Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) Light Heavyweight veterans Anthony Smith and Glover Teixeira will duel TONIGHT (May 13, 2020) from inside VyStar Veterans Memorial Arena in Jacksonville, Florida.
I don’t know that anyone predicted such an incredibly successful move to 205 pounds for Smith. Sure, he got smacked down by Jon Jones in his title shot, but he’s hardly the only fighter to find himself in that predicament. Otherwise, Smith has won four bouts via finish, defeating two former title challengers in the process. Teixeira, meanwhile, is as tough and durable as an old leather shoe. He’s been through wars and ups-and-downs inside the Octagon, but the 40-year-old Brazilian is nevertheless on a three-fight win streak and attempting to get his name back into the top five yet again.
Let’s take a closer look at the keys to victory for both men:
Key Wins: Volkan Oezdemir (UFC Fight Night 138), Alexander Gustafsson (UFC Fight Night 153), Mauricio Rua (UFC Fight Night 134), Rashad Evans (UFC 225), Hector Lombard (UFC Fight Night 116), Andrew Sanchez (UFC on FOX 24)
Key Losses: Jon Jones (UFC 235), Thiago Santos (UFC Fight Night 125), Cezar Ferreira (TUF 23 Finale)
Keys to Victory: It’s hard to describe what exactly has changed with Smith’s move up an additional 20 lbs. He certainly seems to hit harder, which never hurts, and his cardio has been excellent. Otherwise, Smith is still a dangerous if hittable striker with strong jiu-jitsu and average enough wrestling.
At Light Heavyweight, that’s been a very successful recipe.
Smith’s range, power, and youth are all huge advantages here. Teixeira has been through the ringer, and as a result, he’s less durable and slower than he once was. That’s not to say the Brazilian isn’t still a crafty threat with real knockout power, but he’s not going to be able to easily tank Smith’s offense.
Smith has recently done a better job at countering opponents, really making better use of his lanky build. Teixeira likes to advance behind a high guard as he stalks his foes, but Anthony Johnson and Gustafsson have showcased a way around that for Smith to copy: show the left hand and send an uppercut.
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), Ion Cutelaba (UFC Fight Night 150), Nikita Krylov (UFC Fight Night 158)
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: Don’t think for a second that Teixeira has become an easy fight just because he’s slowed down a bit. Teixeira still has thunder in his right hand, and his top game is absolutely suffocating — the pair have combined to produce 25 career finish victories.
This bout is really all about range for Teixeira. If he’s able to gain entry into the pocket with getting kicked to pieces and tagged up with rangy punches he cannot match, we have a real fight on our hands. Teixeira’s overhand could certainly punish Smith for standing too tall, so long as he’s throwing it from a good distance rather than over-extending.
Rather than simply walk forward with his hands high — which led to the aforementioned uppercuts courtesy of “Rumble” and “Mauler” — Teixeira has to feint with his legs at least a little bit. Draw out a counter, then advance! In addition, Teixeira has a great high-crotch shot. Taking Smith down should definitely be a part of his strategy, but just using the shot to press Smith towards the fence could go a long way.
It’s a match up between fairly high-ranked Light Heavyweights who are still decently removed from the title.
Let’s be honest: Anthony Smith is almost certainly not going to receive a title shot so long as Jon Jones is kingpin. The first fight was ... not a good look for “Lionheart,” and few are eager to see a repeat. Fortunately for Smith, Jones’ ironclad grasp on the title has definitely loosened significantly in his last two defenses. So long as Smith keeps winning, he’ll be in good position to face off with the new champion whenever the belt changes hands.
It’s difficult to imagine Teixeira earning another title shot, as he simply isn’t at his peak anymore. However, Teixeira can make a counter argument by continuing to win and building up a win streak. Victory here likely puts “Hands of Stone” in the top five riding a four-fight win streak — that’s considerable! At the very least, victory earns him another high-profile fight.
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 event click here.
UFC Jacksonville, Anthony Smith and Glover Teixeira will go to war in the main event. Which man remains standing when the dust settles?