Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) Light Heavyweight kingpin, Glover Teixeira, will seek to defend his throne opposite knockout artist, Jiri Prochazka, this Saturday (June 11, 2022) at UFC 275 inside Singapore Indoor Stadium in Kallang, Singapore.
Teixeira has already accomplished the impossible, the storybook ending that seemed far out of reach. By capturing the belt SEVEN YEARS after his initial attempt just days after his 42nd birthday, Teixeira made history and carved out a place among the mixed martial arts (MMA) pantheon of great late career rallies. It would have made plenty of sense to walk away on top that night in Abu Dhabi. Instead, Teixeira feels the fire for a couple more fights, and he’s not being tossed softballs. He’s going to make the walk at least once more versus the most dangerous 205-pound newcomer in quite some time.
Let’s take a closer look at the champion’s skill set:
Whether we’re talking about young Teixeira or the older man with a belt over his shoulder, the “Hands Of Stone” kickboxing approach has never been overly complicated. He’s a right hand-heavy puncher with knockout power in either fist, and he’s plenty comfortable in a firefight.
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).
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.
Teixeira largely brought the usual game plan to the Octagon vs. Jan Blachowicz, but there was one key adjustment. Teixeira really focused on rolling — or at least ducking — after throwing his right. In the first round, he showed several left hooks off the roll before landing a perfect entry on the high-crotch single leg following a right hand roll. In the second, Teixeira clipped Blachowicz hard by slipping left after his right and returning to stance with a huge swing (GIF).
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.
Much of Teixeira’s recent success has come on the mat, but against Anthony 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 third.
As a fatiguing Smith threw a bit of a sloppy 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.
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 the larger 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. In particular, uppercuts and knees up the middle have been used to catch Teixeira chasing, as he’ll lean forward a bit while looking to throw his power shots or wrestle.
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.
This is no insult, but Teixeira’s title reign certainly became more possible when top-tier wrestlers like Jon Jones and Corey Anderson abandoned the UFC Light Heavyweight division. By and large, he’s wrestling strikers and having a great time doing so!
Teixeira almost always initiates his takedown by changing levels for a high-crotch 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. 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. Teixeira has turned getting rocked into a double leg against the fence in at least half of his recent wins.
In the final takedown of the fight vs. Blachowicz, Teixeira adjusted to his opponent’s defense well. Blachowicz spread his base wide to prevent the double, but he was perhaps a bit too wide. Teixeira switched off to the single, and as Blachowicz tried to move towards the back, the Brazilian dumped him to the canvas.
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.
His use of the can opener vs. Blachowicz was a major throwback. Generally, grabbing an opponent’s head is considered poor arm position while in guard, because it really opens up the risk of getting armbarred. Considering Teixeira’s excellent jiu-jitsu and Blachowicz’s terror of having his guard passed, the crank instead worked wonderfully and without any backfiring, making Blachowicz’s life miserable on bottom.
If Teixeira can secure a mount, the fight is basically over. He climbs very high into his foe’s armpits, 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 has a unique reputation for his ability to lose fights from bottom position without taking major damage in the process, but his possum act only saw him battered further by “Hands Of Stone.”
Prior to his bout with Phil 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 Anderson, and many of the same issues came into play. A more straightforward grinder like Krylov will struggle to drag Teixeira down, but crafty chain wrestlers can really give him trouble.
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. Four of the wins on Teixeira’s current win streak came via tapout, and he’s submitted ten foes total — more than one would expect from a man nicknamed for his knockout power!
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.
The rear-naked choke tends to become quickly available. It all comes back to that hip pressure, as Teixeira’s opponents really appear to be glued into miserable positions once the Brazilian drops his hips.
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.
The stylistic match up for Teixeira’s first title defense is an odd one. On one hand, Prochazka has the range, speed, and power advantages to easily melt Teixeira inside a couple minutes. However, he’s also very much the over-eager young knockout artist to fall into Teixeira’s crafty grappling trap and get destroyed on bottom for his impatience.
One way or another, UFC 275’s main event doesn’t seem likely to last long.
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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