Finally, finally, finally…Finally.

After 12 years, visa issues, multiple homes and years of beating down opponents, Brazilian native Glover Teixeira is finally getting his shot at the UFC light heavyweight title. The man many people feel is one of the most dangerously well-rounded fighters in the world will get his shot at Jon Jones’ belt this Saturday night when the two men headline UFC 172 live from the Baltimore Arena in Baltimore.

Teixeira is coming off a 20-fight winning streak which started back in 2006 at WEC 20. At the time, he was 2-2 before winning his fifth fight. Since then, nobody has been able to get close to slowing him down. Now 34 years old, Teixeira is 22-2 with 13 knockouts and six submissions. His five-fight run in the UFC includes stoppages of Ryan Bader, James Te Huna and Fabio Maldonado, in a fight that earned him 2012’s “Beatdown of the Year.” However, Jones is unlike any opponent he has ever faced.

At just 26 years old, there is no rise to the top for the phenom Jon Jones. He is very much already there. Jones has run through most of the top 205-pound fighters in the world, including notable stoppages of Lyoto Machida, Vitor Belfort and Mauricio “Shogun” Rua. He became the youngest UFC titleholder in history, and he only has one loss, which was the result of a disqualification, so he has never truly been beaten. Like his elder opponent, Jones is dangerous anywhere the fight may go, but his last fight against Alexander Gustafsson was the second time he nearly lost his title in his last three fights. The other time was a year prior, when he almost got tapped out by Belfort, who could’ve finished the fight had he not released an armbar too early.

This fight has been a long time coming. Teixeira has long been considered one of best light heavyweights in the world. Until now, Jones has proven that he is the best, even though a lot of folks feel the judges should’ve given the last fight to Gustafsson. That may all change this Saturday night.

The UFC makes its Baltimore debut as UFC 172 brings the most highly anticipated title fight of the year to the Octagon. Let’s take a deeper look at the match-up, and as a reminder, this is a side-by-side comparison of how the fighters’ skills match up against one another using similar scoring to the unified rules.

Striking: Jones – 10, Teixeira – 10

Both of theses guys are amazing strikers, but in very different ways.

Jones is the laser-like technician of the two. He throws creative strikes, like his patented spinning elbow or his jab kick to the knee, and his accuracy is impressively just above the .500 mark. Jones is also the rangier fighter with a whopping eight-and-a-half-inch reach advantage. It’s not so much his power that knocks out his opponents as it is his propensity to hit them right on the button. However, Teixeira’s sole stoppage loss was a TKO in his first-ever pro fight in 2002, so Jones is not exactly facing a guy that’s easy to tag.

Teixeira is a machine on his feet. He’s powerful as hell, lands a higher volume of strikes than Jones, and presses his opponents like nobody Jones has ever faced. Most importantly, he can take some hard shots and look relatively unfazed. Although Jones may have a couple moves that do a lot of damage to his opponents, none of them is as powerful as Teixeira’s right hand, which is so effective that it doesn’t really matter where it lands. If his right hand touches Jones’ face, it could cause an instant nap for the young champ.

Jones’ fight with Gustafsson revealed some serious issues with his striking game. The most iconic picture from that fight was Gustafsson next to Jones as the battered champ was on his way to a hospital room. Jones may have been a tough striker thus far, but Teixeira hits way harder than Gustafsson and he fights like a rabid bulldog.

On the feet, this is barely a tie. Teixeira is a mean striker, but Jones’ past performance speaks for itself.

Submission Grappling: Jones – 9, Teixeira – 10

Jones exposed an even bigger weakness in his fight with Belfort when he would have lost had Belfort just hung on for the arm break. The champ wasn’t going to tap, so the Brazilian thought he didn’t have the armbar deep enough, even though he did. Jones never really trained formally in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, and most of his groundwork has clearly been attributed to his junior college wrestling days. As far as submissions go, most of his finishes have been by guillotine choke, which is pretty easy to sink in when his opponents gravely underestimate the ease of the move when he has a reach advantage north of eight inches in most of his fights.

Teixeira is a second-degree BJJ black belt under Luigi Mondelli and has competed extensively in submission grappling tournaments during his MMA career. In 2009, he won the Brazilian ADCC Trials, and in 2011, he took second place. In MMA, Teixeira has won by a variety of chokes, but neither man has ever been stopped by submission, so it is unlikely the fight will get to that point.

The only way either of these guys will earn a submission victory is if the move gets set up by a devastating knockdown. Based on past performances, that is more likely to happen to Jones than Teixeira. With the more formal BJJ training and a recent history of success in tournaments, Teixeira gets the nod in this department.

Wrestling: Jones – 10, Teixeira – 10

In submission grappling, Teixeira’s formal training and past experience in competition give him an upper hand. In wrestling, he has no formal experience, but Jones was an All-American in both high school and junior college. However, it’s not quite that simple.

In MMA, Teixeira’s wrestling is extremely effective. He has defended 100 percent of his opponents’ attempted takedowns in all of his UFC and WEC contests combined. Jones is pretty close, having suffered his sole UFC takedown in his last fight. These are two of the toughest guys in the world to get to the mat. As for completing takedowns of his own, Teixeira has more success, mostly due to his precision in this area. Jones throws some sloppy drag-downs, but he also threw Stephan Bonnar around the ring, including a suplex straight out of the WWE handbook, at UFC 94.

In the clinch, both men are very dangerous. Jones’ tall clinch sets up some nasty knees and elbows, whereas Teixiera’s clinch is more of a powerful dirty boxing style like that of Randy Couture. On the ground, both men are proficient at maintaining top control and positioning.

Wrestling is where Jones and Teixeira are most closely matched.

Speed: Jones – 10, Teixeira – 10

Jones is by far the faster fighter as far as delivering attacks. His spinning elbows and kicks come out of the middle of nowhere. He doesn’t sacrifice accuracy for speed either, making him that much more dangerous.

Teixeira’s speed is more reactive, but no less dangerous. He isn’t a bum-rush fighter and doesn’t get off his attacks as quickly as Jones, but his follow-ups are scary. If the Brazilian senses even an inkling of blood in the water, he attacks quickly and doesn’t allow any wiggle room for his opponents. Many fighters have this instinct, but only Cain Velasquez can get off as quickly as Teixeira.

The speed department is a toss-up. Both men are quick, but they choose to use their speed in different situations.

Aggressiveness: Jones – 9, Teixeira – 10

Nobody can really say that Jones isn’t an aggressive fighter. He hasn’t stopped so many world-class opponents by playing possum. However, Teixeira’s aggressiveness is off the charts. One of the aspects of his game that makes him so scary is that he presses and presses until his opponent folds, which has been the case for a very long time.

Jones is used to being the guy who is feared, but Teixeira is not going to give the champ any wiggle room. The one thing that seems to get Jones flustered is a lot of pressure, and Teixeira brings it the most.

This category could spell demise for Jones. If he tries to dance around the fight, he’s in for a big surprise. The Octagon is a cage, and Teixeira is a wild animal when that door closes.

X-factor

The x-factor in this fight is just that—an x-factor. The intangible fighting spirit that personifies Teixeira is the reason he carries a ton of hype. He has been around The Pit and American Top Team for a very long time, so, even though he got bounced from the U.S. fight scene for a while, he has always been training with some of the best guys around. It was only a matter of time before he got back to fighting on U.S. soil to debunk the idea that he is just a legend. He starts strong, stays strong and finishes strong, and as much of a phenom as Jones is, he has nothing to offer the Brazilian that hasn’t been seen before. Teixeira has seen tall guys, quick guys, good wrestlers, better submission grapplers and phenomenal strikers. This guy has been waiting patiently for way too long to let this one slip away, and that is a big problem for the champ.

Total: Jones – 48, Teixeira – 50

Verdict: Teixeira has been waiting a long time for this chance, and on Saturday night, Baltimore is going to become a serious pressure cooker for Jones. After his performances against Gustafsson and Belfort, the man who many felt was invincible showed some serious chinks in his armor. If there are any other weaknesses that have yet to be exposed, Teixeira is definitely the one to expose them.

If Jones’ coach, Greg Jackson, plays the strategy game, which seems to fester the longer his champs hold their belts, Jones will try to maintain distance, overutilize his jab kicks to the knee and use his length to outpoint the Brazilian. However, Teixeira is here for one reason and one reason only: to stop Jones and steal that strap. Teixeira is the best candidate to complete this task, and he will use his well-rounded skill set, his power and his aggressiveness to push the champ, beat him up and finish him before the championship rounds.

Teixeira by second-round TKO to become the new UFC light heavyweight champion.

About The Author

Dan Kuhl
Interview Coordinator