Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) Light Heavyweight hitters Glover Teixeira and Rashad Evans will clash TONIGHT (April 16, 2016) at UFC on FOX 19 inside Amalie Arena in Tampa, Florida.
Teixeira picked up a pair of solid wins in his last two bouts, and he's looking for a third victory here. If Teixeira can become just the second man to finish Evans, he's in great position to fight for the title once more.
Meanwhile, Evans returned from a long layoff only to suffer an uninspired decision loss to Ryan Bader in Oct. 2015. Now, Evans must prove that he's still a relevant player in 2016, or he'll be relegated away from high-profile bouts.
Let's take a look at the keys to victory for both men:
Key Wins: Ryan Bader (UFC 160), Ovince St. Preux (UFC Fight Night 73), Quinton Jackson (UFC on FOX 6),
Key Losses: Jon Jones (UFC 172), Phil Davis (UFC 179)
Keys to Victory: Teixeira is a very well-rounded combatant. The Brazilian is a second-degree black belt in jiu-jitsu, possesses some murderous punching power, and he's a very capable wrestler as well.
In this fight, Teixeira's biggest key to victory is to avoid over-committing to his punches. His opponent is excellent at timing his takedowns -- both at the end of his own combinations and reactively -- so Teixeira needs to be careful of reaching for his opponent.
If Teixeira can keep this fight standing, he should be able to put his "Hands of Stone" to good use. Evans has definitely slowed down a bit in recent years, and he's far more hittable than he once was.
Against a puncher like Teixeira, that's a problem.
It's also important that Teixiera show a sense of urgency if he is taken down. Evans is not much of an offensive guard passer or devastating ground striker, so Teixeira should scramble immediately and take risks to return to his feet.
Key Wins: Phil Davis (UFC on FOX 2), Dan Henderson (UFC 161), Chuck Liddell (UFC 88)
Key Losses: Jon Jones (UFC 145), Ryan Bader (UFC 192), Antonio Rogerio Nogueira (UFC 156)
Keys to Victory: Evans is a sharp boxer and one of the finest MMA wrestlers in the sport. Evans blends those two aspects of his game far better than most, allowing him to effectively chain together his strikes and takedowns very well.
If he's still in relatively good form, Evans holds a pair of advantages over Teixeira that he's held over most of his past opponents. Namely, Evans is the faster man and better wrestler.
With those skills, Evans can stick and move, as his speed should allow him to land and get away safely. This will undoubtedly frustrate the power puncher and make him more aggressive, which is where Evans' excellent blast double will come in handy.
There is one adjustment Evans could attempt here. Phil Davis had great success at controlling Teixeira from the turtle, and that's a strategy Evans could look to replicate as well.
Above all else, it's important that Evans doesn't hesitate. If he lets Teixeira stalk him and find his range, he's simply asking to eat some very hard shots and make his own life difficult.
Bottom Line: Only one of these men can be relevant to the title picture.
Teixeira has done a very nice job rebounding from his 2014 losses. If he wins here, that will be three straight victories over some pretty quality opposition. While he's not likely to receive a title shot from this win -- see Jones, Jon -- it's not impossible that he ends up in the cage with Anthony Johnson in a title eliminator.
On the other hand, a loss would really derail his momentum. Evans hasn't been performing particularly well, so for Teixeira to lose here it would be a major setback.
Despite his recent time off and loss to Bader, victory would put Evans in very good position. He wouldn't be ready for a No. 1 contender's bout just yet, but nor would the former champion be that far off.
Alternatively, a loss is a pretty definitive statement that Evans should not be competing opposite members of the top five anymore. He's been in UFC for a long time and has had a great career, but "Suga" may no longer be an elite Light Heavyweight.
TONIGHT at UFC on FOX 19, Glover Teixeira and Rashad Evans will go to war in the main event. Which fighter will remain standing when the dust settles?