We are back with a short turnaround.
After several events were cancelled, the UFC is making an effort to rebook cancelled fights, so we have a Wednesday night of fights!
It is a little bit of a lackluster card, especially compared to the banger that was UFC 249, but I’m not complaining.
Anthony Smith vs. Glover Texeira (LHW)
Anthony Smith (32-14, 8-3 UFC) moved up to 205 pounds after a loss to Thiago Santos at Middleweight. His 3-0 record at LHW got him a shot against Jones where he lasted to the decision, despite taking an illegal knee from Jones and refusing to receive the DQ win. “Lionheart” is no stranger to the knockout, with 18 wins by that on his record. Two of his LHW wins came through knockouts within the first two minutes of the match. On top of dangerous striking, Smith has great submission potential, although not always carrying the wrestling threat to get it there.
Perennial contender Glover Texeira (30-7, 13-5 UFC) has a terrific jiu-jitsu and grappling base that he uses to implement control. What led him to a five-fight win streak in the UFC was the combination of that with his striking, amounting for 17 of his 25 total finishes. Glover is a dangerous fighter in all areas and has immense skill for implementing ground control. However, he has struggled against fighters also able to mix it up well.
Anthony Smith’s black belt was being overlooked for quite some time, then he submitted Gustaffson. As great as I think Glover is at grappling, I just cannot see him controlling the larger Smith and imposing his own will. Texeira has consistently struggled when fighters can nullify his ground advantage and work in their own striking.
Take the Shot: Anthony Smith via Round 2 Knockout
Ovince St. Preux vs. Ben Rothwell (HW)
Ovince St. Preux (24-13, 12-8 UFC) has been around forever. OSP is one of the most experienced UFC Light Heavyweights. An extremely well-rounded fighter, OSP can knock you at in a second with kicks and also punches. However, his main strength is his ground game (hence the newly christened OSP choke). OSP has incredibly high fight IQ and fights expertly for a man of his age (37). The most notable advantage for OSP here will be recovery. He can switch his game immediately when he knows he is in trouble.
Ben Rothwell (37-12, 7-6 UFC) returned to the cage after three years in March only to lose to Blagoy Ivanov. Rothwell has POWER. Like not even regular one-shot power. Rothwell, Ngannou, and Overeem are on this next level of power, where looking at them makes you know you could hit the ground at any moment. “Big Ben” has 27 knockouts proving that and he has also tightened up his ground game in recent matches, putting 6 wins in by submission and proving he isn’t a one-dimensional fighter.
That said, Rothwell is notoriously slow and lumbering in the most slow and lumbering division. OSP’s move up to Heavyweight will provide him with wonders in speed, especially in comparison to Rothwell. The veteran should have no issue avoiding the haymakers of Rothwell and implementing his own gameplay.
Take the Shot: Ovince St-Preux via Round 2 Submission
Drew Dober vs. Alexander Hernandez (LW)
Drew Dober’s (22-9, 7-5 UFC) last defeat was in a submission of the year contender in March to Beneil Dariush. Since then, he has landed two brutal KOs, both in the first round. Dober is about as well-rounded as they come, using a combination of power striking and wrestling as his modus operandi in the cage. Although he is announced as a wrestler, we have not seen Dober use his wrestling much as of late, instead relying on his striking. His boxing is not to bad and he has scored seven knockouts over his pro career. Although he has an excellent chin, he would do well to lean on his wrestling for this match.
Alexander Hernandez (11-2, 3-1 UFC) was unproven and doubted when making his UFC debut against Beneil Dariush. He silenced everyone with a 42-second knockout in that match and followed it up with a decision over Olivier Aubin-Mercier before getting knocked out in the second by Cowboy Cerrone. “The Great” brings pressure and a sense of urgency with him in every fight, using his striking as a way to get inside and build on his wrestling game.
With some incredibly entertaining styles between these two fighters, we are set for a barn burner here. Hernandez looks to take the advantage with his wrestling, while Dober seems to me the more skillful on the feet and he is certainly helped by his power. With that said, Dober’s losses have come almost exclusively from grapplers and even though Hernandez had difficulty getting his strikes off against Trinaldo, he should be able to implement his movement and grappling better against Dober.
Take the Shot: Alexander Hernandez via Unanimous Decision
Bit of short list for this fight night, but we have another opportunity coming up on Saturday!
Regardless, a Smith-OSP-Hernandez parlay nets +430 odds at time of writing.
Tune in Thursday morning for the UFC on ESPN 8 picks for the event on Saturday!