Tagged in: UFC

Teixeira dominant in fifth-round TKO of Smith

One day, Glover Teixeira will cease to be one of the world’s best light heavyweight MMA fighters. That day was not Wednesday.

Eighteen years after his pro debut, Teixeira proved his caliber yet again in the main event of UFC Jacksonville, beating Anthony Smith via TKO at 1 minute, 4 seconds of the fifth round. Teixeira, at 40 years old and six years after his most recent title shot, has won four straight fights.

“It’s not how hard you hit,” Teixeira told Daniel Cormier in the postfight interview. “It’s how hard you get hit and keep coming forward.”

Teixeira laid plenty of hard hits on Smith, who was transported to a hospital and told ESPN’s Ariel Helwani afterward that he suffered a broken nose and a broken orbital bone and had two of his teeth knocked out, including one of his front teeth. The card took place at an empty VyStar Veterans Memorial Arena in Jacksonville, Florida.

It was the second UFC event in four days, following UFC 249 on Saturday at the same venue. The promotion caps its busy eight-day stretch with another show from VyStar on Saturday. Before last weekend, UFC had not run an event since March 14 due to the coronavirus pandemic.

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Smith vs. Teixeira was supposed to headline a UFC card on April 25 in Lincoln, Nebraska, before the schedule was reshuffled.

Smith had a strong first two rounds Wednesday, using a very good jab and right hand, which found its home over and over. Teixeira’s left eye began to swell.

But in the third, Teixeira turned the tide. He landed a big combination with a head kick against the cage and a monstrous uppercut seconds later. A Teixeira uppercut put Smith down. The bout could have been stopped there, but referee Jason Herzog let it continue and Smith survived the rest of the round.

Teixeira got Smith down in the fifth, slipped into mount and rained down huge punches until Herzog stopped the fight. It was only the second fifth-round TKO in UFC light heavyweight history. The other featured Alexander Gustafsson stopping Teixeira in the final round of their 2017 bout.

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Gaethje batters Ferguson to win UFC interim title

Two months ago, Justin Gaethje was training and waiting for the UFC to find his next rival.

On Saturday night, after accepting a short notice opportunity to compete in the UFC 249 main event, he stopped Tony Ferguson by TKO in the fifth round to become interim lightweight champion, setting up an inevitable showdown with Khabib Nurmagomedov later this year.

It was a jaw-dropping show, as Gaethje punished Ferguson round after round before finally putting him away with less than two minutes remaining in the combat.

“I knew I was a killer stepping in here,” Gaethje said about his performance. “No better drug on Earth. Adrenaline coursing through my veins.”

Following two consecutive losses, Gaethje started making noticeable changes to his strategy and approach to fighting without sacrificing any of his highlight-reel finishes.

It was more of the same at UFC 249 as he attacked Ferguson with devastating power behind his punches while refusing to engage in the wild exchanges that cost him so dearly in many past fights.

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“I had to lose to change,” Gaethje stated. “Can’t fix what’s not broken. I was getting hit too much, and I was having too much fun. At this level you absolutely cannot do that.”

While Ferguson did manage to put Gaethje down briefly at the end of the second round with a staggering uppercut, the former Ultimate Fighter winner failed to mount much offense over 25 minutes. He did display incredible durability, though, as he absorbed punches that would have likely knocked out every other lightweight on the roster.

Gaethje’s controlled aggression continued to add to his significant strike total as he cut up Ferguson’s face and left him a bloody mess by the fifth round. It was a stiff jab late in the fight that rattled Ferguson for the final time, and as he wobbled backwards toward the cage shaking his head, that forced referee Herb Dean to stop the fight.

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Ferguson, Gaethje make weight for UFC’s return

Tony Ferguson and Justin Gaethje both made weight Friday ahead of their fight for the interim lightweight title at UFC 249 on Saturday. 

According to ESPN’s Marc Raimondi, both Ferguson and Gaethje weighed in at 155 pounds in Jacksonville, Florida, which is where UFC 249 will take place.

The event is set to be held at VyStar Veterans Memorial Arena with no fans in attendance due to the coronavirus pandemic. UFC 249 will mark the first event from the organization since UFC Fight Night: Lee vs. Oliveira on March 14 in Brazil.

Ferguson and Gaethje had been expected to headline UFC 249 on April 18, but the event was postponed after UFC President Dana White said he was told to “stand down” by ESPN.

The fight is a replacement for the originally scheduled bout of Ferguson vs. UFC Lightweight champion Khabib Nurmagomedov, who has been unable to travel outside of Dagestan, Russia, due to travel bans brought on by COVID-19.

With Khabib unable to fight currently, the winner of Ferguson vs. Gaethje will go on to face him at a later date to determine the UFC Lightweight champion.

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The 36-year-old Ferguson is the No. 1 contender for the title. He owns a career professional record of 25-3 with 12 victories by way of knockout and eight by submission. He is on a 12-fight winning streak, with his last two victories coming over Donald “Cowboy” Cerrone and Anthony Pettis.

Gaethje, 31, is the fourth-ranked lightweight and owns a career record of 21-2 with 18 of those victories coming by knockout. Gaethje lost two fights in a row to Eddie Alvarez and Dustin Poirier in 2017 and 2018 but has since bounced back to win three consecutive, including a knockout victory over Cerrone in September 2019.

Other major fights planned for UFC 249 include Henry Cejudo vs. Dominick Cruz for the UFC Bantamweight title, a heavyweight title eliminator between Francis Ngannou and Jairzinho Rozenstruik and a featherweight contest between Jeremy Stephens and Calvin Kattar.

Cejudo, Cruz, Ngannou, Rozenstruik and Kattar all made weight, but Stephens came in overweight, which could put his fight versus Kattar in jeopardy.

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