The co-main event of UFC Fight Night 78 is a light heavyweight matchup between #4 ranked Glover Teixeira and #9 ranked Patrick “Durkin” Cummins. A win for Teixeira would move him one step closer to another shot at the light heavyweight title, while a win for Cummins would undoubtedly be the biggest win of his career. Glover Teixeira (23-4 MMA, 6-2 MMA, -440 favorite) The 36 year old was often referred to as Chuck Liddell’s secret weapon when Liddell was reigning over the UFC’s light heavyweight division. The Brazilian would have been in the UFC years prior to his 2012 arrival but he had visa issues that prevented him from fighting in the United States. With his issues finally resolved, Teixeira made his debut at UFC 146 in May of 2012. His debut was a statement to the rest of the division, as he starched veteran Kyle Kingsbury in less than two minutes. Following his win over Kingsbury, Teixeira knocked off Fabio Maldonado, Rampage Jackson, James Te Huna, and Ryan Bader. Those wins earned him a title shot against then champion Jon Jones, who soundly defeated Teixeira by unanimous decision at UFC 172. The next fight on Teixeira’s docket was against Phil Davis at UFC 179 in Brazil, which he lost by unanimous decision. Teixeira showed up for that fight heavy and out of shape, and it cost him the match. However, those back-to-back losses reinvigorated Teixeira for his next outing against Ovince Saint Preux, who came into the contest with a lot of momentum due to consecutive knockout wins over Mauricio Rua and Patrick Cummins. A noticeably leaner and more muscular Teixeira dominated Saint Preux on the mat with his wrestling and jiu jitsu for two rounds and ultimately put Saint Preux to sleep with a rear-naked choke in the third. Teixeira is one of the most well-rounded fighters in the shallow light heavyweight division. Most of his offense on the feet comes from his hands, as he throws very few kicks. Heavy hooks with both hands and right uppercuts are the order of the day for the Brazilian, and he throws them with fight ending intentions. Teixeira would likely benefit from throwing more jabs, kicks, and straight punches, but we have not seen him implement those tools into his game as of yet. The most underrated aspect of Teixeira’s game is his wrestling. He has solid double and single leg takedowns, which he sets up nicely with punches. Once top position is obtained, Teixeira is all about ending the fight by any means necessary. His ground and pound is relentless and he has an arsenal of chokes at his disposal as well. The biggest questions surrounding Teixeira are his advanced age and what kind of shape he comes into this fight in. If he comes into this fight out of shape again, he may be in for another long night. Patrick Cummins (8-2 MMA, 4-2 UFC, +350 underdog) The story of how Patrick Cummins entered the UFC is well documented. The co-main event of UFC 170 was scheduled to be Daniel Cormier versus Rashad Evans. However, Evans blew his knee out a week before the fight and had to bow out of the contest. This opened the door for Cummins to throw his name into the hat, as he basically smack talked his way into the contest by claiming he once made Cormier cry during practice during their days on the U.S. national wrestling team. Up until that point Cummins was a struggling barista who could not find anyone that would fight him. He only was able to fight four times in four years due to fighters refusing to fight him due to his reputation as a monster in the gym. While Cummins got a UFC contract and the fight against Cormier, he was absolutely obliterated in just over a minute by the much more experienced and prepared “DC.” Since then, Cummins has done quite well in the UFC, as he has compiled a respectable 4-2 record, including an absolute thrashing of former Strikeforce Light Heavyweight Champion Rafael Calvacante in August. He now looks to make his way into the top five of the division by defeating the much more experienced and savvy Teixeira. Cummins is the prototypical wrestler/grinder that wears down his opponents with constant pressure, takedowns, and top control. Even when his takedowns are not successful he still makes his opponents work, which taxes their cardio and makes takedowns easier in the later rounds. The former Division One All-American wrestler uses a variety of takedowns in the Octagon. Blast doubles, singles, and body lock trips are common techniques employed by the former Penn State graduate. Once he establishes top position, he is relentless with his pressure and ground and pound. While his punches from top position are not overly powerful, they accumulate damage over time. His sheer determination and tenacity often breaks his opponents, such was the case in his last fight against Calvacante. Cummins’ offensive submission game is still a work in progress, as one would expect from someone with only 10 pro fights. While Cummins’ grappling chops are quite good, his striking and defense are quite poor. He offers very little offense on the feet other than a jab, straight right, and an occasional leg kick, all of which have little power. He is yet to find a comfort zone while on the feet, which is something that got him in trouble against more experienced strikers like Cormier and Saint Preux. The 34-year old needs to improve on his ability to set up his takedowns with strikes, as he is sorely lacking in that realm. His opponents know his gameplan is to close the distance as fast as possible and grind them out. Cummins will be in serious trouble against fighters that can keep him at range with distance strikes and stuff his takedowns when he does close the distance. Additionally, his chin is shaky at best and he bruises and bleeds easily, which does not look good in the eyes of the judges. Thoughts When I first heard this fight was announced I immediately thought that it was a really bad matchup for Cummins. Cummins is an improving fighter, but he has gaping holes in his game that a veteran like Teixeira will likely capitalize on. Cummins’ porous striking defense and questionable chin will surely be tested by the heavy-handed Brazilian. Cummins will look to time Teixeira’s big hooks and duck under them for a takedown. However, Teixeira’s solid wrestling chops and Cummins’ inability to set up his takedowns with strikes should propel Teixeira to victory as long as he shows up in shape. The Brazilian will catch the former All-American wrestler with a heavy left hook in one of the first two rounds and finish him off on the mat with one of the many chokes he has in his toolbox. The Prediction: Glover Teixeira defeats Patrick Cummins by submission (rear-naked choke, round 1)
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