Preview: UFC Fight Night 171 “Smith vs. Teixeira”

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John
Brannigan / Sherdog illustration


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There was some hope that the
Ultimate Fighting Championship Long layoff would mean more
cards stacked on his return but
UFC Fight Night 171 Wednesday is essentially a return to
the status quo. There are still things to love, and even if the
Anthony
Blacksmith – Glover
Teixeira headlining can’t inspire excitement at first glance,
it’s a fight well done with surprising relevance.

There are legitimately good fights on the main map. Ricky simon
is a guaranteed action; Karl
Roberson – Marvin
Vettori is an underrated gem; and Alexandre
Hernandez could have a banger against Drew Dober.
There are worse ways to spend a few hours in the middle of the
week, even if an essential company has set up a range
This is certainly not essential. Now, at the UFC Fight Night “Smith vs Teixeira” preview:

Light trucks

Anthony
Blacksmith (33-14) against Gantier
Teixeira (30-7)CHANCES: Smith (-155), Teixeira (+135)

It is still a little disturbing to see Smith as a title contender in the
UFC. “Lionheart” eliminated from promotion in almost record time
in 2013 as he came in the Strikeforce merger, lost to
Antonio
Braga Neto on an unworked opener in less than two minutes
then ended up looking outside. However, Smith
finally found his balance, won seven straight wins and
received the recall as a replacement for an injury two and a half years
later. From there, Smith established himself as a pleasure if not
particularly relevant average weight, showing a penchant for the end
returns in victories against Elvis
Mutapcic, Andrew
Sanchez and Hector
Lombard. After a loss Thiago
Santos, Smith decided to exercise his profession in a weight category at 205
books and has had shocking success ever since. AT
first, part of that was the casual match, because Smith had the
good luck being matched with the post-prime versions of
Rashad
Evans and Mauricio
Ruaet he went through them easily. A Volkan victory
Oezdemir who followed Smith’s usual formula – survive early
so take over late – works wonders again, and Smith found
himself as the next unlikely candidate for Jon Jones.
This title fight was ultimately just a moral victory,
like Smith never really pulled the trigger and Jones slid towards a
victory. Even so, the native of Corpus Christi, Texas,
the image of the championship with a victory over Alexander
Gustafsson three months later. After taking a well deserved
break, Smith had to title a card in its original state of
Nebraska, which would have been a highlight in a career that
has been a monument to persistence. Unfortunately, the coronavirus
scuttled these plans, and while Smith still faces Teixeira, that
the fight takes place in Florida a few weeks later than planned.

Teixeira’s path on the light heavyweight ladder was much more
as simple as that of his opponent. Visa issues delayed her
sign for a few years but once the Brazilian hit the Octagon in
2012, he goes on five victories and fights against Jones for the title
within two years. Like everyone before and after him, Teixeira
couldn’t dislodge the linchpin of the light heavyweights, but he made a
impressive job of staying relevant over the next six years. A loss
at Corey
Anderson in 2018 – coincidentally on the same map where Smith
envoy from Rua – was worrying because Teixeira was slow to respond to
the elimination of his opponent and his strike so as not to
previous outings. He spent all of 2019 showing that he wasn’t finished
again. Younger, more athletic perspectives Karl
Roberson, Ion
Cutelaba and Nikita
Krylov all managed to damage it, but Teixeira survived and
came away with a win each time. Surprisingly, even at 40
old man, a win here could put Teixeira back in the title picture after
be struck off for the umpteenth time.

It might sound like a step back from Smith’s last fights, but
it’s a surprisingly difficult confrontation to call. Smith made a
impressive job of militarizing the mental issues that plagued a
much of his career; where he would fall back under pressure he has
now learned to fight back, survive and fight back. Jones aside,
he also got opponents at the light heavyweight where it was
destined to work, Beyond Evans and Rua, Oezdemir has trouble
gas tank problems and Gustafsson at the end of his career did not inspire much
trust. Where is Teixeira at this stage of her career?
Has it slowed down to where it falls in the same category as
Evans and Rua, in which case it seems likely to roll, or
is he a born survivor who can withstand danger on his way to
victory? Addition to the plot: parts of this style match
certainly favor Teixeira. Smith’s defensive struggle has improved,
but that remains a liability, and while the Factory X representative has succeeded
to survive on the ground, Teixeira is a much more adept finisher
than these recent opponents. In the end, youth and speed too
a lot to bet against, and while Teixeira survived early troubles
in each of his victories in 2019, Smith tends to finish what he starts once
he actually commits to it. The choice is Smith via
stop at the end of the first round.

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