Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) light heavyweights Glover Teixeira and Phil Davis look to rebuild momentum after disappointing losses this Saturday night (Oct. 25, 2014) at UFC 179 inside Ginásio do Maracanãzinho in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
After going unbeaten for nearly eight years across 20 fights, Teixeira's winning ways came to a halt at the hands of division kingpin Jon Jones. Still, Teixeira remains optimistic and wants to work his way back to a rematch.
He'll need to start with a win over "Mr. Wonderful."
Davis also saw a win streak broken. He managed to score three straight victories -- including a controversial decision over Lyoto Machida -- but was stopped in his tracks by Anthony Johnson's powerful sprawl and nasty kickboxing. Now 30 years old, Davis needs to start consistently defeating top fighters in order to eventually get to the title.
Let's take a look at the keys to victory for each man.
Key Wins: Ryan Bader (UFC 160), Quinton Jackson (UFC on FOX 6), James Te Huna (UFC 160)
Key Losses: Jon Jones (UFC 172)
Keys to Victory: Teixeira is quite the powerhouse. Not only does he hit hard -- as evidenced by his 13 knockout victories -- but the Brazilian often physically overpowers his opponent during wrestling exchanges.
In addition, he's a very skilled grappler. He doesn't force his submission holds, instead waiting for his opponent to leave his neck in a compromising position. Once Teixeira locks in a choke, his squeeze is vice-like.
Luckily for Teixeira, the game plan for defeating Davis has been laid out. His opponent struggles to transition between striking and takedowns. He struggles even further when his opponent damages him as he looks to close the distance.
Teixeira has an excellent game to combat his opponent's style. When Davis pressures forward with his awkward boxing, the Brazilian can look to counter with his beloved cross counter. So long as he remains vigilant, there's little chance of Davis blasting Teixeira off his feet unless he times the shot perfectly.
Once his wrestling fails, Davis is forced to rely on his kickboxing. It's not very powerful, but Davis will use it to score points, and his lengthy frame allows him to land kicks without much fear of the counter.
If Teixeira is not careful, Davis could make the fight closer than it needs to be. However, "Hands of Stone" usually fights with quite a bit of aggression, which should be very helpful in this bout.
Record: 12-2 (1)
Key Wins: Lyoto Machida (UFC 163), Alexander Gustafsson (UFC 112), Antonio Rogerio Nogueira (UFC Fight Night 24)
Key Losses: Anthony Johnson (UFC 172), Rashad Evans (UFC on FOX 2)
Keys to Victory: Davis has an incredible amateur wrestling career, earning All-American status four times and winning an NCAA championship in his senior year. Though his takedowns have carried his career, his wrestling has yet to lead him to consistent success against the elite fighters in the division.
Davis has taken to submission grappling pretty well, as it compliments his length. In addition to his trademark "Mr. Wonderful" shoulder lock, Davis routinely attacks with the anaconda choke.
In order to defeat Teixeira, Davis needs to force him to lead. The Brazilian is a fairly simple striker, relying heavily on his cross counter and little else. In order for that to really be effective, Teixeira has to use it as a counter to his opponent's jab.
Instead, Davis should avoid boxing with the Brazilian and land his kicks whenever possible. Then, when Teixeira leads -- which is not his strong suit -- Davis can shoot a reactive takedown. Not only does this force Teixeira out of his comfort zone a bit, but it will help Davis avoid having to mix his own strikes and takedowns.
Finally, Davis cannot give up on the shot if it is initially stuffed. Instead, he must work into the clinch off the shot and work from there. Davis does not have the skill of Jones, but he could attempt to duplicate his success in the clinch, as he has the necessary physical gifts.
Bottom Line from Brazil: With both men in their thirties, a win is vital to building a streak and working towards the title.
For Teixeira, this is an absolute must win. He lost his fight with Jones quite clearly, meaning it will be difficult enough to get back in the title picture without a loss to Davis on his record. However, a win over a fellow top-10 fighter is a solid start, as light heavyweight is hardly the deepest division.
A loss, however, would likely send Teixeira down the path of action fighter rather than contender. He would end up in fun fights with fellow knockout artists, but it would take much, much longer to get back in the cage with the champion.
The time is now for Davis to start winning fights against the division's elite. He seems to have plateaued as a fighter, but his striking and transitions are nowhere near where they need to be. Worse still, there's little interest in a fight between him and "Bones," as Davis appears to simply be a lesser version.
In order to truly impress, Davis not only needs to win but showcase growth. Then, he'll be on his way to title contention. Otherwise, he'll simply end up as a high level gatekeeper to the top tier of the division.
At UFC 179, Phil Davis and Glover Teixeira will fight to return to the win column. Which man will walk away with a win?