What does it take to get a title shot in the UFC?

Ryan Bader made it onto the eighth installment of The Ultimate Fighter reality show in 2008, after riding a 22-month, seven-fight winning streak to open his professional career.  Bader managed to win the show, and upon entering the promotion, managed to ride that streak out to 12 wins, before losing a title eliminator to Jon Jones.  His final win, over Antonio Rogerio Nogueira, was his only top-10 challenge prior to Jones.

On Wednesday night, the Octagon returns to Belo Horizonte, Brazil, for UFC Fight Night 28, and Bader will be facing a man who is in a similar position to what he was in during his Nogueira fight three years ago.

Brazilian native Glover Teixeira is something of a legend.  Living in the United States since he was 20 years old, the 33-year-old began fighting professionally in 2002.  Eventually being invited to join The Pit, home to UFC Hall of Famer Chuck Liddell, Teixeira’s career quickly took off, but due to visa issues, it was not until last year that he was able to fight under the UFC banner.

In his first four Octagon battles, Teixeira finished Kyle Kingsbury, Fabio Maldonado and James Te Huna, and won a decision over Quinton “Rampage” Jackson.  Some critics feel that this resume doesn’t qualify the Brazilian for a UFC title shot, but most people know that he deserves his chance.  The promotion’s matchmakers have decided that a bout with Bader will settle the argument once and for all.

In the main event of the evening, 15-3 Ryan Bader will face off against 21-2 Glover Teixeira in what could lead to a title shot for the winner.  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: Teixeira – 10, Bader – 9

Bader possesses a tremendous striking game, as many wrestlers do.  With six knockouts under his belt, he has shown powerful hands, aggression, and can hang with most of the top-10 guys in the division.  He is a frontal, top-heavy fighter, who relies on his right hand, more than his angles, lateral movement or kicks. However, in his loss to Lyoto Machida last year, he also showcased a reckless abandon that is a big weakness for a guy whose striking isn’t what one would call “slick” by any means.  This could pose big problems against a guy like Teixeira.

Teixeira is not the prototypical Brazilian MMA fighter, and his time training with Liddell always shows through. Between The Pit, Black House MMA, and now American Top Team,  Teixeira has always been a part of some of the best camps in the sport, and his already-phenomenal striking keeps getting better. The case could easily be made that his forward-pressing style is very close to Bader’s, and both men win most of their knockouts in ground-and-pound. However, Teixeira is much scarier.

In his 12 knockout wins, Teixeira has shown a relentless attack, whereas Bader is more of a quick-pop type of fighter. Bader comes in guns a’ blazing, and backs out of the exchange. Teixeira is a better counter-striker, and his attack is more persistent on the feet.

In the striking game, Teixeira holds the advantage, mostly due to the fact that his standing attack is more consistent.

Wrestling: Teixeira – 9, Bader – 10

Teixeira was a member of the Brazilian National Wrestling team, but he doesn’t have the formal background in training since he was a child, like most top American wrestlers do. However, he has shown time and time again that he is no slouch when it comes to controlling his opponents, whether in the clinch or on the ground. His takedown defense is great, but his wrestling-style takedowns are probably the weakest part of his game, even though they are still world-class from an MMA perspective. Bader’s takedowns are near the best in the division.

Bader is a lifelong wrestler. In high school, he won two state championships and was ranked in the top five nationally. At Arizona State University, he won three PAC-10 championships and was a two-time All-American. In the light heavyweight division of the UFC, Bader’s wrestling is second-to-none. His top control is beast-like, his clinch game is powerful, and his power double-leg takedown is nearly unstoppable. Teixeira may be a tough guy, but it will be even tougher for him to stop Bader’s takedowns, should the former Sun Devil choose to go that route.

Bader dominates the wrestling in this match-up, albeit slightly.

Submission Grappling: Teixeira – 10, Bader  – 9[/box_light]

Bader may be the dominant wrestler, but wrestling is not the be-all, end-all of ground fighting. As Royce Gracie taught the world, and Chael Sonnen found out the hard way, even the best wrestler on the planet is at risk of getting submitted on the ground. In this battle, the bet is on black.

Bader has a purple belt in BJJ and four wins by submission, but most of his submission grappling experience comes from MMA. This is not the case for Teixeira.

When the Brazilian finally decided he wanted to start fighting, he started to train in BJJ. Now a second-degree black belt, he holds first- and second-place finishes at the Abu Dhabi Combat Club submission grappling trials and is one of the highest-ranked BJJ black belts in the light heavyweight division. Teixeira has submitted six opponents in the MMA ring, mostly by chokes, and has never been submitted. Two of Bader’s three losses are by submission to Tito Ortiz and Jon Jones, neither of which have Teixeira’s level of BJJ training.

Bader may be able to get this one to the ground, but if the fight goes there, Teixeira will use his advantage in the BJJ department.

[alert type=white ]X-factor

Teixeira is the x-factor in every fight. After being unable to participate a the highest levels of the sport because of his visa problems, he’s ready to show the world what they have been missing. Many of his training partners for his entire career have had the opportunities he has not, but that’s the story of his life. Growing up in tremendous poverty, Teixeira has had to grind every day of his life to earn everything he has become, and he won’t stop with Bader. Teixeira is an animal in the cage, and Bader, while being a world-class fighter in his own right, has had a tough run over the last two and a half years, going 3-3. Teixeira is hungry and mean, and he will stop at nothing to get his title shot.

Total: Teixeira – 29, Bader – 28

Verdict: The UFC matchmakers did a great job of putting this fight together. Teixiera has been bullying most of his opponents for years, but Bader is not one to be bullied, so this makes for an interesting match-up. Both men are powerful strikers, great wrestlers and submission-savvy, when the opportunity presents itself. However, at the end of the day, Teixeira is a force to be reckoned with and feels like he missed out on a lot of Octagon time. He knows he’s getting into his mid-30s and is on the express route to a shot at the UFC light heavyweight title. On Wednesday night, he will finish Bader to earn that shot in the next year.

Photo: Glover Teixeira (Esther Lin/MMA Fighting)

About The Author

Dan Kuhl
Interview Coordinator