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UFC Fight Night Smith v Teixeira: Weigh-Ins

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Fighter on Fighter: Breaking down Anthony Smith and Glover Teixeira | UFC Jacksonville

Photo by Cooper Neill/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images

Former Light Heavyweight title challengers Anthony Smith and Glover Teixeira will throw down this Wednesday (May 13, 2020) at UFC on ESPN 8 inside VyStar Veterans Memorial Arena in Jacksonville, Florida.

Both men enter this bout having taken fairly strange roads to become contenders. Smith rose up from relative Middleweight obscurity to stopping top-ranked Light Heavyweights. Though his title fight with Jon Jones went rather poorly, that’s true for most of his challengers, and “Lionheart” remains relevant at 205 pounds.

Alternatively, Teixeira was likely towards the tail end of his prime when he faced Jones back in 2014! Now 40 years old, Teixeira is still a hard-nosed, heavy puncher will killer jiu-jitsu in his back pocket, which has proven enough to put together a solid three-fight win streak.

Let’s take a closer look at their skills:

Striking

Neither of these men are what I would describe as particularly complex kickboxers.

In Smith’s case, he attacks foes with a lot of classic Muay Thai combinations. One of the bigger changes of his recent success has been a willingness to actually take advantage of his lanky build and long arms. Opposite “Shogun” Rua, Smith was more willing than usual to give up ground. As Rua advanced with his guard high, Smith stabbed at him with jabs and left hooks (GIF). “Lionheart” was truly making the most of his significant reach advantage ... and Rua did not like it one bit. “Shogun” tried to pressure Smith into the fence — not a bad strategy — but he over-reached on his right hand. More than that, Rua was too eager to trade with Smith, likely a result of his probing shots from range.

Rua found himself stunned in the following exchange, and Smith swarmed violently (GIF).

Smith was unable to escape with such a clean victory against Oezdemir, but “Lionheart” certainly landed from his back foot. In that fight — and many others — Smith committed quite a bit to the check hook. It cost him some feeling on his lead leg due to getting kicked while pivoting, but Smith did manage to angle off and land some hard shots using the check hook opposite “No Time.”

When Smith is stalking opponents, it’s not usually with extended combinations unless he’s trying to flurry. He’ll occasionally stab at his opponents with a hard jab. More often, Smith likes to lead with his right hand, which sets up a hard left kick or left knee easily. Sometimes, Smith will follow the cross with a same side head kick, which can catch opponents off-guard.

Lastly, Smith’s work in the clinch has proven quite dangerous. He controls the double-collar tie quite well, using that position to land knees or break with a hard elbow. Against Rashad Evans, Smith used an overhook and forearm frame — sometimes called the A-Frame position — to deny Evans takedown attempt and land a fight-ending knee.

Teixeira’s striking could really be simplified down to one weapon: the overhand right. There are a few other tricks to his attack (like his uppercut counter to takedowns and underrated kicks), but in the interests of conciseness, let’s focus on his main weapon.

Teixeira is almost always stalking his opponent, waiting for the left hand to come. 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 (GIF).

Teixeira will throw his right as a lead too, and often he follows his cross up with a roll and left hook. It’s a formidable pair of power punches, and either can send his opponent crumbling to the mat. To help him mix up his attack, Teixeira will punish the body with his right hand as well.

Simple or not, Teixeira has knocked out 17 opponents.

Wrestling

While both men prefer to strike rather than wrestle, Teixeira has historically been the better man at taking top position.

Teixeira always initiates his takedown by changing levels for a single-leg takedown. 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, back before it became an easy task (GIF). In more recent fights, Teixeira has taken the more straightforward approach of getting hurt badly by punches and then driving his opponent into the fence with double leg attempts.

Smith’s relationship with wrestling has long been an iffy one, but it’s substantially improved at 205 pounds. Defensively, he’s done a much better job of bending his knees and remaining athletic while striking — there’s nothing to be done about stopping a shot if the fighter trying to defend is too high up in the air. Aside from that adjustment, Smith has found good success in pulling fighters up from the double leg into the clinch, where he can rely more on his Muay Thai skill and A-Frame to do damage and eventually escape.

Offensively, Smith likes to make use of the running double leg that’s halfway between a traditional double and an upper body clinch. It’s usually a reactive shot, as Smith’s range fighting helps him pull his opponent forward into the takedown.

Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu

A second-degree black belt in jiu-jitsu, Glover Teixeira’s top game is brutally heavy, and it comes equipped with hammer-like punches and strangulations. Two of Teixeira’s last three victories came via submission, as well as eight total.

Teixeira really likes to secure the mount position, where he’ll reign down on his opponent with punches. When his foe bucks, Teixeira will often hunt for the arm triangle choke, which has allowed him to finish a pair of fights in UFC. Alternatively, Teixeira will allow his foe to turn to their stomach, at which point he’ll reapply heavy hip pressure and bombing punches.

The rear-naked choke tends to become quickly available.

Aside from that killer combination of pressure, punches and chokes, Teixeira has shown a dangerous guillotine choke. It’s nothing overly complicated, but Teixeira is plenty willing to jump guard after wrapping up the neck. All the evidence points to Teixeira having a pretty murderous squeeze, because opponents tend to tap frantically.

Jiu-jitsu has become a more consistent strength for Smith as well, who has finished his two biggest Light Heavyweight wins over Volkan Oezdemir and Alexander Gustafsson via rear naked choke. In both of those bouts, Smith wore his opponent down over the course of the fight, and when he finally took the back and locked in the body triangle, it proved a killing blow.

From his back, Smith’s go-to submission is definitely the triangle choke. Whenever taken down into the guard, it doesn’t take long for Smith to begin trying to stuff his opponent’s arms through and secure the hold. Again, Smith’s long legs are valuable here, really increasing the hold’s potency.

Conclusion

This pair of unlikely contenders will face off and determine who remains relevant at Light Heavyweight. For Smith, he’s fighting on the eventual hope that when Jon Jones someday loses, he can then fight for the title. As for Teixeira, it’s pretty remarkable that he’s once again climbed this high, but the Brazilian is likely make his last run up the ranks.

We’ll see how high he goes.

MMAmania.com will deliver LIVE round-by-round, blow-by-blow coverage of the entire UFC Jacksonville fight card on fight night, starting with the ESPN+ “Prelims” undercard bouts at 6 p.m. ET, followed by the ESPN+ main card start time at 9 p.m. ET.

For much more on tomorrow night’s Jacksonville event click here.


Andrew Richardson, a Brazilian jiu-jitsu brown belt, is a professional 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.

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