Heavy-handed Brazilian, Glover Teixeira, is set to battle with former Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) Light Heavyweight strap-hanger, Rashad Evans, this Saturday (April 16, 2016) at UFC on FOX 19 inside Amalie Arena in Tampa, Florida.
Outside of a rough 2014 -- in which Teixeira dropped disappointing decisions to both Jon Jones and Phil Davis -- Teixeira has been phenomenal. Leading up to his title fight with Jones, "Hands of Stone" was finishing opponents left and right.
Though some doubted Teixeira following those consecutive losses, he's proven his continued worth. In his last two bouts, the Brazilian has finished a pair of ranked fighters and proved himself an elite fighter. Now, he'll continue working toward the title in this match up with the former champ.
Let's take a closer look at his skill set:
Teixeira hits like a Heavyweight. Living up to his nickname, the Brazilian has finished 14 of his opponents via knockout. In addition, his striking game may not particularly complex, but the only man to ever defeat Teixeira standing was "Bones" Jones.
For the most part, Teixeira relies upon his boxing. More accurately, Teixeira often simply looks to his right hand. Since a successful cross or hook from Teixeira usually stuns his opponent and can easily end the fight, that's not such a bad strategy.
Much of the time Teixeira fights, he's stalking his opponent looking for his right hand over the top. His pressure forces his opponent to respond, and Teixeira is just waiting for his opponent to flick out a jab or even a left hook. Once that happens, Teixeira will slip inside and look to land the cross counter.
If his opponent is hesitant to throw, Teixeira is fine with leading as well. Teixeira is still focused on landing his right, but he has a few different set ups. For example, he'll do a nice job with his jab and left hook to force his opponent to cover before slamming home his right around the guard. For a fighter that rarely uses it, Teixeira's jab is rather sharp and should definitely be thrown more often.
In addition, Teixeira is more than willing to lead with his right hand. He comes forward with the straight often, following up with a powerful left hook (GIF). On occasion, Teixeira will also simply just attack with alternating hooks, which is particularly effective when Teixeira's opponent is backed into the fence.
For the sake of variety, Teixeira also has a strong right uppercut in his arsenal. Once his opponent begins to react to the threat of Teixeira's hooks or is simply threatening with level changes, Teixeira will look to time his movement with the uppercut (GIF).
Teixeira does a nice job of mixing it up to the body as well, largely with his straight right hand. This helps keep him a bit more unpredictable, in addition to all the standard benefits of body punching. In particular, body shots were very effective for him opposite "Rampage" Jackson, who's generally a difficult man to hit cleanly. However, Teixeira's body work eventually took its toll and had Jackson's hands lowered, allowing him to score with big punches to the chin more often.
It's worth mentioning that Teixeira is a solid combination boxer when he tries to put it all together. Usually, this is when his opponent is hurt, as Teixeira is excellent at stringing together power punches to put away a stunned foe (GIF).
It's rarely utilized, but Teixeira has a decent kicking game. After his opponent backs away from Teixeira's punches, the Brazilian will occasionally follow up with a low or high kick. Finishing combinations with kicks is a smart part of Teixeira's game, as it encourages his opponent to trade with him.
Defensively, Teixeira's willingness to trade punches is certainly a dangerous habit. Furthermore, he can be too reliant on the cross counter. For example, Teixeira throw his overhand at air multiple times at Bader, as he was overeager. Ryan Bader took note, baiting him into a left hook while looking to counter the jab and dropping Teixeira.
A strong man with solid set ups and agility, it shouldn't be much of a surprise that Teixeira is such an effective wrestler. Offensively, he's proven to be quite a handful, and his takedown defense has only disappointed once in a flat performance against an NCAA champion.
Teixeira always initiates his takedown by changing levels for a single leg. He usually finishes by running the pipe with a dump, driving his opponent's hips down into the mat. If his opponent keeps his balance, Teixeira will switch directions and drive through him with a double. Between those two basic finishes and his ability to fluidly chain them together, Teixeira has managed to take down most of his opponents.
Inside the Octagon, Teixeira has relied on his wrestling a few times. For one, he successfully threw Jackson to the mat multiple times, which has never been an easy task (GIF). More recently, Teixeira relied on his power double leg a few times against Ovince St. Preux, although that switch was largely because of desperation.
Without his takedown game, Teixeira would've been in bad shape.
Once he takes down his opponent, Teixeira is capable of finishing the fight with brutal ground strikes. An active guard passer, the Brazilian looks to move into at least half guard before opening up. Once in a controlling position, Teixeira will posture up above his opponent and throw heavy strikes.
If Teixeira can secure a mount, the fight is basically over. He climbs very high on his opponent's hips, limiting his ability to bridge and shake the Brazilian off of him. In addition, his tight hips prevent elbow escapes while allowing him to posture. From there, he starts to hammer away with punches and elbows. In UFC, Teixeira's continual punishment from the mount position -- and most others -- eventually forced the referee to call off the tremendously violent beating of Fabio Maldonado.
Prior to his bout with Davis, Teixeira had successfully shut down each of his opponents' attempts to bring the fight to the mat. In fact, he stuffed plenty of Davis' shots too. However, a few key errors mid-fight allowed Davis to routinely gain top position and control.
Though Davis rarely finished his initial shot, he found plenty of success transitioning into the back clinch, where he could weigh on Teixeira and drag him to the mat. Teixeira made this easier for Davis by swinging wildly, allowing him to duck under and move toward the back easily.
Additionally, Teixeira jumped on the guillotine choke numerous times. It's hard to blame him for doing it once, as he's finished fights with it, but Teixeira hopped on the submission repeatedly without ever coming close.
A second-degree black belt, Teixeira has proven himself to be a very dangerous grappler. He's crushingly heavy from top position, and the Brazilian is always trying to snatch his opponent's neck.
One of Teixeira's main weapons is his arm triangle choke, largely thanks to his strong hip control from mount. As his opponent squirms and bucks, Teixeira remains unmoved and still able to land punches. This causes further panic, and Teixeira can take advantages of opportunities that are bound to open up.
This was perfectly illustrated in his submission win over Kyle Kingsbury. Kingsbury is an exceptionally strong athlete, but his desperate attempts to bump or turnover did very little. It's an exceptionally difficult task to utterly contain a man that powerful, but Kingsbury's explosions did not gain him any ground. Stuck halfway into a bump, "Kingsbu's" arm was left in a dangerous position. Teixeira simply latched on and squeezed, quickly finishing the American Kickboxing Academy (AKA)-trained product (GIF).
A similar situation occurred in Teixeira's battle with St. Preux. While "OSP" managed to power his way out of the mount, Teixeira slid into back mount and kept his hip pressure. Eventually, this allowed him to snatch up a rear naked choke victory (GIF).
There's plenty of evidence to suggest that Teixeira has a very powerful squeeze. Whenever he's managed to attack the neck from good position, he's been quite successful at scoring the finish. For example, Teixeira controlled a front headlock as James Te Huna tried to stand up following a takedown. Te Huna, also a very strong man, couldn't get his head out and was dragged back to the mat without much difficulty.
From there, Teixeira decided to jump guard. He made things easier for himself by trapping one of Te Huna's arms with his legs, allowing the New Zealand native only a single arm to defend himself with. He then sat up into the arm-in choke, properly cutting off blood flow. Without many ways to defend himself, Te Huna was quickly forced to submit (GIF).
If we're all being honest with each other, the odds of either Teixeira or Evans climbing the ranks and stealing the title from Daniel Cormier or Jon Jones seems rather slim. Despite that, both men are looking to put together that final title run before that chance morphs from slim to nonexistent. To keep that hope alive, this is a must-win bout for both athletes.
Andrew Richardson, a Brazilian jiu-jitsu purple belt, is an undefeated amateur fighter who trains at Team Alpha Male in Sacramento, California. In addition to learning alongside world-class talent, Andrew has scouted opponents and developed winning strategies for several of the sport's most elite fighters.