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MMA: UFC Fight Night-Smith vs Teixeira Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

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Fighter on Fighter: Breaking down UFC Vegas 13’s Glover Teixeira

Veteran heavy hitter, Glover Teixeira, will go to war opposite fellow powerhouse, Thiago Santos, this Saturday (Nov. 7, 2020) at UFC Vegas 13 inside UFC APEX in Las Vegas, Nevada.

I don’t think anyone expected Teixeira to work himself back into a title eliminator in 2020. The Brazilian is 41 years old, and his best days should be far behind. Yet, each of the wins on his current four-fight win streak really showed a lot about the premium alloys that make up “Hands of Stone.” In the first two fights, Teixeira was nearly knocked out before finishing his opponents. That may not have inspired confidence, but it does prove his eternal grit. A grinding wrestling match — AT 40! — picked up his next win, at which point Teixeira let Anthony Smith punch himself out before utterly destroying him.

Toughness, hunger and experience make up the current version of Glover Teixeira. Let’s take a closer look at his skill set:

Striking

There’s really nothing too complicated about Teixeira’s kickboxing. He’s a right-hand heavy puncher who nevertheless has power in both hands. There are some tricks, but really, it all comes down to clobbering his opponents with that right.

Much of the time Teixeira fights, he’s stalking his opponent looking for his right hand over the top. 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).

UFC 146: Dos Santos v Mir Photo by Josh Hedges/Zuffa LLC/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images

If his opponent is hesitant to throw, Teixeira is fine with leading as well. Teixeira is still focused on landing his right, but he has a few different set ups. For example, he’ll do a nice job with his jab and left hook to force his opponent to cover before slamming home his right around the guard. For a fighter that rarely uses it, Teixeira’s jab is rather sharp.

In addition, Teixeira is more than willing to lead with his right hand. He comes forward with the straight often, following up with a powerful left hook (GIF), which lands best on foes looking to back away from the exchange. Teixeira typically does nice work in capitalizing on cage position, teeing off an opponents after backing them into the fence.

For the sake of variety, Teixeira also has a strong right uppercut in his arsenal. Once his opponent begins to react to the threat of Teixeira’s hooks or is simply threatening with level changes, Teixeira will look to time his movement with the uppercut (GIF).

Teixeira does a nice job of mixing it up to the body as well, largely with his straight right hand. This helps keep him a bit more unpredictable, in addition to all the standard benefits of body punching. In particular, body shots were very effective for him opposite “Rampage” Jackson, who’s generally a difficult man to hit cleanly. However, Teixeira’s body work eventually took its toll and had Jackson’s hands lowered, allowing him to score with big punches to the chin more often.

Most of Teixeira’s recent success has come on the mat, but against Smith, it began in the stand up. Smith threw a ton of strikes without fully committing his power behind them, so Teixeira played it patient. In the second round, Teixeira began firing back more often, but the situation really changed in the fourth.

As a fatigued Smith stumbled forward with a jab, Teixeira slammed home an uppercut. Unwilling to let Smith off without further punishment, Teixeira used his left arm to keep Smith’s posture broken, allowing for more uppercuts (GIF). Smith was getting hammered and was forced to concede top position.

It’s rarely utilized, but Teixeira has a decent kicking game. After his opponent backs away from Teixeira’s punches, the Brazilian will occasionally follow up with a left low or high kick. Finishing combinations with kicks is a smart part of Teixeira’s game, as it encourages his opponent to trade with him.

Teixeira is something of a brawler, so it shouldn’t be a major surprise that his game involves taking some shots. Predictability can be an issue — everyone knows that right hand is coming! — but speed is perhaps a bigger problem. Teixeira has never been lightning quick, and age has not helped. Most notably against Alexander Gustafsson, Teixeira could not track his foe down, running into power shots repeatedly.

Wrestling

A strong man with solid set ups and agility, it shouldn’t be much of a surprise that Teixeira is such an effective wrestler. Offensively, he’s proven to be quite a handful, and his takedown defense has largely held up, though excellent transitional wrestlers have proven an issue for him.

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.

UFC on FOX: Jackson v Teixeira Photo by Al Bello/Zuffa LLC/Zuffa LLC Via Getty Images

Likely Teixeira’s best overall wrestling performance came against Quinton Jackson, a historically difficult man to take down (GIF). More recently, Teixeira has done a lot more wall-wrestling. Part of that comes from desperation — again, Teixeira uses wrestling to recover from getting rocked — but it’s also a pretty wise choice for a stronger, slower veteran with a fairly deep gas tank.

Once he takes down his opponent, Teixeira is plenty capable of finishing the fight with brutal ground strikes. An active guard passer, the Brazilian looks to move into at least half guard before opening up. Once in a controlling position, Teixeira will posture up above his opponent and throw heavy strikes.

If Teixeira can secure a mount, the fight is basically over. He climbs very high on his opponent’s hips, limiting his ability to bridge and shake the Brazilian off of him. In addition, his tight hips prevent elbow escapes while allowing him to posture. From there, he starts to hammer away with punches and elbows. Anthony Smith is growing infamous for his ability to lose fights from bottom position without taking damage, but his possum act only saw him battered further by “Hands Of Stone.”

Prior to his bout with Davis, Teixeira had successfully shut down each of his opponents’ attempts to bring the fight to the mat. In fact, he stuffed plenty of Davis’ shots, too. However, a few key errors mid-fight allowed Davis to routinely gain top position and control.

Though Davis rarely finished his initial shot, he found plenty of success transitioning into the back clinch, where he could weigh on Teixeira and drag him to the mat. Teixeira made this easier for Davis by swinging wildly, allowing him to duck under and move toward the back easily.

Additionally, Teixeira jumped on the guillotine choke numerous times. It’s hard to blame him for doing it once, as he’s finished fights with it, but Teixeira hopped on the submission repeatedly without ever coming close.

Fast-forward a few years to his most recent loss opposite Corey Anderson, and many of the same issues came into play. A more straightforward grinder like Nikita Krylov will struggle to drag Teixeira down, but crafty chain wrestlers can really give him trouble.

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. All that is required is to catch his opponent in that halfway position between mount and back mount, and the choke can be quickly wrapped up. Alternatively, Teixeira will allow his foe to turn to their stomach, at which point he’ll reapply heavy hip pressure and bombing punches.

UFC Fight Night: Teixeira v Cutelaba Photo by Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images

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.

Conclusion

Is Teixeira likely to be a future champion? No, as the simplicity of his game is something of a throwback in the modern era (understandable for an 18-year professional). Fortunately for the likable Brazilian, the combination of experience, power and toughness remains invaluable.

And hey, no one expected Jan Blachowicz to take the title either ...

Remember that MMAmania.com will deliver LIVE round-by-round, blow-by-blow coverage of the entire UFC Vegas 13 fight card this weekend right here, starting with the ESPN+ “Prelims” matches, which are scheduled to begin at 7 p.m. ET, then the remaining main card balance on ESPN2 / ESPN+ 10 p.m. ET.

To check out the latest and greatest UFC Vegas 13: “Santos vs. Teixeira” news and notes be sure to hit up our comprehensive event archive right 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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