Recap: Smith vs Teixeira | UFC Fight Night on ESPN 9


The fight train after UFC 249 kept on rolling Wednesday night on ESPN+ with an amazing sleeper card headlined by light heavyweights Anthony Smith and Glover Teixeira. 


Smith, the heavy favorite going into the fight, looked sharp early, showing a significant speed advantage over Teixeira. He was landing the jab at will in the first two rounds and using it to set up the straight right. The combinations were opening up the body kicking game for Smith as well, and Teixeira looked overmatched for the opening round and a half. The speed and combinations of Smith made it look like he was in full control of the fight, and it was going to be a long night for the Brazilian


Photo Credit: MMA Junkie

A straight right from Smith in the 2nd round swelled up the left eye of Teixeira almost shut, but that was just what Teixeira needed to get himself into the fight. Teixeira immediately felt a sense of urgency and unleashed a flurry that backed Smith against the cage and put him in trouble, but the round ended and Smith survived. 

In the 3rd round, Teixeira landed a huge uppercut that severely swelled up Smith’s eye and had him backing up against the cage.  Teixeira chased him and knocked him down with a big right hook. Teixeira got on top and landed some ground strikes, but Smith managed to survive. The 3rd round was an incredible change in momentum. Smith looked to be in control until he walked into Teixeira’s combinations and was now barely hanging on by the skin of his teeth. 

Another huge uppercut from Teixeira started the 4th round and once again hurt Smith badly.  Smith was doing his best to stay on his feet and punch back, but he was on autopilot at this point.


Teixeira landed an easy takedown to close the 4th round and Smith somehow kept surviving the beatdown. 


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In between rounds 4 and 5, Smith could be heard telling his corner that his teeth were falling out, but his team let him continue the fight. It was a terrible idea for Smith to come out in the 5th round.  He could barely stand on his feet and was unable to provide any offense. He quickly ended up on his back again, and Teixeira got the easy mount and finished the fight with ground and pound at 1:04 of the 5th round. 

It was an incredible vintage performance by Teixeira and the best he had looked since his 20-fight winning streak before he fought Jon Jones in 2013. 



In the co-main event, Ben Rothwell welcomed Ovince Saint Preux to the heavyweight division. 


Rothwell looked patient and picked his spots carefully early in the 1st round, but when he landed, he did so with authority and let Saint Preux know about the power in the heavyweight division. Rothwell was doing a great job cutting off the cage for Saint Preux and used his physicality to clinch the smaller man against the cage and made him carry his weight. 

Saint Preux managed to display some offense in short bursts but more often found himself backing away and trying to reset to avoid clinching with Rothwell or getting pushed against the fence. Rothwell lands a powerful uppercut followed by a clinch to grind Saint Preux against the cage. 


Photo Credit: USA Today

Halfway through the fight, Saint Preux’s fatigue was visibly affecting him, and he could be heard panting for air. Still, he kept swinging and landing dangerous shots. As Rothwell moved in, Saint Preux landed a counter left hook that dropped, but Saint Preux wasn’t able to capitalize before the 2nd round ended.

In the 3rd round, Saint Preux landed dangerous strikes that stunned Rothwell once again, but the physicality of Rothwell was too overwhelming, and he kept pushing forward to cut the cage on a gassed Saint Preux

As the 10-second warning clapper sounded, both fighters began to trade leather, looking for the knockout that could have come for either man. The final shot of the fight from Saint Preux came as the buzzer sounded and knocked Rothwell down to a knee, but the match went to the judges’ scorecards.  Rothwell’s early work proved too much for Saint Preux and edged out the split decision victory. 


In the lightweight division, Alexander Hernandez faced Drew Dober in a fight full of fireworks.


Hernandez came out firing, setting up combinations with body kicks and 1-2 punches.  But in a crazy match full of momentum swings, whoever pushed forward was in control. As Dober pressed forward, he landed a solid left hook that cut Hernandez. Hernandez tried to mix it up, going for takedowns, but Dober was able to stuff him or keep the takedowns to a minimum. 

Photo Credit: CBS Sports

Round 2 pushed an even more frantic pace with both fighters throwing big punches looking for the knockout. Dober landed the better shots and briefly knocked Hernandez down with a flurry of punches. As a wobbled Hernandez made his way back up, he landed a desperate takedown to stay alive.  Dober rose to his feet and continued to work the hands-on a dazed Hernandez who went for another takedown but couldn’t hang on. Dober relentlessly teed off on Hernandez and overwhelmed him with a bevy of strikes. Referee Herb Dean called it a standing TKO at 4:25 of round 2.

The win now makes it three in a row for Dober, and he will now take Hernandez’s place in the top-15 rankings in the UFC lightweight division.


Ricky Simon and Ray Borg also had a fun fight in the bantamweight division. 


Both fighters were willing to trade combinations to start the fight. Borg showed excellent speed to land solid combinations, but he didn’t seem to be able to get into a groove where he could let his hands go enough to take control of the fight.  Simon was simply more active in the striking department, which opened up the takedowns for him. Although Borg eventually found his way back up each time, the size of Simon was taking a toll on the smaller Borg

By the 3rd round, Borg was implementing several power shots to the body of Simon that looked very effective, but Simon could always regain control with the takedowns. 

Although Simon couldn’t get the finish he was looking for, he had an impressive performance Wednesday. The judges gave him a split decision victory. 


In other heavyweight action, UFC veteran Andrei Arlovski welcomed former PFL heavyweight champion, Philipe Lins, to the UFC. 


Lins was backing up Arlovski early and generating some offense, but Arlovski managed to keep the fight under control. In round 2, Arlovski landed a few combinations and pushed the pace until an accidental kick to the groin by Lins. The referee paused the action to allow for recovery, which slowed the pace of Arlovski

By the 3rd round, Arlovski played some distance management and picked shots carefully to seal a safe decision victory over the newcomer. 


The main card opened with lightweights Michael Johnson and Thiago Moises. 


Johnson’s striking looked sharp in round 1, walking down Moises and landing excellent combinations to the head and body.  He pushed a fast pace and had good ring generalship, cutting off the cage and keeping Moises against the fence. Johnson quickly took the opening frame and looked great doing it. Unfortunately for him, he wasn’t even able to get started in round 2. Moises immediately went for a single leg takedown that Johnson was defending well, but Moises pulled guard and clung on to Johnson’s right leg. Moises quickly secured the straight ankle lock submission and got the victory at 0:25 round 2.


The highlight of the preliminary card was a bantamweight fight between Brian Kelleher and Hunter Azure.  


Azure came out aggressively early on, displaying a tasty variety of striking combinations.  Kelleher was trying to disrupt Azure’s striking by going for takedowns early, but Azure did an excellent job of stuffing them. This forced Kelleher to engage in the striking department, and his good feints opened it up for him, but Azure was landing the better strikes.

In the 2nd round, Kelleher did a better job finding his range, and he started to loosen up.  The leg kicking game proved efficient for Kelleher, as it seemed to slow down Azure slightly, but the two were teeing off, going back and forth in a wild brawl. 


Photo Credit: MMA Junkie

In the closing sequence, Kelleher landed a sturdy left hook that put Azure down to the mat, followed by two hammer fists to knock him out cold. It was a highlight-reel knockout for Kelleher at 3:40 of round 2.

Perhaps the fact that the UFC is the only sports league putting on shows is what’s bringing out the best in these fighters. Or maybe it’s the tradition that the little cards that could always deliver. Whatever the case may be, Wednesday’s Fight Night was a gem, and we can only hope they keep this going for Saturday’s card on ESPN.



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