Contender or Pretender – Glover Teixeira

There’s going to be a lot of pretenders out there and we tend to find out pretty quickly when the Octagon door closes whether they are pretenders or contenders.

Not truly tested but super talented is Glover Teixeira.

He has an impressive 22-2-0 MMA Record. 5-0 UFC Record.

It’s his first UFC Title Fight this coming Saturday but he is experienced in the cage.

The challenge that faces Glover Teixeira is not one of fighting well. It will be one of fighting better and smarter than his opponent, the current UFC Light Heavyweight Champion. Jon “Bones” Jones.

Glover Teixeira will be the seventh man to try and take the UFC Light Heavyweight Title from the current champion Jon “Bones” Jones at this weekend’s UFC 172 PPV show. Teixeira is riding a twenty fight winning streak which started back in May 2006 at WEC 20, and includes wins over Ryan Bader, Quinton Jackson, Ricco Rodriguez and Sokoudjou to name but a few. But now in front of him stands perhaps the biggest test of his professional career as he finally gets his wish with a Light Heavyweight Title shot.

This will be the first edition of my new column “Contender or Pretender” in which I will look at upcoming UFC Title fights, but specially look at the challengers for the titles and use my own judgement and some stats (thanks to Fight Metric) to determine whether or not the challengers post a real threat to taking the Title belt.

This coming weekend plays host to UFC 172 and a Light Heavyweight Title showdown between the current Champion Jon Jones and the number 2 UFC ranked Light heavyweight, Glover Teixeira. Glover has won all five of his UFC bouts so far with only one going the distance (his fight at UFC on Fox against Quinton Jackson) but fight number six will see him fight an all round martial artist and will test him in all areas of the fight.

As with most of the Champions opponents Glover is at a serious reach disadvantage with a reach of 76 inches compared to Jones’s 84.5 inch span, although he is only five centimetres smaller than the champ. Glover works very well in the clinch and is a real ambassador of “dirty boxing” but in his last fight against Ryan Bader he got rocked more than once but luckily for him Bader wasn’t able to put him away. To enable him to utilise his clinch work in the title fight he will have to overcome that huge reach advantage that Jones has and could end up eating some shots in an attempt to bring Jones into his clinch or get the champ pressed up against the cage.

Jones has been so dominant as champion up until his last fight which went to the wire against Alexander Gustafsson. I think if we look at this performance alone, the reason that Gustafsson was so successful against the champion was that he had speed and takedown defence on his side. Jones just couldn’t take down the big Swede no matter how hard he tried and seemed to get more frustrated at that as the fight went into the championship rounds. Glover has yet to be taken down in the UFC and has been in there with Bader and Kingsbury who are both outstanding wrestlers. I think the difference with Jones is that his takedowns can come from anywhere and he adds them into his attack so well that its often impossible for his opponent to realise when he is going to shoot for the takedown. Gustafsson was the first man to really take Jones down and that seemed to affect the champion during their fight so will be interesting to see if Glover looks to use the same game plan he adopted against Rampage in which he was able to strip away Rampage’s striking power by taking him down five times. Let’s not forget though that Rampage and Jones’s wrestling skills are at polar opposites.

Glover is known for his power punches and his coaches claim to never have seen power like it in the gym (although it would be crazy if they said anything differently really). Although when the strikes do come Jones has a higher landing accuracy than the challenger but more importantly is able to absorb less strikes than Glover. Machida was able to land more strikes on Jones than anyone up until his last fight and as we all know Machida is an expert at moving and utilising speed to his advantage. Glover seems to be a little heavy on his feet which I think could play to the champions advantage and I will be very interested to see what kind of shape Glover is coming into this one. If Glover does want to play the striking game and look to trade on the feet with Jones I really don’t see him lasting more than a couple of rounds as Jones has a serious speed advantage over him and with the range he has I think he will be able to pick apart Glover with ease. I think that Glover needs to run down and press Jones from the opening bell if he wants to adapt that game plan and get hold of Jones up against the cage.

In my opinion the longer this fight goes the more chance Jones has of winning it. In 24 professional fights to date Glover has only been the full fifteen minutes on four occasions, the last of which was back in January 2013 against Quinton “Rampage” Jackson. I have absolutely no doubt that Glover has been training hard for a full 25 minute stint but training and the real thing are completely different and you have to give the advantage to Jones should the fight tip into the championship rounds. Looking at the stats Jones has an average fight time of 11:18 compared to Glovers 5:08 which only really tells us that Glover likes to finish fights early.

Glover’s last fight against Bader headlined the UFC Fight Night show and I think that the whole experience of headlining a fight prior to this one will definitely have helped the challenger as we approach fight week. Any main event fighter is immediately in the spotlight from the moment that the fight is announced to the time that they walk into the octagon and that additional pressure can certainly play a huge part in the fighters preparation and mental approach as they get to the fight. Glover was able to handle himself very well in his first main event fight against Ryan Bader and seemed to deal with the media attention and additional spotlight with ease, no doubt he was given tips from Chuck Liddell. A PPV headline fight is very different to a Fight Night main event as the UFC are looking to sell the fights to the fans, both hardcore and common.

For me this fight ultimately comes down to whether or not Glover can get his power shots to land and if so there is absolutely every chance that he will be leaving Baltimore with the gold. I think that if the fight drags into the latter rounds then it will be very challenging for Glover to beat the champion. Jones has the better all-round game and is a modern day martial artist, whereas Glover is more of a boxer but possesses great skills including holding a black belt in BJJ. It is certainly an intriguing fight and one which I think stands the test of main event status, compared to some title fights in recent months. As with all MMA bouts when two fighters at the top of their games get inside the octagon the reality is that the fight can go either way. One punch can really end it all. And on Saturday night we will get to find out whether Glover can dethrone Jones.

The next Contender or Pretender article will look at TJ Dillashaw’s chances against Bantamweight Champion Renan Barao in a fight which goes down at UFC 173. Keep your eyes peeled to and follow us on twitter @whoatv and @mmanarchy.

Photo: Getty Images
Photo: Getty Images

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