Glover Teixeira is looking to shock the Swedish crowd, and if he does, his biggest UFC victory could get him back into the title contention.
When Glover Teixeira lost in 13 seconds to Anthony Johnson, it appeared as if the Brazilian’s window to win the UFC world championship had closed at the same time.
He possesses knockout power and is among the best grapplers in the division, but at times has appeared too slow and plodding compared to the next generation of athletes that are breaking through in the UFC.
But through consistency and tenacity, he has found himself back in contention for a title shot with the absence of Johnson from MMA.
Teixeira is 4-1 in his last five, the only loss coming to Johnson. More importantly, his bout with Alexander Gustafsson comes at a time when the winner would be on the short list for the next shot at the UFC title.
Jon Jones and Daniel Cormier will meet for the title in July, but the division remains thin after that. Knockout artist Jimi Manuwa is waiting in the wings but doesn’t carry the name value that Teixeira or Gustafsson do.
The winner of the main event in Stockholm could propel themselves to a title shot with a win or at the very least a title eliminator against Manuwa.
For Teixeria, such an opportunity did not exist prior to UFC 210. With “Rumble” gone from MMA, the division is now thinner with talent as a new elite contender has yet to emerge. The Brazilian is a stalwart at 205, and he displayed his veteran savvy in dispatching the impressive Jared Cannonier earlier this year.
Whether a victory materialises in a title shot may be dependent on who walks away with the belt in July. Teixeira lost a five round decision to Jones in 2014. He has yet to fight Cormier although the light-heavyweight champion has expressed interest in a bout with Englishman Manuwa. Should Teixeira dispatch Gustaffson in impressive fashion, however, it would be hard to deny that he remains among the elite at 205 and deserving of a shot at the belt.
To win, it’s imperative that he comes forward and cuts off the cage early against Gustafsson. He opened the fight in similar fashion against Johnson and should look to do the same. The Swede simply does not possess the same power as “Rumble” and Teixeira needs to put pressure early. Putting Gustafsson against the cage will take away “The Mauler’s” footwork as he will only be able to circle in two directions or into the power of Teixeira.
Also, against the cage, Teixeira can initiate the clinch and put his weight on Gustafsson to slow him down. The more he can tax the Swede against the fence, the more exhausted he will be in the later rounds. More importantly, he can work to get Gustafsson to the mat where he has a distinct grappling advantage. “The Mauler” hasn’t shown an impressive guard off his back and the fight bodes well for the Brazilian the longer it is on the mat.
Teixeira has long been criticised that he has benefitted from the promotional assistance of the UFC rather than the skills he has shown. The fact remains he stylistically is among the most multi-faceted fighters in the division and among its most tenacious. If he is able to silence the Stockholm crowd and finish their native son, it would be arguably the biggest win in his career and the one that propels him back into title contention.