Since Jon Jones vacated the light heavyweight title, it’s been a whole new world at 205. The newly crowned champion, Jan Blachowicz sits atop the mountain, and many viable contenders reside just below. Nothing’s clear cut when it comes to title shot’s in this sport, but if there is anyone who deserves to be next in line for the opportunity, it’s the winner of this weekend’s headling fight between Thiago Santos and Glover Teixeira.
Thaigo Santos (-230) vs. Glover Teixeira (+184)
Santos and Teixeira are very similar in physical stature, both men stand 6’2, 205lbs with a 72-inch reach. They also share similarities in their approach to competition, both fighters are the type to force the action and have no qualms about walking straight into the pocket and taking their chances. Santos last competed in July 2019 when he took Jon Jones the distance in a battle many believe he won. Santos likes to get in your face and rip low leg kicks, chopping the leg is a very big part of his game. He wears people down with the power outside leg kicks, as well as uses them to set up blitzing with punches. As he showed in the TKO victory over current champion, Jan Blachowicz, he has power in his hands and the ability to catch you if you rush in on him.
Glover Teixeira has been looking better than ever as of late, in an interview I did with him before his last fight against Anthony Smith, he told me he credited much of his recent success to the quality strength and conditioning at the UFC Performance Institute. He may be advanced in age at 41 years old, but age is just a number, the 4 fight win streak he is riding is impressive. With three of four wins coming by stoppage against top tier competition and the newfound confidence, Teixeira is undervalued at +184. Santos is the faster of the two, and he will be able to land impactful leg kicks on Teixeira. But Santos tends to throw single leg kicks with no set-ups, and that could get him in trouble against Teixeira who is the better boxer and generally opportunistic.
At the End of the Day
Santos hits very hard and is dangerous, but he tends to swing wildly. Teixeira has really good head movement and rolls with punches very well. He gets hit and takes damage, but can minimize the damage with his striking defense. Teixeira is more efficient with his striking and has cleaner offensive technique in the boxing realm. With the unknown of the effect of Santos returning after a lay-off and surgery, Teixeira is poised to weather the storm early and come on strong late to earn the victory.
Pick: Glover Teixeira
— UFC (@ufc) November 3, 2020
Andrei Arlovski (+220) vs. Tanner Boser (-280)
In 2011 a lot of the fanbase was questioning Arlovski’s chin and calling for him to hang up the gloves. But as he has shown us by now, you can’t count him out, he looker greater than ever in his last fight, for god sakes. Even after all of these years and plenty of devastating losses, he is still out there moving very well. His jab has always been a useful tool for him, and when he is on his game, he’s beating 90% of the heavyweight roster. Tanner Boser is on the come up, although he is just 3-1 in the UFC, he is plenty experienced with 26 professional MMA fights. The Edmonton, Alberta native has very fast hands and is extremely light on his feet. He is a small heavyweight, so he is used to being the smaller man in the cage.
At the End of the Day
While Arlovski moves well still, he still takes plenty of damage. His chin has held up quite well lately, but he cannot afford to eat many power shots from Boser. The Canadain has plenty of experience, but yet to fight anyone the caliber of Arlovski, but Boser won’t be intimidated. His hands are too fast for Arolovksi and he has the guts to go after it. He may take some damage on the way in, but eventually, he will find his mark and win the fight.
Pick: Tanner Boser
Claudia Gadelha (+118) vs. Yan Xiaonan (-144)
The odds in this fight are very close because these two fighters share a lot of the same traits. Gadelha has more experience in the big show, and that accounts for a lot against most of her competition, but perhaps not so much against Yan Xiaonan. With a 5-0 record in the UFC, Xiaonan has been firing on all cylinders since entering the promotion, a high volume striker who has integrated power into her punches over the past couple of fights. She also takes risks and is not afraid to let a 3-4 point combinations fly.
At the End of the Day
Both girls are tough and are capable of keeping a high pace through all three rounds. When forced, Gadelha tends to get caught up moving backward in the striking exchanges. Even if she is landing equal too or more than the number of punches as her opponent, the perceived lack of octagon control won’t do her any favors with the judges. Xiaonan is extremely motivated and keeps a high pace, that’ll be enough for her to get the win.
Pick: Yan Xiaonan
— UFC Canada (@UFC_CA) November 2, 2020
Darren Elkins(-250) vs. Eduardo Garagorri (+172)
The veteran Darren Elkins has been in his fair share of wars, to say the least. Having been in the UFC for 10 years now, he now finds himself riding the worst losing streak of his career with 4 losses in a row. His recent record doesn’t look the best on paper, but when you take into consideration his losses are against fighters like the current Featherweight champion, Alexander Volkanovski, Ryan Hall, and Ricardo Lamas, it provides important context. A strong wrestler who is known to love a brawl, his tenacity and toughness are his trademarks. Eduardo Garagorr has a 13-1 record, but his level of competition has been called into question for good reason. In his UFC appearances, he has demonstrated good punching power but has also been a bit tentative at the same time.
At the End of the Day
Garagorri has never fought anywhere near the level of competition that Elkins has. Of course, this doesn’t mean that he cannot win, but there is a reason he is an underdog in a fight against a fighter on a four-fight losing streak, even though Elkins losses are against the elite. If things go as they should, it’s Elkins all day.
Pick: Darren Elkins
Max Griffin(-170) vs. Ramiz Brahimaj (+138)
Max Griffin is a tough out for most any welterweight on the roster. A fighter who likes to pressure early, Griffen also has the power in his hands to change the course of a fight in an instant. Almost half of his wins come via KO/TKO, he keeps a high guard and loves to fire a fast cross that has given him much success in the past. With Ramiz Brahimaj, it’s no secret what he wants to do. With all 8 victories coming via way of submission, only one of which went past the first round, it’s pretty clear that the BJJ whiz is going to try to get this one to the mat.
At the end of the day
Brahimaj isn’t getting served a cupcake for his UFC debut. As incredible as he is on the ground, Griffen will be able to avoid trouble early and push him out of the first round. The longer the fight goes, the more it’ll favor Griffen, his experience gives him the edge in this one.
Pick: Max Griffen
There is no guarantee that the winner of the main event will be the next in line for a title shot, but when you consider the current champions’ last loss was to Thiago Santos, it’s hard to imagine him not getting the nod if he wins. If Teixeira can beat the man who last beat Blachowicz, the veteran cannot be denied. Either way, in all likelihood the next title Lightheavyweight title challenger emerges on Saturday night.