An intriguing match-up takes place in the light heavyweight division as rising contender Glover Teixeira (20/2) tangles with Kiwi standout James Te-Huna (16/5).
The Brazilian bomber had been expected to face Ultimate Fighter season eight winner Ryan Bader until injury forced him to withdraw from the card, setting up a clash with Te-Huna that is certain to deliver explosive action, however long the contest may last.
Teixeira’s reputation as ‘the next big thing’ at 205lbs has proven justified thus far, as he has dominated and dispatched all three of his UFC opponents in impressive fashion, most recently besting former Pride and UFC light heavyweight champion Quinton “Rampage” Jackson.
His upcoming rival, Te-Huna has also looked impressive of late, the victor in four of his last five outings, his sole loss in the octagon coming to top ranked Swede, Alexander Gustafsson and credit should be given to the New Zealander for stepping up to face an opponent it has been reported many a fighter is actively avoiding.
Fight Breakdown – The announcement of Teixeira’s change in opponent was greeted by many with derision and disappointment due to the UFC’s failure to match him with a more esteemed and recognized replacement and so Teixeira justifiably starts as the heavy favorite, having not lost in over eight years and finishing more than half his fights by way of knockout. But in Te-Huna he faces a formidable striker with equally sharp finishing instincts and who could prove a lively underdog if taken lightly by the Team Pit trained knockout artist.
Equally adept in both striking and grappling, the thirty three year old Teixeira has shown his versatility and well-rounded game throughout a career that spans beyond a decade. This experience could prove a key factor in allowing him to both vary and dictate where the contest takes place, demonstrated by his submission of Kyle Kingsbury upon his UFC debut and thorough beatdown of former undefeated boxer Fabio Maldonado due to doctors stoppage back at UFC 153.
If Teixeira can continue to seamlessly combine his highly evolved skill-set and keep his opponent on the back foot, he will be able to dominate and create opportunities to finish the fight in a myriad of ways, boasting an edge on the feet and a marked advantage on the ground.
Teixeira silenced the few remaining doubters with his dismantling of “Rampage” and although Te-Huna is viewed as a step down in competition, it is in reality more of a drop in name value. “Rampage” remains dangerous but is far from the Pride legend of yesteryear, while Te-Huna is a driven young fighter on an upward curve, who will be intent on gaining the notoriety of his esteemed opponent.
The Antipodean has proven himself to be extremely durable and difficult to finish, having never been knocked out and has displayed a steady improvement in his grappling throughout his run in the UFC, notably showing miraculous powers of recovery after being caught flush by a head kick against Ryan Jimmo and going on to dominate the Canadian in all aspects of the contest en-route to a unanimous decision win.
Te-Huna will have to eradicate those mistakes that he has made in previous bouts as Teixeira is an altogether different animal but If he a can control the distance by striking from acute angles and effectively move out and back into range where he can utilize his dirty boxing to control in the clinch, he could unnerve and dishevel an opponent who is widely expected to win comfortably.
Why It Matters – Having waited for so long to make his mark in the UFC, Teixeira is a man on a mission and will not only intend to emerge victorious but produce a performance worthy of a champion incumbent. With Teixeira officially placed number five in the UFC rankings another virtuoso display could conceivably set up a number one contender match-up with a fellow big name rival. A win for Te-Huna on the other hand would represent a huge scalp in his career and set him firmly on course towards the upper reaches of the division where he would most certainly now belong.
Prediction – I foresee a more competitive match up then many expect with Te-Huna most certainly capable of landing a ‘lights out’ shot but ultimately I expect the more diverse arsenal of weapons that Teixeira possesses to make the difference and for him to continue his impressive winning streak in decisive fashion.
Teixeira by second round TKO.