OSP looks to beat the former title contender in order to become one himself this August 8, 2015 at the Bridgestone Arena in Nashville, Tennessee.
Ovince St. Preux
One Sentence Summary:
Phil: Another of the lost darlings of MMA hipsterdom takes one last crack at relevance against a man with NFL Level Athleticism(TM)
David: Two guys compete for the gold left behind from the ghost of Bones' past.
History / Introduction to the fighters
David: Teixeira began his career as a hushed tone. Everyone knew him nominally as this major badass out of Chuck Liddell's camp, but visa issues kept him out. He came into the UFC and became the wrecking machine we heard he would be. However, he's coming off back to back losses, which makes you wonder how his career might have gone if he had never had trouble coming into the UFC.
Phil: It's a worrying situation where you're not sure whether his performance against Jones (a fight which is unfairly and inaccurately labelled as a shut-out in favour of the far more interesting Gustafsson and Cormier bouts) was the last flare of what could have been a great career if not for the vagaries of US border control.
David: OSP had a pretty terrible start to his career, which is kind of fitting for a guy with no experience. He began developing until getting signed by Strikeforce fairly early in his career, and continued developing until before we knew it, was fighting Gegard Mousasi and Mauricio Rua. I don't know what his future looks like at LHW, but he has one. He gets overlooked because people think he's the sum of his "explosiveness", but nothing could be further from the truth.
Phil: OSP's development has been slow due to a number of factors: increased visibility (we've basically watched him grow from nothing), not much of a combat sports background, and a lack of a truly elite camp. The pieces are all there, but at 32 years old the clock is ticking. Or could be. Imagine if OSP is still as relatively athletically stable at 38 as Yoel Romero is?
What are the stakes?
David: TBD. I don't know if the UFC even knows what to do with OSP. Teixeira is that kind of aging fighter you don't really want to take the risk of having him fight for the title, nor killing all the younglings. A Teixeira loss puts him on an endless loop of main card openers whereas a win makes it slightly more interesting but probably not ideal for him.
Phil: I think most people are hoping that OSP wins this one. Teixeira is a super-nice guy, but "new blood" (again, OSP is 32) in the proverbial mix at 205lbs would be nice. Not that I have any real faith that OSP could beat any of the upper echelon unless he shows us something really special.
Where do they want it?
David: OSP is an interesting take on the athleticism narrative. We're so used to saying "oh well if only he was technical he could be great" that the royal we have forgotten the relationship between the two. As Patrick Wyman pointed out, OSP has the instincts of a counterpuncher. He's 32 but only got into MMA in 2008. Being able to counterpunch takes much longer to master, so his deficiencies have more to do with evolving and adapting his style than they do some lazy "he's so athletic and explosive but not deliberate or intelligent" narrative. He's a solid striker, but I think his real strength is on the ground where he can move seamlessly from position to submission. I always bring up that moment when he had mount for a few seconds on Gegard Mousasi but only because it accurately reflects how quick is mind moves on the ground. Defensively, that's another issue.
Phil: I think OSP has naturally moved over to a counterpunching style because he's such a finisher at heart. He's naturally one of those guys who develops a killshot technique, and instead of supplementing it with a jab or other fundamentals, just moves onto another technique which finishes the opponent if successful. This lends itself to countering because the safest time to throw power is after an opponent has missed. The idea of reaching into a grab bag of five-finger-death strikes and vulcan nerve pinches and throwing whatever comes to hand isn't actually a bad approach, and it's one which brings its own particular brand of pressure to bear, but it's hard to make stable. It's also worth noting that OSP has increasingly been proving himself to be a really hard hitter.
David: Glover is the quintessential wrecking machine of close quarter violence (one of the many reasons why I think Jon Jones' win over him was all the more impressive). He has ridiculous power in his short hooks, and times them well at range in addition. The only problem with Glover is that in his quest to land punches, punches find him. His defense is lacking, precisely because part of his timing relies on baiting out strikes with an open guard.
Phil: Glover is thought of as a bit of a throwback, but his game is both advanced and simple. Advanced in that he's a reactive pocket boxer who generally counters over the jab, and that the distance he generally fights at hasn't really been "popular" until recent years. Simple in that... well, there isn't that much to it, on the feet at least. Without much of a distance game and with slow footspeed, Glover can get outworked.
He really shines when he can work his takedowns however. He's an underrated phase-shifter and offensive wrestler in general, with a very powerful top game and very, very good submissions.
Insight from Past fights?
Phil: Both of these guys have been gotten to by more powerful wrestlers. Bader took OSP down repeatedly, and Teixeira struggled badly against Phil Davis. Both OSP and Glover have great top games, so it's probably going to be key who can hit the first takedown.
David: The question then is who has a history of being able to better deal with it. You can look at a number of OSP fights to see he's a better scrambler, though this is by means to say he's a better grappler than Teixeira.
Phil: Glover's physical and mental state. I believe that Glover isn't now training with ATT or The Pit, and is instead back at home again, as he was before the Davis fight. Where he looked awful.
This is a concerning marker, because it's a common pattern among declining fighters who don't have their head in the game any more- they start training where they're most comfortable. Then they get soft, they pick up a few bad losses. Finally they panic when they realize their prime has slid away from them, and train harder than they ever have in their life. It's always too late. For examples of this phenomenon see: Penn, Jay Dee; Liddell, Charles David; Rua, Mauricio and Hunt, Mark.
David: Man. That's some heavy stuff. Before I read those two paragraphs I was in a pretty cheerful mood. Now I just feel like a lost kid, breaking through traumatic psychological barriers in Robin Williams' office.
Phil: I think Glover has the better put together game, but I can't help but feel like he got broken by the Jones loss. OSP is big, strong, and hits stupid hard. Ovince Saint-Preux by TKO, round 2.
David: Agree. I have hard time seeing Teixeira get broken like that, but it wouldn't surprise me in the least. There's a first time for everything, and there's usually a first time for a previously durable fighter to start getting finished where finishes didn't happen before as age takes over. Ovince Saint Preux by Decision.