UFC Fight Night 28 September 4, 2013 Light Heavyweights: Glover Teixeira vs. Ryan Bader By Reed Kuhn, @Fightnomics Big Picture: The main event from Brazil at UFC Fight Night 28 features #2 ranked light heavyweight Glover Teixeira versus un-ranked Ryan Bader. Teixeira was a late bloomer in MMA, he’s only four fights into his UFC career while already pushing the age of 34. Bader won TUF Season 8 at the age of 25, then went on a tear through the division until he became the last fighter to succumb to Jon Jones before Jones became the new (and current) champion. The loss to Jones began a new career phase for Bader that would see him go 3-3 over his last six fights, with stoppages in all three losses. Bader has been facing big-name talent over the last few years, but has always fallen just short of contender status. Teixeira on the other hand, has been labeled a future contender despite not having faced “top 10” talent, which won’t change in this matchup. It’s an odd fight to make for a division searching for a new clear contender, but we’ll break it down here nonetheless. The betting line favors Teixeira big at -440, with the underdog Bader at +350. The over of 1.5 rounds is -130, and the under is +100 for this five round fight. Let’s take a look at the stats and see if we can’t find value in those lines. Summary Stats:
Tale of Tape Matchup: Both fighters are now over 30, but not yet over 35 or with too many knockouts notched in their skulls. Both fighters are orthodox, but Teixeira will have a two-inch reach advantage. Though Bader is the true “veteran” of the Octagon here, he has not led a UFC event. Teixeira has been in the spotlight since entering the UFC, and has had plenty of main card experience, including a co-main event fight against Rampage Jackson. Overall the biggest takeaway here is Teixeira’s slight size advantage and favorable Brazilian crowd. Striking Matchup: A quick look at the numbers reveals that Teixeira is a very sharp striker. Having out-boxed former pro-boxer Fabio Maldonado to the point of corner stoppage, as well as a 3-round pick apart of Rampage Jackson, Teixeira has demonstrated excellent speed, precision and power for a big man. Having faced several stout chins in the past allowed him time to work and demonstrate these skills at a very high pace of output, even if perhaps it deflated his knockdown power metric. Bader’s stats come in right about average for pace, and below average in accuracy. His bright spots are his power and his defense. Bader’s knockdown rate is impressively more than twice the division average, meaning that when he does land on target, he has the power to make it count. Unfortunately, landing on target doesn’t happen often. Defensively Bader has been better than average at avoiding strikes, but has also been dropped a few times. Teixeira’s strike avoidance is about average, but he has yet to be floored. Overall the standup advantage has to go to Teixeira. He has the skills and size to make standing and trading an uncomfortable place to be for anyone, and Bader has been rocked before. Add to that the favorable crowd response for strikes by Teixeira and the longer this fight stays standing, the worse it will be for Bader. Grappling Matchup: While both fighters have good ground credentials, the difference will be Teixeira’s submission game versus Bader’s wrestling. Bader has attempted takedowns early and often, but with a success rate that is exactly average. While Teixeira has had better success taking fighters to the mat, the more important metric might be his perfect takedown defense to date. Granted, it’s a small sample size, but there’s a reasonable chance that it will be Teixeira in top control if the fight hits the ground. Once on the ground Teixeira has a full array of offensive weapons, while Bader as a wrestler will be more vulnerable on his back. Given the five round nature of this fight, a wrestling based neutralization of Teixeira will be hard to pull off in the long-run. Reed’s Pick: Teixeira Inside the Distance Reed’s Recommended Play: It’s hard not to favor Teixeira here. And with a five round fight, it’s likely to end inside the distance. A straight up play will cost a lot of juice at -440. Bader clearly has the power to offer a puncher’s chance, which makes a straight up play on Teixeira risky. But Teixeira inside the distance is -240, which is a reasonable expectation given Teixeira’s finishing history, the large weight class, and the extra rounds. If the juice on Teixeira is too much, consider a play on “Fight Doesn’t Go the Distance” at -425, which hedges the possibility that Bader might have the better conditioning and can land a big punch late in the fight. Throw that prop into parlays elsewhere on the card or in round robins.