Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) Light Heavyweight powerhouses Glover Teixeira and Ion Cutelaba will face off this Saturday (April 27, 2019) at UFC Fight Night 150 from BB&T Center in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.
Since 2016, Glover Teixeira has alternated wins-and-losses against a rather high level of competition. It’s safe to say the Brazilian knockout artist is no longer at the peak of his game — “Hands of Stone” turns 40 in October — but Teixeira remains a hard-nosed and rugged athlete, not to be underestimated. All the same, Cutelaba is unlikely to show him the least bit of respect. The 25-year-old “Hulk” is a bruiser himself, and he’s finished his last two fights via first-round knockout. After a tough start to his UFC career, Cutelaba will try to prove himself a contender by defeating the former title challenger.
Let’s take a closer look at the keys to victory for each man:
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), Misha Cirkunov (UFC on FOX 26)
Key Losses: Jon Jones (UFC 172), Alexander Gustafsson (UFC Fight Night 109), Anthony Johnson (UFC 202), Corey Anderson (UFC Fight Night 134)
Keys to Victory: Teixeira is a man who absolutely clubs opponents with his punches, knocking them silly with overhands and left hooks. More recently, Teixeira has been forced to rely more on his offensive wrestling and grappling, but the jiu-jitsu black belt has ferocious punching power on the mat as well.
Scoring a takedown seems real important here. I don’t know who the finer technical boxer is, but Cutelaba is more than a decade younger, plenty strong, and tough as nails himself. If the two trade in the pocket until one falls down, you’d have to favor the younger man.
Luckily, Teixeira seems to be aware that he doesn’t possess his former speed and durability. The Brazilian fights to win, which often means dropping down into a high-crotch takedown and running the pipe.
Cutelaba has shown a mix of takedown defense, sometimes stonewalling his foe’s shots but still being overwhelmed in his debut. Whether the first attempt works or not, Teixeira must stick to his chain wrestling and trust in the high-crotch to eventually off-balance “Hulk.” Once on top, it’s smooth sailing, as Teixeira’s top pressure is immense and his overall top game is deadly.
Record: 14-3 (1)
Key Wins: Henrique da Silva (UFC Fight Night 110), Gadzhimurad Antigulov (UFC 217), Jonathon Wilson (UFC Fight Night 96)
Key Losses: Misha Cirkunov (UFC Fight Night 89), Jared Cannonier (TUF 24 Finale)
Keys to Victory: Cutelaba does not play around inside the Octagon. He’s already finished 11 past foes via knockout, mostly in the first round. The Moldovan athlete is a serious physical force inside the Octagon, almost always overpowering and out-punching his foes in the early portions of the fight.
There’s no reason for Cutelaba to wait around here, either. Teixeira is a long-time veteran, tricky and tough. Extending the fight will give time for Teixeira to figure out his younger foe, to deliberate the best avenue to the takedown or identify some hole in his striking defense.
None of that benefits “The Hulk.”
Instead, Cutelaba’s best bet is to blow Teixeira out of the water immediately. Jump on the veteran from the first bell and put power punches on his chin. Force Teixeira to take bad shots and then follow up with haymakers on the break. If Cutelaba is to pass this test, he’s likely to do it violently and quickly.
Bottom Line: Teixeira is fulfilling his gatekeeper role opposite a dangerous prospect.
It’s hard to say precisely how much longer Teixeira is looking to fight, but there will be a place for him at 205 pounds for a long time. While it’s clear that Teixeira’s title hopes are in the past — which is a shame, because the Brazilian was arguably the best in the world while visa issues kept him from the Octagon — the division still desperately needs quality fighters to test up-and-comers.
Even with his athleticism failing, Teixeira’s punching power and ground skills are still formidable enough to massacre an unprepared foe.
Cutelaba faced some very tough competition at a pretty young age, making his pair of losses quite understandable. A couple more years of work in the gym and experience in the cage, however, see Cutelaba ready to give the Top 10 another attempt. Given his credentials and athleticism, it seems inevitable at some point for Cutelaba to make his way up the ranks, but this bout will reveal whether the time is now.
At UFC on ESPN 3, Glover Teixeira and Ion Cutelaba will go to war. Which Light Heavyweight will remain standing when the dust settles?