This Wednesday (Sept. 4, 2013), Light Heavyweight contenders Glover Teixeira and Ryan Bader will go to war in the main event of UFC Fight Night 28 from Mineirinho Arena in Belo Horizonte, Brazil, airing live of FOX Sports 1.
Since making his way to the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC), Teixeira has looked like a bulldozer, running through each of the four opponents he's faced with ease. He was last seen dismantling James Te Huna via submission at May's UFC 160. He also holds a win over former 205-pound champion Quinton Jackson.
To get to his coveted title shot, he'll have to get through Bader, who what could be his toughest test to date.
Bader, a former Arizona State University wrestling standout, needs this win to find a spot back in the Top 10. He last fought in January at UFC on Fox 6, submitting Vladimir Matyushenko with a first round guillotine. Prior to that, Bader was viciously knocked out by Lyoto Machida at UFC on Fox 4. His track record hasn't been the best recently, but a win over the highly touted Teixeira would have him right back in the thick of things.
Let's examine the keys to victory for Glover Teixeira vs. Ryan Bader:
Record: 21-2 overall, 4-0 UFC
Key Wins: Quinton Jackson (UFC on FOX 5), James Te Huna (UFC 160), Rameau Thierry Sokoudju (WEC 24)
Key Losses: None
Keys to Victory: Teixeira, a student of former UFC Light Heavyweight champion Chuck Liddell, remains undefeated in mixed martial arts (MMA) since 2006. On an incredible 19-fight win streak, Teixeira finished 17 of those victories. That's a brutally efficient percentage, and it shows how frequently and effectively Teixeira puts a stamp on his performances.
He's extremely well-rounded, possessing a Brazilian Jiu-jitsu black belt that he's used to obtain six submission victories. His wrestling is also top notch, evident by his repeated takedowns of famed slam artist "Rampage" Jackson. But striking may be his most devastating skillset, having put away 12 opponents via (T)KO.
Against Bader, Teixeira will look to exercise his advantage on the feet, most likely picking "Darth" apart with a varied offense of jabs, hooks, and uppercuts. If the fight does go to the ground, Teixeira won't be too disappointed. Bader tapped out to a Tito Ortiz guillotine, and Teixeira has a much more deadly submission arsenal than "Huntington Beach Bad Boy."
Look for Teixeira to also shoot for some takedowns of his own. Despite Bader's accomplished wrestling pedigree, Teixeira will be anxious to show his complete game and prove that no Light Heavyweight can outwrestle him.
He'll have the hometown crowd fired up and ready to root him on too, which could have a detrimental effect on Bader's mental state.
Record: 15-3 overall, 9-3 UFC
Key Wins: Antonio Rogerio Nogueira (UFC 119), Quinton Jackson (UFC 144), Vladimir Matyushenko (UFC on FOX 6)
Key Losses: Jon Jones (UFC 126), Tito Ortiz (UFC 132), Lyoto Machida (UFC on FOX 4)
Keys to Victory: Bader was an NCAA Division 1 All-American while wrestling at Arizona State, and he's translated that success into his MMA career. After starting winning The Ultimate Fighter (TUF) Season 8 and starting out 12-0, Bader has experienced some adversity in recent years.
He's lost three out of his last six bouts, albeit against top competition. This fight against Teixeira on Wednesday will be a perfect gauge of if he can hang with the top of the food chain.
To win, Bader will need to come in having added some much-needed technicality to his striking. While rushing in with wild overhand rights has earned him a few knockouts, he found out against Machida that this strategy simply doesn't work against the best fighters in the Octagon.
And he'll find out it won't work against Teixeira either.
Bader will need to pick his shots with precision, and wait for an opportunity to present itself. Although it won't be easy, Bader should also look to his base of wrestling and score some takedowns. If he can, it will be crucial in the eyes of the judges. Should he drag Teixeira down, he'll need to be on the lookout for submissions attempts. Leaving his neck exposed could mean a short and painful night for "Darth."
A knockout loss would be devastating to Bader's bid to regain footing inside the Light Heavyweight Top-10, but on the flip side, a win would be a huge boost. If Bader can get some takedowns and score some with ground and pound, a monumental upset could be coming his way. He'll have to fight for it, as Teixeira has only been finished once, and that was in his first fight.
Bottom Line From Belo Horizonte: The bottom line for UFC Fight Night 28's main event is that this is going to be the true test of Teixeira's readiness to ascend into the elite of the UFC Light Heavyweight division. Bader is the best opponent he's faced in the Octagon thus far, so if he can finish him, Teixeira will be primed to face off against the winner of Jones vs. Gustafsson.
Teixeira's game is so well rounded, so evolving, that's it tough to see how Bader derails his hype. Bader is definitely a talented fighter, but he'll need this win to prove he's more than just a divisional gatekeeper. Bader does have the wrestling and power to make this contest a lot closer than it seems on paper.
The pressure will be on both men thanks to the Brazilian crowd. They'll be rooting for Teixeira in a big way, and that seems like something that could help him immensely. He's calm and calculated, and that will play into his favor. Bader, on the other hand, will have to avoid letting the Brazilians shake his psyche to pull out the win.
Can Ryan Bader score the huge upset or will Glover Teixeira deliver for his Brazilian fans? Tell us your picks below!