PIERCE: Veteran talent shines in second UFC event in 4 days
UFC heavyweight Glover Teixeira hits Anthony Smith with an uppercut at UFC Fight Night on May 14, 2020 (Douglas P. DeFelice / Getty Images / AFP)
After a fantastic night of fights during UFC 249 on Saturday, UFC Fight Night returned to the empty VyStar Veterans Memorial Arena in Jacksonville, FL. Despite the lack of title fights and star-studded headliners, this Fight Night was still a success with a handful of great fights.
Here is my breakdown of the UFC Fight Night from Wednesday night.
Fight of the Night
Like UFC 249, the main event brought the heat in a significant way. 40-year-old, No. 8 ranked Glover Teixeira put on a display against No. 4 ranked, 31-year-old Anthony Smith in the light heavyweight division.
Smith came out firing in the first round and ran the pace of the octagon. He out-struck Teixeira 37-14 in round one. The second round was along the same lines with Teixeira popping off towards the end of the round despite having a swollen eye.
However, it is the third round that was so pivotal for Teixeira. Smith was only able to land one strike the entire five minutes. One strike. Teixeira out-struck Smith 76-1 in the third round alone. That is absolutely insane and the fact that Smith survived that round and continued to throw shots in the fourth round is crazy.
At this point, it was clear that Teixeira was running the show and Smith was just trying to survive. Teixeira’s devastating right hand just kept landing and Smith went on the defensive more a majority of the final rounds.
Smith’s corner made a huge mistake by sending him back out there for the fifth round. It was clear to everyone that he was done and had no shot coming back. If your fighter comes to you and says, “my teeth are falling out,” you throw in the towel. This is something that Smith actually said after the fourth round and could be heard on the ESPN Plus live feed. His corner made a huge mistake.
If you are in Smith’s corner, you have to be thinking about the future. You have to look at your fighter and decide if another round of beatings is worth it. Once a fighter is down like Smith was in the fourth round, every punch or elbow to the face delays his recovery.
Although Smith came out for the fifth round, he did not last long as Teixeira got on top and finished him quickly. With his TKO win, Teixeira showed that he was not a washed-up fighter who is at the end of his career. He may retire soon, but his ability to come at and put away Smith shows a lot about his skills.
With that loss, Smith’s run toward the belt has been severely slowed for the time being. Teixeira improves to 31-7 in his professional career as the thought of retirement looms over despite his very impressive performance on Wednesday. Although Dana White did not give this fight the “fight of the night” accolade, Teixeira grabbed one of the “performance of the night” bonuses.
Probably the second-best performance of the night came from lightweight Drew Dober. The former welterweight took on No. 15 Alexander Hernandez and notched a crucial win to move up the lightweight ranks and will most likely be a ranked contender come next week.
Dober utilized his pace and stamina to set the tone for the fight early. His striking was on point and too much for Hernandez to handle. Although Hernandez did a good job of following Dober’s melees with takedowns, he was unable to hold him down to take advantage of the ground-and-pound or try any submission attempts.
Dober’s patience and ability to create space was crucial in his second-round TKO. This will not be the last time we see Dober on the big stage.
Another top performance came from heavyweight Ben Rothwell when he won by a split decision against Ovince Saint Preux. This was OSP’s first move to heavyweight after contending for the light heavyweight belt at one point in his career. Rothwell had a massive weight advantage which he used to weigh down his opponent and keep the tempo in his control. Although OSP went off at the end of the fight, Rothwell held on and took a close, split decision.
In this Fight Night, the veterans of the game came out and performed very well. In addition to Dober and Teixeira, Andrei Arlovski also grabbed a victory. The 41-year-old heavyweight notched a unanimous decision against Philipe Lins. This shows that you can’t count out fighters who are considered to be toward the end of their careers.
The UFC will be back in action on Saturday to round out this Jacksonville fighting series.
Written by: Drew Pierce