Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) Light Heavyweight knockout artists Anthony Johnson and Glover Teixiera will hunt for the finish this Saturday (Aug. 20, 2016) at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada.
If we’re being honest, "Rumble" has been fairly terrifying since moving up to 205 pounds. He’s explosive and absurdly dangerous, having battered each of his recent foes from pillar-to-post since returning to the Octagon.
Aside from Daniel Cormier, that is.
To his credit, it’s not like Teixeira has been playing patty cake, either. The Brazilian bruiser has been putting in some violent work of his own, resulting in a trio of victories and a return to the Top 5.
Let’s take a look at the keys to victory both athletes:
Key Wins: Alexander Gustafsson (UFC on FOX 14), Ryan Bader (UFC on FOX 18), Phil Davis (UFC 172), Andrei Arlovski (WSOF 2)
Key Losses: Daniel Cormier (UFC 187), Vitor Belfort (UFC 142)
Keys to Victory: Johnson is a freight train. He's an insanely talented athlete, one of the hardest punchers to ever compete inside the Octagon. Now that he's so incredibly difficult to take down, most of Johnson's opponents are stuck trading with him, which rarely ends well.
Or, they can opt to take the Ryan Bader route by giving up top position with a shitty shot and getting pounded out quickly.
In this match, Johnson should take advantage of his size and speed. He's the longer fighter — functionally as well as physically — and should make Teixeira come to him. If he's moving and kicking well on the outside, Teixiera won't be able to hit him with much and will be forced to try and close the distance. Plus, it's harder to take down a fighter circling at range than one with his feet planted and swinging.
A fighter is never easier to hit than when he's trying to move forward.
Once Teixeira is focused on closing the distance, Johnson will have opportunities to counter. The Brazilian can be predictable in his advances, and Johnson really only needs to land one big power punch to drastically shake things up.
Key Wins: Ryan Bader (UFC 160), Rashad Evans (UFC on FOX 19), 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 well-rounded and aggressive fighter. He's primarily a boxer with a very nasty jiu-jitsu game, but Teixeira has shown a solid wrestling game to compliment that offense as well.
In this bout, each of his skills will be pivotal if he's to pull off the upset.
Teixiera is a pressure fighter; it's what he knows and what he does. In order to take out Johnson, however, Teixeira cannot simply walk towards "Rumble," sling heavy blows, and see who remains standing at the end of the exchange.
It probably won't be him.
Instead, Teixeira should do his best to draw Johnson into a brawl with the intention of landing the takedown. He can't simply dive for a shot like Bader, but if Teixeira moves towards Johnson feinting with level changes and a brutal overhand, it will keep "Rumble" on his toes.
Once Johnson realizes he's in a real fight — which shouldn't take long, as Teixeira can throw heat — he usually starts to swing wild. That's Teixeira's opportunity to duck down and wrestle, but he must remain committed. Johnson is often able to explode from early takedown attempts, but that type of escape is exhausting.
If Teixeira remains disciplined, he can capitalize on the power puncher's vulnerabilities.
Bottom Line: This is a title eliminator bout.
Johnson may only be on a two-fight win streak, but a pair of brutal knockouts will definitely build momentum quickly. If Johnson can extend his streak to three, there’s no doubt he’s earned another showdown with current kingpin Daniel Cormier.
In a post-Jon Jones world, there’s few better fights at 205 pounds.
On the other hand, a loss would be quite a setback. At 32 years old, Johnson is in his athletic prime and has been competing professionally for 10 years. He’s not going to get much better, so now is the time to snatch the strap.
Similarly, Teixeira isn’t likely to develop much further. He’s a longtime veteran and has been a top talent for some time, but this is the finished product. If he comes up short in this title eliminator, it’s not going to be easy to make another run. Alternatively, a win sets up Teixeira with a bout against Cormier. It would be nice to see a fresh title match up, and Teixiera definitely does pose a threat to the Olympian.
At UFC 202, Anthony Johnson and Glover Teixiera will swing for the fences in the co-main event. Which fighter will remain standing when the dust settles?