UFC Vegas 13 Main Event Preview
Yes, Israel Adesanya wants to come up to light heavyweight to take the belt from Jan Blachowicz. This is clearly an attempt to troll the former king of the division, Jon Jones. For the time being, tonight’s main event will be treated as a #1 contender fight for the 205-pound title.
Thiago “Marreta” Santos (21-7) vs. Glover Teixeira (31-7)
Light Heavyweight (205 LBS)
As the new era of the light heavyweight division in the UFC gets underway, two legitimate challengers are set to face off in the UFC Apex in Las Vegas, Nevada. While Jon Jones begins his journey towards heavyweight stardom, and Jan Blachowicz takes control of the throne, Thiago Santos and Glover Teixeira look to make the most of their opportunity. For the first time in 10 years, someone not named Jon Jones or Daniel Cormier is the Light Heavyweight Champion. That can only mean one thing. It’s not time for someone to take part; it’s time for someone to take over.
With Santos’ last win being a knockout over the current champion and Teixeira looking better than ever at 41 years of age, there is plenty of reason to be excited for this one. There is little room to doubt what is at stake in this matchup. The winner will go on to fight Blachowicz for the division’s strap in (March…maybe). While the competitors in the 205-pound division don’t make up the dreamiest fights, the UFC was built on the success of light heavyweights. Some may see the division in limbo, but opportunity is at an all-time high.
Fighting for the first time in 17 months after blowing out his knee, there is a lot to be desired for the man who took Bones Jones to a split-decision. With the belief that he beat arguably the best mixed martial artist of all time, Santos is raving with confidence. Not only did he obliterate his knee in the first round against Jones, he proceeded to be the aggressor for most of the contest. There’s no changing the outcome of what happened last July, but the thought of his performance without a bad knee will forever linger.
Since moving up to the light heavyweight division nearly three years ago, Santos has looked phenomenal aside from an upset loss to David Branch. Out of his five wins at 205 lbs, the statement made against Blachowicz rings the loudest. In what was a competitive fight until the finish, a rematch for the title would be intriguing. As he has his sight set on an eventual championship run, he’ll need to beat the man who just won’t go away, Glover Teixeira.
Without a loss in over two years, the Brazilian veteran has another chance to capture what has alluded him for his entire career. Always being a force at 205 lbs, Teixeira has struggled to get over the hump. Continuously defeating top-tier talent, the absence of Jon Jones opens a door that has been closed for many years. With a decisive loss in his first and only title shot in April of 2014, Teixeira hasn’t been labeled as a real contender since. In fact, he has been tagged with the forbidden label of being a gatekeeper.
It’s safe to say that he has failed as a gatekeeper. During his four-fight win streak, Teixeira has beaten men nearly a decade or younger than him. Stopping three and pulling a decision out in the other, he has made it clear that this last run won’t be for naught. This will likely be his last shot to get his hands on UFC gold. With a win over Santos, he’ll be in line for Blachowicz’s first title defense.
The frustration between Santos and Teixeira is an interesting factor heading into this fight. With COVID-19 delaying the fight from happening in September and October, the chance that this bout deciding who the #1 contender will be has diminished. Not only is time ticking for the two Brazilian’s, but two men from outside the division could prevent the progress of the title picture from taking shape. Their only choice is to focus and not get caught up in the matchmaking down the line.
This is a matchup that will likely stay on the feet for the majority of the 25 minutes. With both guys having similar game plans, the man with better intangibles has the advantage. As Santos is stronger, faster, and more agile than Teixeira, Teixeira didn’t suffer a near career-ending knee injury last year. That will close whatever natural advantage Santos has over the 18-year veteran. A knee injury can have different effects on athletes when they return depending on the sport. We’re going to see how much it hampers someone who is usually very dangerous.
While Teixeira looked rejuvenated in his fight against Anthony Smith, Smith’s striking isn’t on par with that of Santos. Teixeira has always had the ability to take advantage of his opponents’ weaknesses, but we’ve all seen what happens when he gets stagnant against an elite striker. With Teixeira struggling to move his head at times, the fast and aggressive Santos will look to capitalize. Given the history of the two men, this particular matchup makes Santos the favorite. With that said, Teixeira has made a career out of defying the odds. He’ll just need to avoid the doomsday device that is Santos’ right hand.
Papa Dana would prefer to give Adesanya a shot to move up and become a double-champ, but these two killers shouldn’t be overlooked in their path to championship gold.