Glover Teixeira has won 16 consecutive fights. | Jeff Sherwood/Sherdog.com
Glover Teixeira (18-2, 1-0 UFC) vs. Fabio Maldonado (18-5, 1-2 UFC)
The Matchup: Despite having just one UFC victory against middle-of-the-road talent Kyle Kingsbury, Teixeira’s legend has already grown to near-mythical proportions. For various reasons, former champions Mauricio “Shogun” Rua and Rashad Evans have declined fights against the 32-year-old Brazilian. Long regarded as one of the top 205-pounders outside the UFC, Teixeira was forced showcase his skills elsewhere as ongoing Visa issues kept him away from the Octagon until May.
He did not disappoint in his debut, rocking Kingsbury with power punches on the feet before submitting the former college football player with an arm-triangle choke in less than two minutes. Now the owner of an impressive 16-fight winning streak, with 15 of those resulting in a finish, Teixeira has already been anointed by many as the next big thing at light heavyweight. With that in mind, it is a shame Quinton Jackson was unable to make his date with Teixeira at UFC 153. While “Rampage” has often appeared disinterested of late, it was the type of veteran-versus-hyped-prospect pairing that could have brought out the best in the former Pride Fighting Championships standout. Instead, Teixeira gets Maldonado, a matchup that actually makes more sense in terms of a relative newcomer’s logical progression.
Like Teixeira, Maldonado knows a little something about doling out punishment to Kingsbury, as he broke the American Kickboxing Academy product’s orbital bone and battered him repeatedly with body punches but ultimately came up short in a decision defeat at “The Ultimate Fighter 13” Finale. Maldonado followed that effort with yet another close call, falling to Igor Pokrajac at UFC on Fuel TV 3 despite having outlanded the Croatian 98 to 36 in significant strikes. A former professional boxer with a 22-0 record, Maldonado has skilled hands and is able to put together fluid combinations. The Sao Paulo, Brazil, native does his best work in close, where he can unleash a series of punishing body blows.
As entertaining as Maldonado is to watch, he is clearly flawed. His takedown defense is lacking, he does not always close the pocket smoothly and he is vulnerable to grinding work in the clinch. While Teixeira might be willing to test his heavy hands against the former boxer, a few rib roasters might convince him a change in strategy is in order.
The Pick: As always, expect Maldonado to land a high volume of offense for as long as he lasts. The standup exchanges will be furious, violent and entertaining, but, eventually, Teixieira will put his Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt to use and submit his foe in round two.
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