Two Brazilian powerhouses meet in the main event this weekend hoping that victory will put them within touching distance of another title shot. Can Thiago Santos return to form after a spell out with injuries or will Glover Teixeira continue his impressive run of results?
Thiago Santos (21-7) appeared on The Ultimate Fighter: Brazil series 2 and, although he didn’t win the series, he earned a contract with the UFC. Competing as a middleweight in the promotion from 2013 to 2018, he has been a light heavyweight for the last couple of years.
Santos holds a 13-6 record in the UFC (10-5 as a middleweight and 3-1 at light heavyweight) and was signed with an impressive 8-1 record. His last fight was a shot at the 205lbs crown against dominant former champion Jon Jones at UFC 239 – Santos lost by split decision but became the first fighter to win a judges’ scorecard against Jones.
Unfortunately, the contest came with a heavy price because Santos suffered a torn LCL, MCL, PCL, meniscus, and a cracked tibia in his left leg while partially tearing the ACL in his right leg. This weekend will be his first bout in 16 months following his recovery.
Prior to the Jones fight, Santos had claimed a TKO victory 39 seconds into round three against the current champion Jan Błachowicz in February last year in a Performance of the Night (POTN). Santos’ title shot came after having won four in a row and eight of his last nine including seven KO/TKO finishes.
“Marreta” has eleven UFC KO/TKO wins but has been finished in the first round in four of his six promotional defeats – two KO and two submission losses. Santos is over four years younger than Teixeira and has a background in Brazilian jiu-jitsu, capoeira, and Muay Thai; I expect Santos to try and stand with Teixeira and look for another KO victory.
Glover Teixeira (31-7) is the former Shooto Brazil catchweight champion at 220lbs and has been a UFC light heavyweight since 2012. He has amassed a 14-5 promotional record including six KO/TKO and five submission wins.
Teixeira has beaten former 205lbs champions, Quinton Jackson, by unanimous decision in January 2013, and Rashad Evans, in Evans’ training base of Florida by first-round KO in April 2016 which earned him a POTN bonus. However, he also came up short in a title shot against Jones, losing by unanimous decision in a one-sided affair at UFC 172.
Teixeira last fought against Anthony Smith in May, winning with an early-round five TKO which resulted in another performance bonus and extended his winning streak to four bouts. Of Teixeira’s five UFC losses, two have been by KO/TKO and three by unanimous decision – he has never lost by submission in his professional career.
With a background in BJJ, the 41-year-old Brazilian is possibly more skilled on the ground than Santos and might attempt to take the fight to the floor if he is being bettered on the feet. This is the third time that this fight has been booked following positive COVID-19 tests for both fighters, and it is likely that the victor in this weekend’s main event is in pole position for the next title shot after Jan Błachowicz takes on Israel Adesanya in a champion versus champion match-up.
Prediction: Teixeira by KO/TKO in a POTN.
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