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UFC Jacksonville: Anthony Smith vs. Glover Teixeira Toe-to-Toe Preview - complete breakdown

Phil and David break down everything you need to know about Smith vs. Teixeira for UFC Jacksonville. And everything you don’t need to know about aging gracefully.

Photo by Michael Campanella/Getty Images

Anthony Smith vs. Glover Teixeira headlines Wednesdays Fight Night card this May 13, 2020 at the VyStar Veterans Memorial Arena in Jacksonville, Florida.

One sentence summary:

David: Pandemic planning.

Phil: Glover tries not to be the latest ageing LHW sent to Anthony’s Glue Factory.

Stats:

Record: Anthony Smith 33-14 Glover Teixeira 30-7

Odds: Anthony Smith -175 Glover Teixeira +165

History / Introduction to Both Fighters

David: Smith became the unlikeliest of contenders after a super modest career, and somehow he’s transitioned that into something of a heavy in the division. I guess the jury’s still out. His last five fights make him look like he’s top billing. Gustafsson, Shogun, Evans, Volkan, and Jones; that’s a lot of former gold. Except most of these guys weren’t even cicada shells of their former selves. I include Jones in that description. The fact that Smith fought a tentative bout makes his loss look like a dilemma of psychology rather than a lack of talent or potential. Like I said, top billing? Who knows. We still have time to figure out if he’s a Van Damme or a Van Dien.

Phil: Anthony Smith has made an MMA career as the odd man out. As a journeyman he combined a vast and visible insecurity with an equally impressive capability for broad spectrum violence. This is normally a recipe for a bad person, but Smith somehow has come out of the end of it as a thoughtful man with the self-discipline to make it to a UFC title shot. Even as an elite LHW, however, he hasn’t exactly found the position he wanted. His fight against Jones was a tentative, damp squib, and was overshadowed by both Reyes and Santos taking the champ to contentious decisions. It’ll be hard to reposition himself without going through either of them, or Blachowicz.

UFC Fight Night: Teixeira v Krylov Photo by Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC/Zuffa LLC

David: Glover has led a respectable career—a career that started with whispers. Chuck Liddell is the champ, but his protege is the future. He’s still a monstrous fighter. And something of rare archetype: grappler-bruiser. But he’s past his prime, and even his recent string of victories don’t challenge what we know.

Phil: Glover has been someone holding onto his spot towards the top of the light heavyweight division by his fingernails, steadily slipping downwards while retaining just enough toughness and functional skill to turn away second and third-tier opponents. However, like Cowboy Cerrone at lightweight, the direction of his career can only really go in two directions at this point: it can stay level, or it can go down.

What’s at stake?

David: This is clearly political matchmaking at its crudest. Maybe they see Smith as a marketable fighter, or maybe it doesn’t matter because the UFC has never been good with this kind of stuff anyway. Nonetheless, Glover fits the bill of fighters they’ve been giving to Smith: old, not quite obsolete, but definitely ripe for the plucking.

Phil: Despite 205 being one of the more actively defended divisions, there’s something of a logjam at the top. There’s the Reyes rematch, Thiago Santos, and Jan Blachowicz all of whom could potentially have a crack at Jones. Smith’s best outcome is that he wins this and gets a fight with one of them. For Glover, I think he mostly just gets fights like this for the foreseeable future.

Where do they want it?

Phil: Smith is someone who lives for having a static opponent on the end of his reach. He fights long rather than tall (differentiating him from, say, Alexander Gustafsson), and can play well off the jab and front kick—with a functional countering toolset, primarily an overhand or left hook. Like many tall fighters, he is perhaps less skilled when compelled to take himself into range—losing his feet when he can’t just sit down and wait for an opponent to run onto the jab. His durability was always a knock on him down at middleweight, but it seems... decent (???) at 205lbs, and his cardio has cleaned up. What makes Smith work is that he is an incredibly broad-spectrum violent finisher if he smells blood. He’s nasty in the clinch, has a surprisingly dangerous top game, and attacks with enough diversity and power to polish off stunned opponents.

David: Vanilla dangerous. That’s the expression that comes to mind whenever I think of Smith. He doesn’t do anything that reinvents the wheel. And he’s not some kind of spectacular talent. If anything, he’s largely at the mercy of his own psychology, and sometimes that of his opponent. But it’s all there: the sweeping pressure of combination punching, the elastic posturing of capable submission grappling, etc. He’s like a good burger: just the right ratio of components. At the same time, he doesn’t do anything to stand out beyond that—and sometimes it feels like much of his skills are sandwiched not by other talents, but by the fact that he’s tall and good in the clinch. That’s not a knock. It’s just difficult to know what to expect. There are times when he sequences his offense with just the right amount of sauce, and times when he’s completely out of tune.

UFC Fight Night Smith v Teixeira: Weigh-Ins Photo by Cooper Neill/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images

Phil: Glover has been Glover since he came to the UFC, and that much hasn’t changed. He’s going to wade forward, try to bring out a jab or responsive strike, then sling the overhand or closing left hook in on the opponent. In that way, this fight could oddly resemble some of the dynamics of Gaethje vs Ferguson, albeit played out with infinitely slower and frankly much less skilled fighters. What has kept Glover in fights with upper tier competition has typically been his wrestling. Clinch and takedown into crushing ground and pound, punch-and-pass into arm triangle is the order of the day. Conversely, fighters who have been comfortably insulated from the wrestling attack (like, say, Corey Anderson) have been able to take advantage of his deteriorating speed on the feet.

David: I’m not sure where to start that we haven’t started before. Glover has never deviated from the path. He works his way into punch entries that involve a predictably angled one-two, and that can either be all he needs, or can progress to the next stage of his patented offense, which is the clinch. Once there, it opens up new revenue streams. Before he fought Jones, everyone pleaded with Jones to avoid the clinch. Glover was simply that dangerous. Even though Jones beat him at his own game, it still holds true. The clinch doesn’t just offer Glover more ways to hurt you. It offers Glover more ways to finish you. He is shockingly nimble on the ground for a guy of his size. Of course, what I’m describing is a prime G-man, and that man ain’t there anymore. The question will be: but is there enough of him?

Insight from past fights?

David: Smith looked good against Gus. He came forward, snapped at him with low kicks, and overhand rights. He looked aggressive, and he was even a true gentleman after Alex got slept. But for the most part, Gustafsson saw everything coming. More to the point, whenever Gus would close the distance, Smith didn’t have the counter ability he’s sometimes shown. I don’t see Glover having a chance based on the speed disadvantage alone. But Smith has a hard time calibrating his attack; when to pressure, when to reset, when to counter, when to defend, etc. If Glover can keep the pressure, perhaps Smith will be neutralized just enough?

Phil: The fight with Gustafsson did not speak well for Teixeira’s chances against a long, tall fighter, particularly as that was the last time the Mauler looked anything close to good. It is notable, though, that Gustafsson’s approach (where he literally turned and ran away when Glover looked to close him down) isn’t quite what Smith offers; he’s way less confident in being a Cruz-type outfighter, and so will be more likely to exchange and put himself into the line of fire of the plodding Brazilian.

X-Factors

David: Smith has endured a lot more than your typical fighter. He’s dealing with a global pandemic like everyone else. Then he was attacked in his own home by psycho Shazaam. And dealing with Jon Jones’ unique brand of douchery is its own battle. That’s a lot to have on your plate. Add in a 6’2, 200+lb Brazilian whose name sounds like something bought out of a serial killer supply store, and maybe it’s too much, too soon?

Phil: Aside from the obvious (training situation, COVID and suchlike) it’s hard to think of many. Smith has broadly been trending upwards, and Glover has been broadly trending downwards. That’s probably enough.

Prognostication

David: Obviously, the Smith who lost to Josh Neer loses to the Glover who beat Quinton Jackson. I believe it follows that the Smith who beat Alexander Gustafsson will win against the Glover that barely beat a Von Flue choke victim. Anthony Smith by TKO, round 3.

Phil: This is a fight which should see Smith being compelled to exchange more than he perhaps likes. His wrestling has looked better of late, so he should be able to survive if Teixeira manages to clinch up. The main thing is simply that Teixieira is becoming so hittable that even if he gets his favored exchanges, Smith is an accurate enough puncher and a good enough finisher—and possibly even has a durability edge at this point in their respective careers. Anthony Smith by TKO, round 2.