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UFC Jacksonville: Smith vs. Teixeira - Preview of the Main Fights

Four days after its first pandemic event, UFC 249 , the world's largest MMA organization continues to try to make up for the hiatus with another card in Florida. 

The UFC Fight Night: Smith vs. Teixeira does not have names with the same weight as the protagonists of last Saturday 's pay per view , but he is expected to deliver some fun knockouts and submissions to fans who spend their Wednesday night to watch.

In the main event, a battle of ex-challengers between ascendant Anthony Smith and war veteran Glover Teixeira should bring the winner closer to a new belt dispute in the shallow light heavyweight division. The co-main event marks Ovince St. Preux's heavyweight debut , facing veteran “Big” Ben Rothwell . The card also features two good name contests between the lightweights, with Alexander Hernandez taking Drew Dober and Michael Johnson facing Brazilian Thiago Moisés to open the main card . 


Anthony “Lionheart” Smith (33-14 in MMA, 8-4 in the UFC) had an unlikely rise between light heavyweights in the UFC. The American, who was just a mediocre average weight, took advantage of the bad phase of the under 93kg category to climb a belt dispute after two brutal knockouts over the (decrepit) veterans “Shogun” Rua and Rashad Evans and a submission over the former challenger Volkan Oezdemir. In the dispute, he resisted more than expected against Jon Jones, but was defeated dominantly. To recover, he received the excellent Alexander Gustafsson, who also came from a chance for the belt, and won the biggest victory of his career by submitting the Swede in the fourth round.

Smith was never an elite fighter on the technical side, but he has a great talent for taking advantage of loopholes and defining power to capitalize on opportunities. “Lionheart” mixes moments of excessive aggression with intervals when waiting for the opponents' breaches. In the distance, he works straight punches in combination and some kicks, but prefers to fight in the reach of the clinch, where he finds space to hit good elbows and knees. The ability to keep your eyes open to find opportunities in the middle of the crossfire is also a virtue explored by the American.

The same opportunism is shown in the grappling fight, where the black belt in jiu-jitsu encounters unexpected bottlenecks, should the gaps arise. On the other hand, the defense is one of the most bumpy - whether standing or on the ground - and Smith is usually easy prey for more technical opponents in these areas, both for the takedowns, ground and pound and finishes and for the counterattacks on foot.

Glover Teixeira (30-7 in MMA, 13-5 in the UFC) arrived in the UFC as a great candidate for Jon Jones' belt, winning five dominant victories until he had the opportunity to be dominated by the champion. Since then, Glover has permeated the division's elite, winning top 10 names, but losing whenever he seeks to take higher flights. In recent years, it has shown a very sharp physical decline, even in the most recent victories.

Teixeira is one of the most complete fighters in the shallow category, compensating for the lack of speed with a lot of knockout power, especially in hook and cross strikes based on good head movement. With a gold medal in the South American stage of the ADCC, the biggest grappling competition in the world, Glover has an above average  grappling base , with a strong game on top, strong ground and pound and good chokes. The falls are good, but have been declining along with his physique, which can be a problem for Saturday's duel.
The Brazilian is technically superior in all areas of the game, and has the ability both to knock out with standing counterattacks and to knock down and work the game over the top in search of a submission. In the past few years, I would be crazy to bet on Anthony Smith beating Glover Teixeira. However, Glover, in his more than 40 years of age, no longer seems to have the physique to accompany younger athletes. He ends up giving many loopholes for not having the physical prowess to execute the techniques he proposes. So, the most likely thing is that we will see a knockout of Smith in the first half of the fight, after some good moments from the Brazilian, exploring some gap in the standing miner.


Stereotype of classic heavyweight physicist Ben Rothwell (37-12 in MMA, 7-6 in the UFC) owns heavy hands and a style that is difficult to explain. The American was never an impressive fighter, but he has already knocked out Alistair Overeem and submitted Josh Barnett, two high-profile fighters in striking and jiu-jitsu, respectively. In 2016, Rothwell had complications with USADA, and only returned to the octagon last year, embarrassing himself in regrettable performances against Blagoy Ivanov and Andrei Arlovski. In his last appearance, he defeated Stefan Struve in a match marked by low blows.

Ben is always the athlete who walks forward, but he does not strike often and, when he does, he uses singular strokes, endowed with power but without much technique and almost nothing of speed, being limited only to boxing. As he is a big heavyweight, Rothwell usually has an advantage in clinch disputes , where he shows decent dirty boxing . He is always a very tough opponent, he has above average absorption of blows - he was only knocked out in the debut against Cain Velasquez - and there is a certain movement, even if minimal. Since he is not an aggressive fighter, the recipe for beating Rothwell is to have a pace at least reasonable, which is usually enough to get the victory over him.

Ovince St.Preux (24-13 in MMA, 12-8 in the UFC) is an American son of Haitians, and came to MMA with an athletic background in wrestling and football. In the UFC, he had an irregular career, but always staying in the ranking , reaching some positive sequences - which yielded an interim title dispute - and also bitter setbacks. Currently, Ovince comes from a victory over Polish Michal Oleksiejczuk via submission, surprising with this unexpected rise for heavyweights.

A fighter who has good athleticism and knockout power, Ovince has considerable defensive problems that he has never managed to adjust in his career. Very rude, he does not have good technique, he often performs unorthodox striking movements and boxing does not excite, despite having good high kicks. As he is physically above average, he has an advantage in the clinch , however, now in the heavyweights, the situation is completely opposite and he should not have an easy time in this area. Jiu-jitsu is summed up by one term: Von Flue Choke . Ovince is a master in the position and manages to apply this choke easily and all the time, ending several opponents who have no idea how to defend themselves.
I don't think Ovince St. Preux is going to do well in heavyweights. Because he is a big and physically privileged light heavyweight, he often achieves victories with this, despite his limited technique. As heavy, he is no longer the biggest in the cage , he should not be the strongest, but he gains speed. Rothwell will certainly seek to take the fight to the grid and make an ugly game to try to take at least two rounds and win the decision. In this extremely curious marriage, I believe that St.Preux manages to move enough to prevent Rothwell's advances and win a unanimous decision in an unpleasant duel.


Alexander Hernandez (11-2 in MMA, 3-1 in the UFC) has been a pleasant surprise at the biggest event on the planet. He debuted at the last minute against the then ranked Beneil Dariush: he won by knockout in less than a minute and he also got a performance bonus of the night. He then defeated Olivier Aubin-Mercier and boarded the hype train for a fight against veteran Donald Cerrone.

The trip was turbulent and the knockout suffered in the second round showed that Hernandez is not yet ready to reach the final season. The recent victory over Francisco Massaranduba kept the Texan in the ranking of fighters up to 70 kg.

“The Great” is a fighter with many strengths: he is very athletic, explosive, likes to shorten the distance in order to use his powerful right-wing strokes, he usually moves around a lot and uses kicks a lot to score. He feels very difficult when he is pressed (Massaranduba, so to speak) and leaves many spaces in his guard.

Drew Dober (22-9 in MMA, 8-5 in the UFC) had a very irregular cartel in the UFC and it didn't look like he would still have a long life within the organization. But since the fight against Josh Burkman, the tide has turned, good performances have come and become regular: victories over Frank Camacho and Jon Tuck have Dober cast in a fight against Beneil Dariush.

The defeat for the Syrian, who came with a good performance, showed that the Elevation Fight Team athlete could still show more, and two other hard-hitting victories against Polo Reyes and Nasrat Haqparast brought Drew closer to the ranking. Dober is an athlete from kickboxing , who has good low kicks and powerful combinations of strokes, and usually presses opponents.

His offensive wrestling is decent and has been well used, while defensive wrestling has always been bumpy, since it was there that Dariush took the opportunity to turn the fight that, until then, he had quietly lost. Physical fitness is currently unknown, as it has been almost two years since Drew has fought more than a round and a half. So it will be interesting to see how he will behave if the fight goes on a little longer.
The duel this Wednesday promises to be lively. The two athletes must have a very busy fight, with good exchanges of blows and a lot of movement. The bet here is that Drew Dober uses the same standing pressure game used by Massaranduba only with more vitality, more blows and more speed and with his kickboxing he gets a knockout in the second round .


Ricky Simón (15-3 in MMA, 3-2 in the UFC) arrived in the UFC with remarkable performances against opponents of good level, quickly conquering a position in the category ranking after the victory over the veteran Brazilian grappler Rani Yahya. However, he faces his first career losing streak after being knocked out in Urijah Faber's “retirement” and having a tough fight against Rob Font.

In his debut in the organization, he conquered a spectacular turn against the extremely tough wrestler Merab Dvalishvili, showing a great sense of opportunism when fitting a guillotine in the final seconds of the fight. In the next fight, against one of the tallest strikers in the category, he was able to enter the opponent's range of action by shortening the distance and getting punctual falls to win the fight with a loose decision. Already against Rani Yahya, he demonstrated a great fall defense typical of wrestling fighters and won the striking battle with ease to close the sequence of three victories.

The first defeat in the UFC came in the opportunity to star in one of the main fights of the event held in Sacramento, home of Urijah Faber, historic fighter of the category and who returned to the sport after two and a half years of retirement. At the time, Simón even had an interesting start, taking advantage of his opponent's speed advantage and lack of pace. However, it demonstrated a common flaw among young fighters: striking defense still leaves many spaces to be settled. This considering that Faber has as an important blow almost exclusively the right overhand that hit Simón in the face. Against Font, an opponent with a good level of boxing and fast hands, again ended up betrayed by the defensive system.

Ray Borg (13-4 in MMA, 7-4 in the UFC) seeks his third consecutive victory to definitively resume his path until he was early raised to a flyweight belt fight against Demetrious Johnson. After being defeated in the fight, Borg ended up surrounded by misfortunes, with several canceled appointments and a personal drama with his son, who needed several surgical procedures in the first months of his life, even making it difficult to concentrate for the native Albuquerque fighter to succeed. train with constancy.

When he returned to the octagon, 18 months after the dispute against Johnson, he did it in the bantamweight (not reaching the limit of the category, inclusive) and ended up defeated by Casey Kenney, appearing to feel very much the lack of rhythm and difference in physical strength. The recovery came against Gabriel Silva, but experiencing much more difficulties than expected. Against Rogério Bontorin, again the failure to try to reach the weight, but now in the flyweight category, which brings Borg back to the bantamweight for Saturday's duel.

The last performance gave hope of returning to the best form of the "Tazmexican Devil". Borg has always been more successful with an aggressive game in grappling , shining in scrambles and with great defensive sense on the ground. The game of boxing is good and natural enough to guarantee a good volume of actions even against opponents of good level. Physical strength and good stamina are also part of the arsenal when the preparation is well done, but the migration to the bantamweight should take some advantage of strength that usually has on the opponents.
For Saturday's duel, the key to victory for both lies in the ability to dictate where the duel should take place. Simon will have the advantage of physical strength and perhaps even agility. Borg will probably seek the solo game more hard to work where he feels more comfortable.

The tendency, however, is that Simon should be able to keep clear, controlling the distance with movement, going in and out to strike his opponent and eventually even looking for takedowns at the end of the rounds to ensure a scoring advantage, to come out victorious at the end of three intense assaults.