If the Glover Teixeira we’ve seen in the UFC continues to perform at the level he’s been performing, then not only is he the most dangerous opponent Jon Jones has ever faced, he’s BETTER than Jones. Let me throw some numbers at you:
- Significant Strikes Landed per Minute: Teixeira 5.63, Jones 4.15
- Significant Strikes Absorbed per Minute: Jones 1.89, Teixeira 2.12
- Significant Strike Margin: Teixeira +3.51, Jones +2.26
- Strikes per Knockdown: Teixeira 54.3, Jones 171.5
- Takedown Accuracy: Teixeira 63%, Jones 51%
- Takedown Defense: Teixeira 100%, Jones 96%
- Takedowns per 15 Minutes: Teixeira 3.90, Jones 2.45
- Submission Attempts per 15 Minutes: Teixeira 1.30, Jones 0.73
Despite most statistics pointing towards Teixeira being the better fighter, Jones is considered the overwhelming favorite to win. Stuff like this is why people claim statistics are useless for MMA. My response is that statistics are incredibly useful but need CONTEXT. And here’s the context:
Jon Jones last five opponents: Alexander Gustafsson, Chael Sonnen, Vitor Belfort, Rashad Evans, Lyoto Machida
Glover Teixeira last five opponents: Ryan Bader, James Te Huna, shot Quinton Jackson, Fabio Maldonado, Kyle Kingsbury
While Jones has been consistently fighting the very best opponents in the light-heavyweight division, Teixeira has had a couple tough fights and a couple gimmes. The biggest reason Teixeira’s numbers are so ridiculously good is because he fought Maldonado, who wasn’t competitive against Teixeira but was way too tough to be stopped quickly. The result was an 85-10 edge in significant strikes for Teixeira. Tougher opponents have been much more competitive against Teixeira:
- Teixeira vs. shot Quinton Jackson: 80-53 significant strikes
- Teixeira vs. James Te Huna: 12-8
- Teixeira vs. Ryan Bader: 14-11
Teixeira has remained offensively active but he’s also been very easy to hit. Bader in particular was giving Teixeira fits before getting sloppy and losing by knockout. Teixeira is not so much a precision boxer as he is a high-level slugger. That’s great against almost any light-heavyweight in the world, but I’m not so sure it’s great against Jon Jones.
The other factor is that Teixeira has fought a series of opponents who have very similar height and reach to him. Fight Metric lists Teixeira as 6’2″ with a 75.5″ reach. Teixeira’s opponents have had the following measurements:
- Bader: 6’2″, 74″ reach
- Te Huna: 6’2″, 76″ reach
- Jackson: 6’1″, 73″ reach
- Maldonado: 6’1″, 75″ reach
- Kingsbury: 6’4″, 79″ reach
Only Kingsbury has had measurements close to the 6’4″ height and 84.5″ reach of Jones… and that’s Kyle Kingsbury. With all due respect, he’s not the kind of fighter who’s going to make the most efficient usage of his reach.
I highly recommend reading Jack Slack’s analysis of Teixeira’s striking. In a recent piece on Fightland and an older piece on Bloody Elbow, he makes it clear that Teixeira uses the same striking technique repeatedly: the cross counter. Landing that is a lot easier against a fighter with a 74″ reach than it would be against Jones.
My expectation is that Jones will make Teixeira look a lot like Jackson or Rashad Evans. Jones will use his length to control the distance and land strikes while staying too far away to be countered. In other words, Teixeira will land strikes from time to time but not nearly enough to win rounds. A knockout is theoretically in play but Jones has never been knocked down before, let alone knocked out. As hard as Teixeira hits, he can’t be considered a favorite to win by knockout if he lands (my best guess) 40-50 significant strikes in five rounds.
I also think it’s possible that Jones could take Teixeira down. We haven’t seen Teixeira get taken down yet in the UFC but he’s only faced one wrestler (Ryan Bader) who only attempted one takedown. In that respect, Teixeira’s takedown defense is like Travis Browne’s before he fought Fabricio Werdum: perfect so far but relatively untested. With that said, Teixeira is excellent on the ground and probably would be able to get back to his feet.
Either way, I don’t see Teixeira having an answer for Jones’ reach and volume striking, and I don’t think he has enough of a chance to finish to make up for it. It’s an interesting fight because of how well Teixeira has performed in the UFC so far, but Jones is just at a much different level than the caliber of opponent Teixeira has faced to this point.
Pick: Jon Jones by decision