Untested and relatively unknown, Glover Teixeira heads into title fight against Jon Jones with limited buzz


Jon Jones has been featured in several different headlines so far in 2014. It has consisted of Daniel Cormier and Alexander Gustafsson calling him out for either playing matchmaker or “dodging them”. Then the whole Instagram fiasco happened last week, which was blown out of proportion. Just when you thought we could finally focus on the fight against Glover Teixeira, Phil Davis decides to want some attention and starts taking shots at Jones.

At this point, does anyone remember that the focal point for this week should be the actual title fight? It may not be frustrating for Teixeira, since he’s a well-mannered person who’s only focused on fighting. He’s not trying to hype a fight or anything to that extent. It has to be frustrating that the best fighter in the world is fighting this weekend and the focal point isn’t even on his matchup. It’s all based on his future.

After Gustafsson beat Jimi Manuwa in convincing fashion, he called out Jones for a rematch. That got everyone excited, but once again it made people forget that Jones still has to defend his title once more. Then you have Cormier and Davis repeatedly take shots at Jones. While you can’t stop fighters from expressing themselves, wouldn’t you want to post a video or formulate an article of fighters talking about how much of a threat Teixeira is? That’s what they did with Chris Weidman in the first matchup against Anderson Silva.

What also hasn’t helped has been the lack of top-level fighters in their prime in the light heavyweight division. Mookie Alexander of Bloody Elbow tweeted how only three of the top fifteen ranked fighters at 205 pounds are under 30 years old. While some people may argue that the percentage at heavyweight is even worse, at least that division has notable fighters, who are still fighting at a high level. Teixeira’s biggest wins are against Ryan Bader and Rampage Jackson, who is clearly past his prime. Those wins haven’t exactly generated much buzz.

As talented as he may be, fans want to see a fighter who can either sell a fight or has beaten worthy contenders. Jones and Lyoto Machida before had beaten Bader in title eliminators. His stock isn’t necessarily high, while Rampage admitted to not being able to compete with the best anymore. Similar to Fabricio Werdum last week, the UFC hasn’t done a good job in putting Teixeira against true contenders for fans to believe that he can defeat Jones. Who can forget the infamous poll that had 85 percent picking Browne to beat Werdum? A decent amount of those voters likely based their pick from Browne’s momentum and recent victories.

There are a few clear differences between both Brazilians. Unlike Werdum, Teixeira didn’t win as convincingly in his past fights. Bader and Fabio Maldonado both notably tagged him in their respective fights. Teixeira’s pace slowed down considerably in the final round against Rampage. Even in his fight against Bader, he wasn’t as explosive as we’ve known him to be in the first round. The difference was Bader recklessly let himself open, which you can’t do against an excellent boxer.

You also have to take into consideration that he’s facing the best fighter in the world compared to Werdum facing someone, who had rarely fought past the first round in his career. People can say Jones boxing was exposed and that he can’t overpower everyone at 205 following his win over Gustafsson. In the end, he’s still the most well rounded fighter in the UFC and is a specimen that has yet to be truly figured out. When you think you got him figured out like Machida and Gustafsson did in the first round, he comes back and shows why he’s been champion for over three years.

Whether it’s by short elbows in the clinch, spinning kicks to the body or knee, or vicious ground-and-pound. Jones has shown countless times that he can decimate his opponent, to the point where they can’t mount a comeback. While we’ve seen some deficiencies in his striking, he’s proven that he can make up for it with his wrestling and athleticism.

This is a whole new challenge for Teixeira, where will see if he’s truly evolved as a fighter. We constantly hear about his one-punch knockout power that poses a lethal threat at all times. Rampage and Vitor Belfort had the same qualities and they were even more explosive on the feet, yet Jones was mostly dominant in those respective bouts. Will Teixeira’s cardio hold up, along with how will he handle someone shooting in on him? Besides Bader, nobody has really attempted to do so. How about being on his back for a significant period of time? Besides choking out James Te Huna with a guillotine, we’ve yet to see much of his ground game.

There are so many questions about Teixeira’s overall ability that has to be answered, which doesn’t bode well in terms of viewership from casual fans. The UFC needs to truly bring back number one contender fights rather than just match one of the top contenders up against a lower ranked opponent. What they did with Travis Browne and Werdum is what they should always look to do for all of their divisions. That will prove to be more of a justification for a title shot. Even though Teixeira has won 20 fights in a row and hasn’t lost in five years, fans put much more stock into quality over quantity in wins.

For the first time in his title reign, it seems like there isn’t a special feeling in the air for a Jon Jones title fight. At least with his fight against Gustafsson, people were intrigued by the size similarities. Gustafsson had also been tested and was fairly dominant in his UFC career, besides being submitted by Phil Davis. Even though that fight seemed to lack buzz, there was still some intrigue to it. I’m not sure you can say the same thing about the main event on Saturday, which is awfully disappointing.

Twitter: @Allen_Strk

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