UFC 160 Saturday, May 25, 2013 Light Heavyweights: Glover Teixeira vs. James Te-Huna Big Picture: We’ve got two light heavyweights on impressive win streaks anchoring the middle of the main card. This could be fight of the night material in the making if it weren’t for an otherwise stacked fight card at UFC 160. Hype is strong for both fighters, but the buzz behind #4 ranked Glover Teixeira is among the loudest in the UFC. And it’s hard to argue with an 18-fight win streak and no losses since 2005. While we haven’t seen flashy highlight reel moves that defined Jon Jones’ climb towards the 205-pound title, we have seen a fundamentally sound Teixeira look dominant in beating some competent veterans at their own games. Outgunning Rampage Jackson topped off his first three UFC wins, and to date he has not shown many holes in his long awaited career in the Octagon. It’s certainly possible that a win over Te-Huna could put Teixeira one win away from title contention. But James Te-Huna is on a 4-win streak looking for top 10 status of his own. So far his accurate hands have gotten him past all UFC opponents except #2 ranked Alexander Gustafsson. In a matchup of excellent strikers, this fight will push one up into a potential title eliminator match, so it’s definitely worth diving through the stats to see how these two match up. Summary Stats:
Tale of Tape Matchup: These are both big boys that pack power. Both are over the age of 30, but neither has a significant size advantage. So without any clear hints from the tale of the tape, we’ll dig a little deeper. Standup Game: Despite both guys logging some impressive striking displays, there are clear differences in their performance profiles. Teixeira is more likely to control the cage and the pace of standup action, with striking accuracy that is above average and solid knockdown power. James Te-Huna is also accurate, and even more so with his power hand, though he tends to use it less often. He also more of a counter-striker, which favors landing power strikes but can take some power off the impact. On defense Te-Huna has the edge in avoiding strikes, but when hit, he is much more likely to be knocked down. Teixeira has yet to be knocked down despite going to head to head with Rampage Jackson and former pro boxer Fabio Maldonado, while Te-Huna has already been dropped three times during fights – which is more knockdowns than he’s scored himself. In terms of overall striking pace, Teixeira again gets the edge by averaging a fast pace of over 14 significant strike attempts per minute compared to Te-Huna’s 8.4 attempts. So while both fighters can do damage if they can connect, it looks like Teixeira has an edge in terms of pace, control, and power. Ground Game: On the ground both fighters have had some success, each tending to control their opponents. But Teixeira has been flawless in ground control, with perfect takedown defense and not once ending up on his back in scrambles. Te-Huna tends to attempt takedowns more frequently, but his success rate is actually below average while his defense is slightly better. Should this fight go to ground, it will be Glover Teixeira who will more than likely be the one to be in control. Throw in his BJJ black belt in high level submission grappling competitions, and Glover’s key to victory could be on the mat. Fight Prediction: It will be interesting to see how the first striking exchanges go, but expect Teixeira to be the one pressing the attack. Te-Huna is most dangerous with a counter-strike, but if he does manage to hurt Teixeira, it’s Glover who will decide when the fight hits the ground. Once there he may grind down Te-Huna to diminish his gas tank or go for submissions. To date, each of Te-Huna’s only real losses were by submission. Overall that makes Te-Huna the more vulnerable fighter, while Teixeira is the more durable and dangerous one. That all bodes well for a Teixeira win, but Te-Huna has grown more resilient with experience so I’m not totally convinced of a finish. Reed’s Pick: Teixeira by submission (click for latest MMA odds) Reed’s Recommended Play: Teixeira is currently running a -280 favorite, which is a lot of juice for a high-potential but unpredictable fighter who is facing a strong underdog striker. Teixeira inside the distance at -135 makes a much fairer play, as Teixeira has a lot of tools to finish. My only hesitation is that these guys have both gassed in the past, so wait until weigh-ins to see how they look before considering Teixeira’s finish prop or an underdog pick. Use Teixeira for the win straight up or in conservative parlays, or Teixeira inside the distance in a round robin.