UFC Fight Night Report: Glover Teixeira submits Thiago Santos in a wild main event
On Saturday night, the UFC hosted its first Fight Night event of November at the Apex facility in Las Vegas, Nevada. The main event featured a bout between light heavyweight contenders Thiago Santos and Glover Teixeira. This particular fight had been scheduled twice previously, but both bouts fell apart due to each fighter testing positive for COVID-19. Santos had been inactive since his split decision loss to then-champion, Jon Jones, in July of 2019. In that bout, Santos tore the ACL, PCL, MCL, and meniscus in his left leg, and partially tore his right ACL as well. Obviously, these were severe injuries, and this fight would be a good indicator of his recovery. For Teixeira, many wrote him off after knockout losses to Anthony Johnson and Alexander Gustafsson, but Teixeira (now 41) has climbed his way back to the top of the division on a four-fight win streak, which was capped off by a difficult-to-watch beatdown of former title challenger, Anthony Smith. In the co-main event, former UFC Heavyweight Champion, Andrei Arlovski, stepped into the octagon for the 33rd time, to face Canadian heavyweight, Tanner Boser.
A middleweight fight between Ian Heinisch and Brendan Allen was scheduled for this card, but earlier in the day, Heinisch tested positive for COVID-19, and the fight was canceled.
The commentary team for the card consisted of Jon Anik and Dominick Cruz. Performance bonuses were awarded to Alexander Romanov and Giga Chikadze. Fight of the Night bonuses went out to Raoni Barcelos and Khalid Taha.
*Gustavo Lopez def. Anthony Birchak by rear-naked choke at 2:43 of Round 1
*Max Griffin def. Ramiz Brahimaj by TKO at 2:03 of Round 3
*Darren Elkins def. Eduardo Garagorri by rear-naked choke at 2:02 of Round 3
*Alexander Romanov def. Marcos Rogerio de Lima by forearm choke at 4:48 of Round 1
*Trevin Giles def. Bevon Lewis by TKO at 1:26 of Round 3
*Xiaonan Yan def. Claudia Gadelha by unanimous decision (29-28 all)
*Giga Chikadze def. Jamey Simmons by TKO at 3:51 of Round 1
*Raoni Barcelos def. Khalid Taha by unanimous decision (30-27 all)
*Andrei Arlovski def. Tanner Boser by unanimous decision (29-28 all)
*Glover Teixeira def. Thiago Santos by rear-naked choke at 1:49 of Round 3
GUSTAVO LOPEZ (11-5, 136) VS ANTHONY BIRCHAK (16-6, 136) – BANTAMWEIGHT
Lopez cracked Birchak with a pair of hooks early that rocked Birchak badly. He took Birchak down, but Birchak managed to recover and make it back to his feet. Lopez took Birchak down and quickly moved into top mount. He landed a number of ground and pound strikes that made Birchak cover up and give up his back, and Lopez capitalized by sinking in the rear-naked choke to finish the fight.
WINNER: Gustavo Lopez by rear-naked choke at 2:43 of Round 1
Both fighters were aggressive from the beginning of the fight, but Lopez landed with more power and controlled the action when he took it to the ground. Lopez’s first fight in the UFC was against Merab Dvalishvili, which is a very tough first outing, and we got to see a clearer picture of his abilities here.
MAX GRIFFIN (15-8, 170) VS RAMIZ BRAHIMAJ (8-2, 170) – WELTERWEIGHT
Griffin was the aggressor early, as Brahimaj sat back and waited for a moment to uncork his right hand. Griffin’s output slowed as the round progressed, but he remained the busier fighter, and he avoided most of Brahimaj’s counter shots. Both men were fighting behind their jab, but it was a 1-2 from Griffin late in the round that probably sealed it for him. 10-9 Griffin.
Moments into the second round, Griffin threw a kick that landed below the belt, and Brahimaj collapsed in pain. The fight was paused as he was given time to recover. Both men continued to fight behind their jab when the action resumed. Griffin landed a solid right hand about halfway through the round. Brahimaj’s face was starting to show the effects of the fight, as he was bleeding from his nose. Griffin landed another strong right hand, and this was definitely a Griffin round. 20-18 Griffin.
Brahimaj knocked Griffin off-balance with an early jab. Brahimaj ate another kick that landed low. When the fight resumed, Brahimaj continued to work that jab and he cut Griffin open next to his right eye. Griffin caught Brahimaj with a 1-2 that stumbled him and attempted to take him down. Brahimaj defended the attempt but ate an elbow that landed right on his ear. It took a second for everybody to realize the effects of the elbow, but it soon became apparent that Brahimaj’s ear was literally on the verge of falling off. Referee Mark Smith stopped the fight the second he noticed the injury.
WINNER: Max Griffin by TKO at 2:03 of Round 3
Well, that was gross. Brahimaj’s ear was hanging by a thread, and the UFC opted not to show many replays of the fight’s final moments. The fight started slow, but the action picked up as the fight progressed. Both men did a lot of damage with their jab, but it was Griffin who incorporated those straight rights and 1-2’s into his attack for greater effect. In Griffin’s post-fight interview, he called out Carlos Condit and Vicente Luque. Griffin is now 4-6 in the UFC.
DARREN ELKINS (24-9, 145.5) VS EDUARDO GARAGORRI (13-1, 145.5) – FEATHERWEIGHT
Elkins lifted Garagorri up and dumped him to the ground early. Garagorri picked himself up against the cage, but he was dragged right back down. This sequence repeated itself twice, as Elkins accumulated four takedowns throughout the first half of the round. Garagorri attempted to defend a single leg takedown from Elkins with a pro-wrestling style enzuigiri, but it didn’t quite work out. With a minute remaining in the round he managed to separate from Elkins, but Elkins brought Garagorri to the ground one last time after a head kick attempt. 10-9 Elkins.
Garagorri was landing some decent shots at the beginning of the second round, including a pair of hard straight lefts, but he wasn’t able to keep Elkins off of him for long. Despite Elkins continuing to rack up the control time, this was a better round for Garagorri. He landed a number of uppercuts throughout the round that seemed to hurt Elkins every time they landed, as well as a strong body kick. Still, Elkins got another big slam near the end of the round and probably won this round as well. 20-18 Elkins.
Garagorri caught Elkins with a counter left hook early, and another strong uppercut. He landed an elbow as Elkins attempted to close the distance. He appeared to have Elkins hurt following a combination of strikes, but he tried to end it with a knee up the middle, and this gave Elkins the in he needed to bring the fight back to his comfort zone. He climbed up Garagorri’s back, and locked in the rear-naked choke, forcing Garagorri to tap out.
WINNER: Darren Elkins by rear-naked choke at 2:02 of Round 3
After dominating early, things were beginning to look rough for Elkins, but that’s not exactly foreign territory to him. This was a must-win fight for Elkins, following four consecutive losses, and he got it done. His five takedowns in the first round was a record for the UFC featherweight division, and he now holds the UFC featherweight record for most total takedowns at 48.
ALEXANDER ROMANOV (12-0, 260) VS MARCOS ROGERIO DE LIMA (17-6-1, 258) – HEAVYWEIGHT
Romanov took De Lima to the ground following a pair of leg kicks. De Lima escaped and landed a number of short hooks as Romanov attempted to close the distance. De Lima landed another leg kick, and he attacked the body with a right hand. De Lima defended two more takedown attempts from Romanov, but Romanov finally got him back down in the center of the octagon. He landed some strong ground and pound strikes from side control, and proceeded to push his forearm into De Lima’s throat until De Lima passed out.
WINNER: Alexander Romanov by forearm choke at 4:48 of Round 1
De Lima did a good job of keeping it on the feet for the majority of the round, but the second Romanov took him down, he dominated. Romanov didn’t have that much time left to work, but he didn’t need it. I’m not sure I’ve seen many forearm chokes previously, but this was apparently the third one of Romanov’s career. At 13-0, with 13 finishes, Romanov is a legitimate prospect at heavyweight. He called out Marcin Tybura in his post-fight interview, the man he was originally scheduled to make his UFC debut against.
TREVIN GILES (12-2, 185.5) VS BEVON LEWIS (7-2, 185) – MIDDLEWEIGHT
They wrestled in the clinch early, and Giles connected with a left hand as they separated. He immediately reengaged Lewis in the clinch, and both men landed on the break this time. Giles loaded up on a big uppercut as Lewis attempted a takedown, but neither fighter found success. Giles knocked Lewis down with a powerful jab and ended the round in top position. 10-9 Giles.
The second round was slow, but Giles was out landing Lewis, and he managed to avoid almost all of Lewis’s shots. Giles kept Lewis hesitant with feints and appeared to be the quicker fighter whenever they traded. The jab continued to land for Giles, although there was rarely anything behind it. 20-18 Giles.
Lewis was more aggressive to begin the third round, but he slowed down after Giles countered him a couple of times. Giles stuffed a takedown and swarmed Lewis when they got up. He hurt Lewis with a 1-2 against the cage and then threw a pair of right hands that downed Lewis.
WINNER: Trevin Giles by TKO at 1:26 of Round 3
As Giles pointed out in his post-fight interview, there was a huge speed difference here, and Lewis was in control of this fight from the first round until the finish. This was probably his best performance in a while, and his jab was on point all fight long. With this win, Giles improved to 4-2 in the UFC.
CLAUDIA GADELHA (18-4, 115.5) VS XIAONAN YAN (12-1, 1 NC, 115.5) – STRAWWEIGHT
Yan lit Gadelha up with quick 1-2’s to begin the fight, but Gadelha backed her up with a hard jab and took her to the ground. Yan got back to her feet but was unable to separate from the clinch against the cage. She defended Gadelha’s subsequent takedown attempts, and they exchanged knees to the body. They were eventually separated, and Gadelha brought Yan back to the ground with a single leg. They exchanged strong elbows on the ground to end the round. 10-9 Gadelha.
Both women landed in the pocket at the beginning of the second round. Yan landed a solid left hook and kept Gadelha at range with her jab. Every time Gadelha attempted to close the distance, she was getting caught. She began to find a home for her right hand a bit more as the round progressed, but by and large, Yan continued to edge out the battle on the feet. She defended a takedown attempt from Gadelha to end the round. 19-19.
Gadelha wasted no time in closing the distance, pressing Yan against the cage to begin the third. Yan managed to create some separation and defended another takedown attempt from Gadelha. She was tagging Gadelha on the feet, and Gadelha was doing her best to bring the fight back to the ground. She racked up some control time against the cage, but they have separated yet again with about a minute remaining. Yan ended the round strong with a number of strikes landing clean to the exhausted Claudia Gadelha. 29-28 Yan.
WINNER: Xiaonan Yan by unanimous decision (29-28 all)
Xiaonan Yan is now 6-0 in the UFC, and she will likely be facing a top-five opponent next. She clearly held an advantage here on the feet, and did a good job of keeping the fight there, especially as Gadelha’s cardio began to fail her. Women’s strawweight is a deep division, and there is no shortage of opponents to match her up against in her next bout. Ideally, I would say that one of the former champions of the division would be a sensible next step for her, whether that be Carla Esparza, Joanna Jędrzejczyk, or Rose Namajunas.
GIGA CHIKADZE (11-2, 145) VS JAMEY SIMMONS (7-2, 146) – FEATHERWEIGHT
Chikadze was a -900 favorite going into this fight.
Simmons was biting on Chikadze’s feints, but he kept his distance so Chikadze never really had the opportunity to land anything. Chikadze defended a pair of takedown attempts. Chikadze connected with a hard-left kick to the body, and he proceeded to go high with the next one, and it dropped Simmons hard. Chikadze finished the fight with follow up shots on the ground.
WINNER: Giga Chikadze by TKO at 3:51 of Round 1
Coming into the UFC, Chikadze had finished each of his wins, and he finally picked up that highlight finish in the UFC. From his first fight in the promotion, some were looking at him as one of the most promising prospects on the rise, and he has lived up to expectations thus far, going 5-0 in the UFC, and looking better each fight. He called out Arnold Allen and Jeremy Stephens in his post-fight interview, asking for a main or co-main event slot in December.
RAONI BARCELOS (15-1, 135.5) VS KHALID TAHA (13-2, 1 NC, 135.5) – BANTAMWEIGHT
Barcelos knocked Taha off balance with an early leg kick, and again about a minute later. They were trading wildly in the pocket against the cage, and Barcelos began to unload with knees to the head. Taha backed him up with a counter hook, but he was taken down long thereafter. Barcelos took Taha’s back, and he searched for the rear-naked choke. Taha scrambled into top position with about a minute and a half remaining in the round. Barcelos attempted an armbar from the bottom, and they both scrambled to their feet. Taha defended a takedown attempt from Barcelos but ate another low kick, and a number of clean shots to the head to end the round. 10-9 Barcelos.
Barcelos landed a strong short left hook in the opening seconds of the round. Barcelos partially connected with a flying knee. The fight was paused after an inadvertent kick landed low from Barcelos. When the fight resumed, Barcelos landed a number of body shots, and a counter left hook that backed Taha up. Barcelos was really mixing up his attack, and it felt like he was overwhelming Taha. With about ten seconds left in the round, Barcelos landed a knee up the middle that rocked Taha, and he just proceeded to tee off on him until time expired. Taha was saved by the bell here. 20-18 Barcelos.
Barcelos got right back to it in the third round, chasing Taha down, landing at will, and taking Taha down. Taha scrambled back to his feet at the halfway point of the round, and they separated in the middle of the octagon. With a minute left in the round, they went back to trading in the pocket, and both men were landing strong shots here. Barcelos knocked Taha off balance yet again with a leg kick and defended a takedown attempt. Both men were exhausted, and they traded wildly in the middle of the cage to end the fight. 30-27 Barcelos
WINNER: Raoni Barcelos by unanimous decision (30-27 all)
This was a great fight. Barcelos fought at a crazy pace and didn’t rest on his lead in the third round. I can’t believe this fight went the distance, and credit has to go to Khalid Taha for hanging in there, and giving Barcelos a very tough fight. Barcelos asked for a ranked opponent in his next fight, and I don’t think that’s out of the realm of possibility at all. Bantamweight is stacked, but he is now 5-0 in the UFC and a tremendously entertaining fighter.
ANDREI ARLOVSKI (29-19, 2 NC, 244.5) VS TANNER BOSER (19-6-1, 232.5) – HEAVYWEIGHT
Boser was active with the leg kicks early in the fight. Boser land a left hand, that was probably his most significant strike of a slow round. Boser kept attacking the legs, and Arlovski tried to go high with some kicks of his own. Arlovski landed a hard-right hand as time expired. Dominick Cruz was making no effort to disguise his disappointment with the first round of the fight on commentary. Very dull round, 10-9 Boser.
Arlovski attempted another sidekick to the face about two minutes into the second round. Dominick Cruz’s commentary continued to be the most entertaining part of the fight, as he questioned how either corner could be happy with their fighter. They exchanged hard right hands. Both men landed leg kicks, although Boser had a higher output. Time expired. Arlovski landed hard at the bell again. I had it 19-19, but believe me, this round could have been scored either way.
Boser continued to attack Arlovski’s lead leg. There was some clear bruising on Arlovski’s leg. Arlovski landed a 1-2. Boser landed more leg kicks, and Arlovski backed Boser up with a flurry. They traded some shots late in the round. I gave the round to Arlovski. You could score this fight 30-27 Boser or 30-27 Arlovski, and I wouldn’t argue with you.
WINNER: Andrei Arlovski by unanimous decision (29-28 all)
As you may have gathered, I didn’t think highly of this fight. Both fighters were very inactive for large portions of the fight, and how you score it likely comes down to what you value more between output and power. Arlovski is 41-years old, and retirement doesn’t seem to be on his mind. He’s won three of his last four fights, and if nothing else, this run has shown that he is still a capable gatekeeper for the top fifteen.
THIAGO SANTOS (21-7, 205.5) VS GLOVER TEIXEIRA (31-7, 205.5) – LIGHT HEAVYWEIGHT
The fighters touched gloves to begin the fight. Santos was the aggressor early, and he landed a right hand that forced Glover to shoot. He defended the attempt and started throwing hook after hook, rocking Glover. Teixeira has been in this position multiple times throughout his last few fights, and he weathered the storm, before taking Santos down in the center of the octagon. He was doing great work from top position, moving from full mount to half guard, and landing a number of ground and pound strikes. Teixeira controlled the remainder of the round. I gave the round to Santos for hurting Glover early, but you could make a strong case for Teixeira as well.
Teixeira took Santos right back down to begin the second round. He moved into half guard, and he landed a number of strong strikes from this position. Glover controlled the entire round, and there were no questions about this one. He landed numerous strikes, and he locked in the rear-naked choke with seconds left in the round. Time expired before he could finish it, but Santos was saved by the bell here. I thought this was a 10-8 round for Teixeira.
Teixeira shot for a takedown seconds into the third round, but Santos stuffed it, and he dropped Glover with a huge left hook. He followed Teixeira to the ground and landed a number of strong ground and pound strikes, but Glover had no quit in him. Right when it looked like things were getting bad for him, Teixeira scrambled up, and took Santos right back down, quickly taking his back, sinking in the rear-naked choke, and he finished the fight as Santos tapped out. Wow.
WINNER: Glover Teixeira by rear-naked choke at 1:49 of Round 3
This fight was crazy. It only went twelve minutes, and in that span, Glover looked like he was on the verge of being finished about three times, almost secured a second-round rear-naked choke, and then finished the fight in the third, just moments after it looked like Santos might have finished the fight himself with his ground and pound! Glovers climb back to the top of the division has been remarkable, and with stoppage victories over former title challengers in Santos and Anthony Smith, he has more than earned a title shot. Unfortunately for him, a bout between the division’s champion Jan Błachowicz, and middleweight champion Isreal Adesanya is currently in the works for early 2021, so there is no guarantee he will actually see that title shot, especially in the case of an Adesanya win. Still, this was a huge moment for him, and he will be the number one ranked light heavyweight contender when the rankings are updated.