A 20-match winning streak, including five straight to start his UFC career, has given light-heavyweight contender Glover Teixeira a huge boost of confidence heading into his title bout against reigning champion Jon Jones.
The two will enter the octagon in Maryland’s Baltimore Arena in the main event of UFC 172 on Saturday night for the light-heavyweight crown, a belt Jones has successfully defended six consecutive times.
In interviews leading up to the mega-bout, Teixeira (22-2, 5-0 UFC) has praised Jones (19-1, 13-1 UFC) for his skills as well as his three-year title run but also expressed his desire to improve his own game while exploiting weaknesses in Jones’s.
"I'll never give myself an A since I ask a lot from myself," Teixeira said to USA Today. "Every fight has its rough spots, and I'm always looking for improve every facet. I may not be as young, but my experience makes up for it."
Teixeira, a 34-year-old Brazilian jiu-jitsu expert who’s only tasted defeat twice in his 12-year career, also said he doesn’t view himself as the underdog but completely understands why fans and experts, as well as Las Vegas, agree with the 4-1 odds against him.
Known especially for his brute strength, emphasized by his deadly right-hand, Teixeira is certainly capable of dropping Jones with a single blow. But getting close enough and catching Jones off-guard will prove difficult.
Based off their measurements, Jones holds an 8.5 inch reach advantage over Teixeira, putting the powerful challenger at an immediate disadvantage when the opening bell rings.
One of the better ways to get past Jones’s considerable length is to tire the champion and wait until the later rounds to bring that right hand around. Jones has gone the full five rounds twice in his six-match title defense and both were unanimous decisions to Rashad Evans and Alexander Gustafsson.
Teixeira and his trainers may have closely studied Jones’s bout with former friend Evans the most, considering the latter’s big right hand proved ineffective against the former’s length and punishing kicks.
Teixeira told USA Today he relies on his trainers to develop his fight strategies, and that he doesn’t spend “much time” studying opponents.
Teixiera’s team, The Pit, claims former light heavyweight champion Chuck “The Iceman” Liddell as an alumnus, and Liddell offered his prediction and perhaps his ideal strategy to MMAFighting.com earlier this week.
"I think [Glover] either hurts [Jones] with a punch and he shoots and submits him, or knocks him out," Liddell said. "I'm not sure which one, but it's one of those things. Doesn't get past [round] three."
It’s unlikely Teixeira cares how exactly he beats Jones, just as long as he wins. But a well-timed hold into a submission could be Teixeira’s best chance considering Jones has never been knocked out. In three of his last six fights Teixeira’s won by submission, specifically the guillotine choke and a triangle.