Anthony Smith rebounded from his title fight defeat with a stoppage win last June, but can the light-heavyweight contender make it back-to-back victories when he faces Glover Teixeira in the main event of the May 13 UFC Fight Night card in Jacksonville, Florida?
Anthony Smith v Glover Teixeira UFC Fight Night Predictions & Tips
Smith had flourished since making the move up to 205lbs, but he came up short when he challenged Jon Jones for the gold a year ago. ‘Lionheart’ made a big splash in the weight class when he stopped former champions Rashad Evans and Mauricio ‘Shogun’ Rua in the first round, and he secured himself a light-heavyweight title shot when he forced Volkan Oezdemir to tap out to a rear-naked choke in the third round of their encounter.
However, Smith’s roll was brought to a shuddering halt when he stepped inside the Octagon with dominant light-heavyweight champion Jones in March 2019. ‘Bones’ received two points deductions for an illegal knee in the fourth round of the contest, but such was his dominance throughout the five rounds that he still came away with a unanimous decision victory.
It was a harsh reality check for the 31-year-old, although he did receive plaudits for the way he handled the illegal strike. ‘Lionheart’ could have taken the easy way out, told the referee he could not continue after being hit with the knee and received a disqualification win that would have made him UFC light-heavyweight champion. He refused though, fought on and afterwards said he could not ‘steal’ a victory and the title in that way.
“I said it from the beginning that I wanted to win the title, and I know as well as anyone that I could have sat there and taken the DQ win,” he said. “But I wanted to win it, I didn’t want to steal it.”
Smith now finds himself looking to earn another crack at Jones and his response to that loss, so far, has been strong. He was able to dominate and tap out Alexander Gustafsson in Sweden last June and he now gets an opportunity to knock off another long-time contender in the division, Glover Teixeira, in the main event of the hastily arranged UFC Fight Night card in Jacksonville on May 14. So can Smith follow up his impressive victory over Gustafsson with another big win here?
Teixeira is enjoying his best run of form in the UFC since last 2015/early 2016, having reeled off three consecutive victories. Submission wins over Karl Roberson and Ion Cutelaba were followed up by a split decision success against Nikita Krylov last September, and although the 40-year-old Brazilian was not a convincing winner on the night, it was a fight against a fellow top-10 light-heavyweight that proved there is still life left in the veteran.
But is there enough for him to beat a man like Smith – a great athlete and physical specimen in the prime years of his MMA career? I am not so sure. Yes, Teixeira is a very well rounded mixed martial artists with the striking power to knock opponents out and the savvy on the ground to tap them out (25 of his 30 professional wins have come via stoppage), but the same can be said about Smith and it must be said that he is a cut above the quality of fighters that Teixeira has been beating recently.
Smith is elite in this division – just maybe not elite enough to end Jones’ reign. He should move a step closer to earning another crack at the champion though, taking out Teixeira inside five rounds to cement his place in the top five in the light-heavyweight division.
Smith v Teixeira Tips: UFC Fight Night Fighter Predictions
Anthony Smith talking to MMA Junkie: “I do think with my pressure and just being pinpoint accurate, I think I need a late finish. I think Glover’s going to be forced to take some bad shots to stay safe and I think it will be a submission. That one would mean a lot to me. Getting a submission win over someone as heralded as Glover Teixeira on the ground? He’s a really good black belt, but so am I. I think Glover’s going to be hard to knock out and I’m trying to be a little smarter with my hands these days. So we’re going heavier volume, we’re going to throttle the power back a little bit and be a little more tactical. I’m going to see if we can submit Glover Teixeira.”