- Date & Location: Sat., May 13, 2020, @ VyStar Veterans Memorial Arena, Jacksonville, Florida
- Odds: Anthony Smith -165 vs Glover Teixeira +135
- Prediction: Smith via decision
On May 13, two former UFC light heavyweight title challengers meet in the main event of the UFC on ESPN 9 fight card. Smith, who is the No. 3-ranked 205-pounder according to the official UFC light heavyweight rankings, dropped a decision to titleholder Jon Jones in March 2019. He bounced back from that loss with a fourth-round submission win over three-time UFC title challenger Alexander Gustafsson.
Teixeira, who is ranked No. 8 in the division, is riding a three-fight winning streak heading into this matchup. Teixeira lost a decision to Jones in a title fight in 2014. He is on an 8-4 run since that setback. Teixeira has not won four fights in a row since he ran up a 20-fight winning streak between 2006 and 2013. Jones ended that stretch of victories.
SMITH VS TEIXEIRA ODDS
|Fighter||Odds (as of Aug. 13)|
SMITH VS TEIXEIRA PREDICTION & PICK
Despite his loss to Jones, Smith is at the top of his game. He moved from middleweight to light heavyweight in 2018 and has fought in that division five times. He won four of those contests by stoppage and went this distance against a champion who will probably go down as the best fighter to ever compete in the UFC. Not only is Smith’s confidence at an all-time high, he is one of the best all-around fighters in the 205-pound division.
Teixeira, who is closing in on 41 years of age, is on a decent run right now, but his quality of opponents has not been equal to the fighters Smith has faced as a light heavyweight. Of Teixeira’s past three opponents, only one is ranked — Nikita Krylov at No. 10.
Meanwhile, Smith has faced Jones, the No. 7-ranked Gustafsson, and the No. 6-ranked Volkan Oezdemir. Before that, Smith fought and defeated two former UFC champs. Teixeira will be a game opponent, but I don’t think he’ll have enough to upset Smith and regain a spot among the elite of the division.
Pick: Smith (-165)
BETTING VALUE WITH SMITH
Smith has been so good at light heavyweight, one has to wonder what he could have achieved in that weight class if he had moved up from middleweight earlier in his career. Luckily, he’s still a fairly young 31, so we’ll have time to find out.
I believe Smith has the skill set to defeat Teixeira, but he doesn’t want to get in a slugfest with the powerful Brazilian. Smith’s best options are to use his jab to sting Teixeira and then move in close and fight inside the clinch. If he can use sound defense, Smith wins this fight, but I don’t think he stops Teixeira.
Smith said his goal is to submit his opponent in this bout, but no one has ever forced Teixeira to tap and I don’t think Smith will either. The best bets here are a win by decision for Smith or a surprise knockout if you have confidence that Smith can be the fourth fighter to stop Teixeira via strikes.
WHO HAS THE EDGE?
I think the mental game will play a huge role in this fight. Smith might have harbored doubts about himself in the past, but with a win over Gustafsson and a five-round loss to Jones, he knows he deserves his top three ranking in the light heavyweight division. He also knows that the men ranked above him, Thiago Santos and Dominick Reyes are just as eager to get a second shot at Jones as he is.
I expect Smith to be at his best in this fight. He’ll look to prove a point so he can leapfrog Reyes and Santos and earn himself another shot at Jones’ belt. As good as Smith looked in the Gustafsson matchup, I expect him to perform even better on May 13.
Smith has looked excellent since moving up to light heavyweight. The move has suited him well and he’s already achieved more in five fights at 205 pounds than he did in more than 40 fights at middleweight. Smith has earned a spot as one the elite fighters in the light heavyweight division.
Teixeira is a solid light heavyweight, but his days of being considered one of the elite fighters at 205 pounds might be behind him. He still possesses all the skills to move up in the division, but the fighters ahead of him are all younger and many remain in their prime. Teixeira is on a nice winning streak, but those victories have come against middling competition.
FIGHT STATS: SMITH VS TEIXEIRA
|Anthony Smith||Glover Teixeira|
|3.06||Significant Strikes Landed Per Minute||3.41|
|4.28||Significant Strikes Absorbed Per Minute||3.84|
|0.41||Takedown Average Per 15 Minutes||2.00|
|0.80||Submission Average Per 15 Minutes||1.00|
WHAT’S AT STAKE
There is a logjam at the top of the light heavyweight division. All three of the top-ranked fighters in the division have recently lost to current champ Jon Jones. Jones does not have a fight on the books. This battle is a chance for Smith to put his name at the top of the list of fighters who could be matched up against Jones for his next title fight. He has his work cut out for him in that regard, but there is a chance Smith could punch his ticket for a rematch with a win.
Teixeira probably won’t get a title shot with a win here, but he could put himself in a position to be one or two fights away from earning another shot at Jones if he pulls the upset over Smith.
This is an incredibly important light heavyweight scrap.