Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) Light Heavyweight contenders Glover Teixeira and Ovince St. Preux will battle this Saturday (Aug. 8, 2015) at UFC Fight Night 73 inside Bridgestone Arena in Nashville, Tennessee.
After winning 20 straight fights, including his first five UFC fights, Teixeira has fallen on hard times. He's lost two fights in a row in decisive fashion, and it's very important for him to get back into the win column for this fight.
Meanwhile, Saint Preux has been on a steady rise since joining UFC. Though he lost his first real chance to step into the elite opposite Ryan Bader, "OSP" has earned a second shot here.
Let's take a look at the keys to victory for both fighters:
Key Wins: Ryan Bader (UFC 160), Quinton Jackson (UFC on FOX 6), James Te Huna (UFC 160)
Key Losses: Jon Jones (UFC 172), Phil Davis (UFC 179)
Keys to Victory: Teixeira is a very dangerous finisher. On his feet, he's a brutal power puncher with a brick chin. When the fight moves onto the mat, "Hands of Stone" is equally skilled on the mat with his submission attack.
In this bout, distance will be extremely important for both men. As the man with a shorter reach, it's very important for Teixeira to stay out of his opponent's kicking distance. In short, the Brazilian needs to either be too close or too far to kick at all times.
When Teixeira is able to close the distance and force boxing exchanges, he's at an advantage. He's the sharper boxer with similar power, while his opponent gets quite sloppy and drops his hands in exchanges.
If Teixeira if too far for "OSP" to kick, he'll soon lunge at him with punches. Once again, St. Preux's technique disappears in such exchanges, and he leaves himself very vulnerable. If Teixeira doesn't wish to trade punches, he could also look for the takedown in that moment.
In wrestling and boxing exchanges, Teixeira is at an advantage, so he just needs to force those scenarios and avoid the heavy kicks and counters of his opponent.
Ovince St. Preux
Key Wins: Mauricio Rua (UFC Fight Night 56), Patrick Cummins (UFC on FOX 15), Ryan Jimmo (UFC 174)
Key Losses: Ryan Bader (UFC Fight Night 47), Gegard Mousasi (Strikeforce: Melendez vs Masvidal)
Keys to Victory: An aggressive kicker with heavy hands, St. Preux's technique is constantly improving. Luckily, his athleticism and length have allowed him ample time to develop.
The most improved aspect of St. Preux's game appears to be his counter striking. In his last two fights, he's nailed his opponents with one-hitter quitters in the very first round, capitalizing on their loose defense with a single precise strike.
St. Preux should look to force Teixeira to lead. From the outside, he can slam his opponent with heavy body kicks. Teixeira is an aggressive fighter, so he's not going to just wait around and absorb them.
Instead, Teixeira will come forward, likely with his beloved overhand right. That's a big opportunity for "OSP," as he can back away and fire off his heavy counter punches.
Finally, it's very important for St. Preux to stay relaxed. This is a five round fight, and both men are rather durable. Therefore, St. Preux has to keep calm and avoid wasting energy to ensure that he can stay competitive throughout 25 minutes.
Bottom Line: The entire 205-pound division is fairly shallow right now. It needs contenders, and one of these men will fill that role.
While Teixeira's had his shot at the title and came up short, there's a new champion in town. With no real time frame for Jones' return, Teixeira could conceivably earn another shot before his return. It's not likely, but the win streak would need to start here to be possible.
On the other hand, a loss really shows how far Teixeira has dropped. Alternatively, it may mean that Teixeira was simply never as good as he appeared. Looking back, his only win that remains relevant is Bader, and that was a very competitive fight.
This is a much larger opportunity for St. Preux. He's earned his position in the Top 10, and now he can move up into the top five with a victory. As mentioned, light heavyweight needs contenders, and a win means that "OSP" is knocking on the door of a title shot.
However, a loss here would mean that St. Preux is now winless (0-3) in his chances to step up against top competition. He should be in the prime of his career, so another missed opportunity might mean that his window has passed.
At UFC Fight Night 73, Glover Teixeira and Ovince St. Preux will clash in the main event. Which man will have his hand raised?