UFC on ESPN: Smith vs. Teixeira - Predictions and Picks
- The UFC presents a rare Wednesday night card a week from today - here are the predictions for all of the fights on tap.
- Anthony Smith vs. Glover Teixeira headlines the card from Jacksonville, Florida.
You have to go back quite a while now, to July 2016, to find the last time that the UFC presented a show during the middle of the week.
But naturally, the Covid-19 pandemic has caused unprecedented disruption to the schedule of all sports. In their attempts to catch up, this Wednesday now sees the UFC’s 9th show on ESPN take place from Jacksonville, Florida.
It’s a largely thrown-together card, with fights pulled from a number of other UFC shows that have been postponed, but with some interesting matches on tap, it appears to be worth watching.
Here are the predicted outcomes for UFC on ESPN: Smith vs. Teixeira.
#1 Light-Heavyweight: Anthony Smith vs. Glover Teixeira
These two former title challengers were all set to headline the canceled April 25th show, so it’s no surprise to see them in the main event slot here. Both men are coming off wins, and while neither is likely to challenge Jon Jones again anytime soon, a victory would be pretty important for either man.
Glover Teixeira is actually on a three-fight winning streak, but how impressive that streak is could be debatable. Both Karl Roberson and Ion Cutelaba had him in big trouble before he rallied to submit them, while his split decision win over Nikita Krylov could easily have gone in the opposite direction.
The truth is that the Brazilian probably peaked about 5 or 6 years ago. The skills that got him to the top are still intact in that he’s a tremendous grappler and submission threat from top position and he throws incredibly heavy strikes. But, at 40 years old, he’s notably slower than he once was and is less durable, too.
His 2018 loss to Corey Anderson was particularly alarming; a developing striker, Anderson comfortably outboxed Teixeira by virtue of his speed alone, and was also able to land a number of takedowns on the Brazilian veteran.
Essentially, Teixeira is a very dangerous opponent for anyone, but his advanced age and the wear-and-tear he’s endured make him a beatable opponent, too.
Anthony Smith, on the other hand, is a truly fascinating case to look at. A career journeyman for the most part, ‘Lionheart’ was middling at best as a 185lber, but once he moved to 205lbs in 2018, his career came on in leaps and bounds.
One-sided wins over veterans Rashad Evans and Mauricio Rua gave him enough momentum to leap into the conscience of the fans, but it was his gutsy win over Volkan Oezdemir that marked him out as a genuine title threat. Sure, he was comfortably beaten by Jones in his title challenge, but a win last summer over Alexander Gustafsson proved to be a real eye-opener in terms of his true potential.
Smith is a huge, rangy 205lber, and at 31 years old, it’s likely he’s now in his fighting prime. Offensively, he’s fantastic, able to catch his opponents off guard with huge strikes from range and from inside the clinch, and he’s also a capable grappler, as we saw when he choked out both Oezdemir and Gustafsson.
In terms of weaknesses, historically, ‘Lionheart’ was not the most durable fighter; he’s been stopped by strikes eight times and has also been submitted on four occasions, but he was able to survive 25 minutes with Jones and looks more capable of weathering punishment at 205lbs. It may well have been that a big weight cut to 185lbs depleted him and made him more susceptible to strikes.
Five years ago, I’d have favored Teixeira in this one. His black belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and overall grappling pedigree put him ahead of Smith on the ground, and his heavy hands would appear to be more than a match for Smith’s more rangy style. However, despite his current win streak, it’s hard not to believe that the Brazilian is past his best these days.
Both Cutelaba and Roberson arguably hit harder than Smith, but I don’t feel like either man is as ruthless with a hurt opponent as ‘Lionheart’, and I see no reason why Smith wouldn’t be able to use his superior speed to catch Teixeira as those two were able to do.
Teixeira is incredibly tough – he’s only been TKO’d on three occasions before, with his only clean knockout loss coming to Anthony ‘Rumble’ Johnson – but everyone’s durability goes at some point and had Cutelaba been more measured, he could’ve put the Brazilian away last year.
I suspect that Smith – a calmer fighter than Cutelaba – will be more measured, and thus if he gets Teixeira hurt, which is highly likely, he should be able to pick up another hugely impressive victory.
The Pick: Smith via third-round TKO