestler Teixeira has ever fought.
Does he have the MMA skills to pass this latest test?
Let's take a closer look:
Teixeira is a bruiser on the feet, who walks his opponent down and club them until the ref pulls him away. He may not be the fastest striker, but with 12 knockout finishes, there's no doubt that Teixeira has huge power.
The Brazilian has never been much of a jabber, although he did land a few on "Rampage." Instead, he likes to stand in the pocket and throw dynamite left hooks. Teixeira often catches his opponent with the left hook just after he slips away from Teixeira's right hand.
Teixeira loves to attack with his right hand, primarily the right hook. As his opponent jabs, Teixeira will slip and come over the jab with a powerful right hook. Teixeira loves to throw right-left-right combinations, alternating between hooks. When his opponent is pinned up against the fence, Teixeira will extend this combinations, not letting up until his opponent hits the mat.
In addition to his right hook, Teixeira loves to mix uppercuts into his attack. Since circling can be difficult against Teixeira's barrage of hooks, some fighters choose to duck down to evade punches. If they do, Teixeira will come right up with middle with a cracking uppercut. Teixeira only throws this punch from close range, where the chances of it being countered are low.
Teixeira also does a pretty good job attacking his opponent's body. He likes to throw a right straight or left hook to the body, and occasionally mixes in a jab to the stomach. Teixiera's body work really helped him slow down "Rampage," who's high guard can leave is body open to attacks.
While he's primarily a boxer, Teixeira does have some decent kicks. When he does kick, it's often at the end of his combination, either to the leg or head. Additionally, if his opponent is circling away too far for him to punch, Teixeira will throw a kick.
Teixeira does a good job slipping punches when he throws his right hook. However, he has a bad habit of standing still and covering up when he doesn't try to counter. This makes him quite hittable, but it is risky for his opponent to try and capitalize on this, because he can always slip and rip with a dangerous punch.
While it has yet to be really tested, Teixeira's wrestling game has looked outstanding so far in the UFC. Teixeira makes the most of his physical strength, often overpowering his opposition with his takedown attempts.
Teixeira almost exclusively shoots for single leg takedowns. His hides his initial shot pretty well, and it is fairly quick, two important factors for success. Once he gets in on the leg, Teixeira often finishes by riding the pipe, dumping his opponent to the mat and landing in half guard. If this doesn't work, Teixeira will turn the corner and transition to a double leg, then blast through his opponent.
The best part of Teixeira's game may be his ground and pound. Teixeira rarely sits in full guard landing small shots, instead he passes to at least half guard before getting aggressive. From there, Teixeira will posture up and drop big elbows.
Teixeira is even more devastating from mount. He keeps his hips very tight to his opponent, which makes it very difficult for them to escape while allowing him to keep good posture. He likes to get a high mount, which makes elbow escaping more difficult. Maldanado was eventually stopped due to accumulation of damage in his fight with Teixeira, and much of it was from Teixeria's elbows and punches from mount.
It's clear from the few takedowns his opponents have attempted that Teixeira has powerful hips. Kingsbury and Jackson were both stopped immediately when they hit Teixeira's hips, they just couldn't drive him. While this is a great sign, it doesn't mean a lot, seeing as Kingsbury was almost as hurt as Jackson was tired. Like I mentioned above, Bader is Teixeira's first real wrestling challenge in his UFC career.
Teixeira is a second degree black belt in Brazilian jiu-jitsu. This alone is impressive, but there are rumors that Teixeira's ground game is even better than his striking, which would make it quite formidable.
All of Teixeira's submission victories are some form of choke. He has a couple of rear naked chokes, which is fitting considering how strong his control from mount and back mount is. When a fighter is as good at controlling position as Teixeira is, it's just a matter of time until the rear naked choke.
Additionally, Teixeira's head and arm choke was only possible due to his mount control. The same hip pressure that allows him to land hard shots also opens up submissions. Kingsbury was freaking out, desperately trying to escape, and buck from underneath Teixeira's mount. Normally, a man as strong as Kingsbury is able to create some space with a hip bump, but Teixeira was to strong. This surprising lack of movement left Kingsbury's arm in a vulnerable position, which Teixeira attack with the arm triangle. Teixeira attempted the same thing multiple times on Maldanado, but he was able to endure.
Additionally, Teixeira has a tight guillotine choke. He prefers the arm-in variation and finishes it correctly, leaning up into the choke rather than leaning back. Another important factor was that Teixeira managed to trap one of Te Huna's arms between his legs, limiting his defensive options. Judging by how quickly Te Huna tapped, Teixeira can squeeze very hard.
Teixeira is very good at capitalizing on his opponent's mistakes. Te Huna used an underhook to successfully get back to his feet and was momentarily in a position where he could yank his head out of Teixeira's grip. For whatever reason, he hesitated, which allowed Teixeira to snap his back down. Teixeira then pulled guard and squeezed, finishing the Australian.
Best chance for success
Despite his jiu-jitsu credentials, Teixeira should do his best to stay on his feet. Bader's takedowns are at their best when he's the aggressor, so it only makes sense that Teixeira should be the one stalking him. Another benefit is that it will keep him off the cage, where Bader may be able to tire him out with extended clinching.
Teixeira cannot afford to get too wild with his punches. He normally does a good job staying balanced, which helps him defend takedowns, but if he slips when throwing a haymaker, he's making Bader's job easier. Staying calm and picking his power shots will be very important for "Hands of Stone."
Considering Bader's habit of getting caught by guillotines, Teixeira should be on the lookout for any chance to grab his neck. Bader has a habit of diving for takedowns when he's flustered or hurt, a flaw Teixeira only needs to capitalize on once.
To finish Bader, Teixeira needs to constantly pressure him. Bader folded against Jones and was badly frustrated by Machida, meaning his mental game may not be up to par. If Teixeira constantly pressures "Darth," there's a good chance he'll give up or panic.
The fight is basically over either way at that point.
Will Teixeira get a shot at Jon Jones' belt or will Bader show that his career as a contender isn't over just yet?