UFC Fight Night: Teixeira vs Bader Preview and Breakdown

September 3, 2013

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UFC Fight Night: Teixeira vs Bader Preview and Breakdown



“UFC Fight Night: Teixeira v. Bader” airs live on Sportsnet 360, Wednesday, September 4.  Preliminaries will be broadcast on Facebook/YouTube starting at 4:00 PM (EST).  Coverage will continue on Sportsnet 360, with televised preliminaries beginning at 5 PM (EST) and the main card airing at 7 PM (EST).

The UFC returns to Brazil for the fifth time in 2013 and the trips have paid major dividends for the country’s native sons.  Brazilians have gone 25-7 against non-Brazilians when competing in their homeland.  Whether it’s the charge they’re receiving from the riotous crowds or generous matchmaking, the home team has been unkind to visitors.  Now, invaders from the US, Russia, Poland and Japan arrive with the goal of making their mark in hostile territory.  Can the Brazilians maintain their winning ways?

The Preliminaries

Don’t feel bad if a glance at the preliminary card leaves you scratching your head.  Four of the five bouts feature one fighter making their first appearance in the UFC.

The reason for this is a litany of injuries that forced a significant restructuring of the preliminary card.  It’s actually a miracle that only one bout, a meeting between Hugo Wolverine and Wilson Reis (originally Johnny Bedford), had to be cancelled completely.  The matchmakers had to dig deep to find replacements, eventually turning to South America’s long-running Jungle Fight promotion for assistance.

Several of Brazil’s greatest fighters have seen action in Jungle Fight, including Junior dos Santos, Lyoto Machida and Jacaré Souza just to name a few.  On Wednesday, they send forth three of their current champions to battle on the biggest stage in all of MMA: Edimilson “Kevin” Souza (featherweight), Ivan Jorge (lightweight) and Elias Silvério (welterweight, though he is moving up to middleweight for this contest).  In creating what is essentially a UFC vs. Jungle Fight undercard, the Brazilian promotion stands to enhance an already world renowned reputation if its representatives can put on a good showing.

The Main Card

 

Flyweight Bout: Marcos Vinicius (1-1 UFC, 20-4) v. Ali Bagautinov (0-0 UFC, 10-2)

On a cast full of cry babies, Vina still stood out as one of the more emotional cast members of TUF: Brazil.  He is light on his feet and hard to finish, two traits that should translate well in his drop to 125.  Expect tears, whether he wins or loses.

Bagautinov is the best flyweight Europe has to offer.  He’s riding a fat eight fight winning streak that includes some up and down competition.  His stand-up needs a lot of work as it’s mostly comprised of a probing jab followed by him swinging for the fences.  Where he shines is in his grappling.  Bagautinov is a Combat Sambo champion, a gift that could lead to some spectacular trips and slams in the flyweight division.

Middleweight Bout: Rafael Natal (4-2-1 UFC, 16-4-1) v. Tor Troéng (1-0 UFC, 16-4-1)

It’s been suggested that the UFC has given favourable bookings to Brazilians fighting in their home country and this match isn’t going to dissuade that notion.  Not only is Natal from Brazil, but Belo Horizonte is where he was born and raised.

Troéng is no push-over.  The Swede was a favourite of Chael Sonnen on TUF 17, with only the mental aspect of his game holding him back.  That said, their records might look identical but Natal has a wealth of UFC experience to draw from.  Add in the difference in grappling (one of these guys is a Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu black belt and one isn’t.  I’ll let you figure out which) and the partisan crowd and this will be an uphill battle for Troéng.

Lightweight Bout: Francisco Trinaldo (3-1 UFC, 13-2) v. Piotr Hallmann (0-0 UFC, 13-1)

This looks like another mismatch, but don’t count out Hallmann, one of Europe’s brightest lightweight prospects.  Aside from having a high finishing rate, the quality of his opponents prior to signing with the UFC is unusually good.  He’s won nine straight, eight by KO/TKO/submission, against opponents with a combined record* of 89-46.  That’s minimal padding for a relatively unknown fighter.

He’ll be searching for the biggest win of his career against Massaranduba, one of Brazil’s most beloved fighters.  Coming up, the 35 year old Trinaldo was living a double life, basking in the glory of martial arts supremacy while struggling to put food on the table.  Seeing him in the UFC has been a heartwarming story (though his opponents might not think so).  Hallmann represents the next wave of fighters looking to push the old guard aside.  Don’t expect Massaranduba to step aside graciously.

(*at the time they fought Hallmann)

 

Flyweight Bout: Joseph Benavidez (5-1 UFC, 18-3) v. Jussier Formiga (1-1 UFC, 15-2)

While the UFC was still working to integrate the 135 and 145 pound weight classes, Formiga was the king of the flyweights.  In addition to the division lacking exposure in North America, Formiga also employed a grappling heavy attack that severely decreased the chances of an exciting contest.  Flyweight bouts are marketed as the fastest three (or five) rounds in MMA.  Formiga doesn’t fit that mold.  He’ll take the wins.

All that said, when Benavidez was finally allowed to make a home at 125, it was assumed he would contend for the title right away.  He didn’t disappoint.  For ages, Benavidez had quietly been one of the world’s pound-for-pound best, with only two losses in his career, both at the hands of Dominick Cruz, both close decisions.  When the time came to crown a champion, you would have been hard pressed to find a better field than Ian McCall (who had risen to the top of the flyweight rankings), Yasuhiro Urushitani (the best flyweight in Japan), Benavidez and Demetrious Johnson (another bantamweight contender who was a true flyweight).

The only one missing was Formiga.

After this fight, we’ll have an idea of how Formiga might have done in that tournament.  Benavidez is extremely active, but also patient so this could be one of the more methodical flyweight contests.  All it will take is one mistake for Benavidez to land a knockout blow or for Formiga to get that key takedown that will allow him to work his mat magic.  Even in a shallow division, the marquee matches keep on coming.

Middleweight Bout: Yushin Okami (13-4 UFC, 29-7) v. Ronaldo Souza (1-0 UFC, 18-3 [1 NC])

Okami has to be Joe Silva’s worst nightmare.  He can’t realistically ever fight for the middleweight title again (nobody wanted to see it the first time and they wanted to see it even less after Anderson Silva crushed him).  His style sends fans running for a smoke break.  And you can’t get rid of him, seeing as how he’s one of the five best middleweights in the world.

Enter Jacaré.

One important service that Okami can still provide is elevating other talents.  I hate to refer to him as a “jobber” because again, he’s better than 90% of the division, but when it’s clear that the company isn’t invested in him in any meaningful way I’m not sure how else to look at it.  Souza is a charismatic fighter with several hooks: he’s got a dynamic ground game, he finishes fights and he does that awesome thing with his arms where he mimics an alligator chomping on some dude.  The UFC wants Souza to beat Okami like they wanted Anthony Pettis to beat Benson Henderson.

It’s a good match-up for Jacaré on paper.  Okami has faced elite BJJ practitioners before (Alan Belcher in his last fight, Lucio Linhares and Jason MacDonald prior to that), Jacaré is on another level.  The wiry strength of Jacaré will also cause problems for Okami, who is used to imposing his will and breaking down opponents.  Both men are on considerable winning streaks (Okami, 3; Jacaré, 4), so no matter what someone will be lining up to take a crack at Chris Weidman.  It sure would be nice to have a fresh challenger though.

Light Heavyweight Bout: Glover Teixeira (4-0 UFC, 21-2) v. Ryan Bader (8-3 UFC, 15-3)

There was a time when Bader (based on his record and who he’d fought) was on par with Jon Jones as far as potential.  Withhold your angry comment!

Going into their meeting at UFC 126, Bader was undefeated while Jones had one “loss” from being disqualified in the Matt Hamill fight.  Jones’ biggest wins were Brandon Vera and Vladimir Matyushenko; Bader had beaten Keith Jardine and Antônio Rogério Nogueira who were better than Vera and Matyushenko.  Everyone knew that Jones was the better prospect, but you could at least make an argument for Bader.

Well, you could until the second round of their fight when Jones finished Bader with a guillotine choke.  Since then, Jones has become a bona fide superstar and Bader became a stepping stone on Tito Ortiz’ brief comeback trail.  Ouch.

Bader will have to deliver the fight of his life if he wants to avoid the same outcome against Teixeira, the would-be challenger to the throne of Bones.  So far, Teixeira has been near flawless in the octagon.  Only Fabio Maldonado threatened him and Maldonado was too busy getting mutilated the rest of the time to pull off the upset.  His kinship with Chuck Liddell and a winning streak that dates back to May 2006 provide him with an aura that gives him an advantage right out of the gate.  Being a feared boxer and a BJJ black belt doesn’t hurt either.

The physical gifts that Bader possesses haven’t gone anywhere and he’s gotten better with time even if the results don’t always reflect that.  He is a sizeable 205er blessed with natural knockout power.  Teixeira cannot trade with Bader as he did with Maldonado or he can kiss his title chances goodbye.  Controlling the fight with wrestling is a tricky proposition for Bader as Teixeira’s takedown defence is superb and he’s not afraid to fight off his back should it come to that.  There’s no sense in looking ahead and if Teixeira can keep himself focused on his Wednesday night meeting with Bader, he’ll eventually get his much anticipated meeting with the champion.

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