The Fight Horizon, Championship Edition – Jon Jones vs. Glover Teixeira

In today’s Mixed Martial Arts, new fights are announced so often it’s difficult to keep track of all of them, let alone understand how they came about and what the implications are. So twice a week here at The Fight Horizon on Inside Fights, writer Daniel Sohn takes a quick, but in-depth look at newly announced match-ups to mark on your calendar.

The Matchup:

Glover Teixeira (22-2 overall, 5-0 in the UFC)

Strengths: KO power, fearless fighting style, underrated submissions

Weaknesses: A little too vulnerable while striking

Jon Jones (19-1 overall, 13-1 in the UFC)

Strengths: Vicious muay-thai, long and rangy, skill set of a champion

Weaknesses: Boxing

The Date:  Undecided, sometime around Superbowl weekend 2014

Weight Class: Light-Heavyweight

What led to it: Before Jones’s epic victory over Alexander Gustafsson, and the back and forth talk about a likely rematch, the next title challenger was already decided. There’s no one else in the division, with the exception of maybe Phil Davis, that makes any sense as the next guy to challenge Jones for a title. Indeed, Teixeira may be the last guy in the division besides Gustafsson that has actually earned a shot at Jones and has the potential to beat him. Teixeira has looked amazing in his UFC run, finishing fights by both KO and submission.

Why it matters:  Jones already has the record for most title defenses in UFC Light-Heavyweight history. Now it’s a matter of chasing other records. Most consecutive title defenses in the UFC? It’s within reach. There are arguably three champions in the UFC who have a legitimate shot at tying and surpassing Anderson Silva’s 10 consecutive title defenses and Jon Jones is one of them (bonus points if you can guess the other two). Out of those three, Jones has the strongest potential to do it and do it in the most emphatic way.

Jon Jones is that good. He has the potential, the very real ability to go down as the greatest MMA fighter to have ever competed in the sport. That’s what we’re talking about when we talk about Jon Jones. Not “when will he start finishing opponents?” or “will he avenge that last defeat?” or “when he will come back from that long injury layoff?”.

If the Anderson Silva loss taught him anything, which according to Jones it definitely did, then it should tell Jones he is always vulnerable. That fight against Gustafsson did show that. He can’t overlook anyone, at any time, in any fight. He could lose from one punch, one kick, one slip, one mistake. But if he doesn’t, if he continues this streak of dominance, then every fight that passes with Jones defending successfully will be one closer to that record. One more closer to holding that streak that in all likelihood won’t be broken for a very, very long time. One more victory to reach that plateau, the cementing legacy that would support the inarguable fact that Jon Jones would be the best of all time.

In order to accomplish that, Jones is going to have to beat Teixeira first and if he does, he’ll probably have to rematch at least one fighter, and possibly more. For every fighter, especially champions, the only fight that matters is the next one. Gustafsson is in the past now. Teixeira is in the future. If Jones wants to build his legacy, he’s got to take care of one person and one person only: Glover Teixeira.

With all that being said, Glover Teixeira is the guy now. The guy that’s next. The guy that has a chance to put an end to the Jon Jones legend. Alexander Gustafsson came very close to doing it. He showed flaws in Jones’s game, showed weaknesses to be exploited, avenues to pursue. Teixeira has the ability to finish anyone on a given night, and he’s going to test himself against the best in the world now. He can shut down all of it, all of the hype, the accolades and recognition, the GOAT talk. That’s got to be a huge motivator because if he does that to one of the best ever, then what does that make Teixeira? Weidman’s victory over Silva is tainted because Silva invited disaster with his antics. Jones will do no such thing and if Glover Teixeira wins, he’ll do it because he’s better. For how good Jon Jones is, someone being better than him is a terrifying thought. Teixeira is the guy now. He’ll have his chance to prove it.

Lost in all of this is the similarity between Teixeira and Jones. Glover looks a lot like Jones did when he got started in the UFC. They both demolished the competition and worked their way to deserved title shots. But it’s the differences that makes for compelling drama. Jones wants to add to his legacy. Glover wants to start his. We got one hell of a fight to look forward to ladies and gents.

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