UFC Fight Night: Santos vs. Teixeira Preview

A preview of Saturday’s UFC Vegas 13 card, set to take place in Las Vegas.

Updated: Nov. 5, 2020 • 3:51 PM ET

Andrei Arlovski is looking to reclaim a spot in the heavyweight rankings.

A light heavyweight bout with major title implications will headline the UFC’s return to the Apex in Las Vegas this Saturday for UFC Vegas 13, as former title challenger Thiago Santos will fight unbreakable veteran Glover Teixeira.

Santos, the No. 1 ranked light heavyweight contender in the world, has not fought since a split-decision loss to Jon Jones for the title at UFC 239 in July 2019. Prior to the loss, Santos found success in the light heavyweight division, putting together a four-fight winning streak heading into the bout. However, the 36-year-old Santos suffered a leg injury in the fight with Jones, fighting most of the bout on one leg. It’s interesting to think about how the bout would have played out if Santos was able to fight without injury.

Santos has fought in the UFC since 2013, collecting key victories at middleweight and light heavyweight over Elias Theodorou, Nate Marquardt, Jack Hermansson, Anthony Smith, Kevin Holland, Eryk Anders, Jimi Manuwa and current champion Jan Blachowicz. If the Brazilian can defeat the No. 3 ranked Teixeira, he would be a logical choice to challenge Blachowicz for the title after defeating him by TKO in February 2019, which was the champion’s last loss. However, UFC president Dana White stated last weekend that the first fighter to challenge Blachowicz for the title will be middleweight champion Israel Adesanya, so Santos will have to play the waiting game should he win on Saturday.

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While few people will be upset at the idea of Adesanya moving up to challenge for a second belt, the UFC has a built-in storyline with a Blachowicz vs. Santos title fight. Unfortunately, those organic storylines come in a distant second to a fighter on the rise seeking “champ champ” status.

The good news for Santos is that if he defeats Teixeira, it will give him his ninth victory since the start of 2017. The question is, however, how long would he have to wait for a shot at gold?

Teixeira is riding a four-fight winning streak, most recently defeating Anthony Smith by fifth-round TKO in May. He was badly hurt in the fight, but the 41-year-old Teixeira proved he’s as durable as ever.

Fighting in the UFC since 2012, Teixeira could be one win away from challenging for the light heavyweight title for a second time, six years after he came up short in his first title bid. The Brazilian challenged Jones for the title at UFC 172 in 2014 after starting 5-0 in the promotion.

Despite ultimately losing by unanimous decision to Jones, Teixeira has key victories over some of the best fighters in the game. Including Smith, he has wins over Quinton “Rampage” Jackson, Ryan Bader, Ovince Saint Preux, Rashad Evans, Jared Cannonier, Misha Cirkunov and Nikita Krylov.

With a win on Saturday, Teixeira would leapfrog Santos in the rankings, but he would also be a likely candidate to play the waiting game for a title shot. It’s crazy to think about a 41-, possibly 42-year-old challenging for the light heavyweight title, but Teixeira could be that guy with a win over Santos. If that happens, he would be the oldest fighter to challenge for the belt since Randy Couture won it in 2003 at 40 years old.

Co-main event

Saturday’s co-main event will be a heavyweight bout between former champion Andrei Arlovski and prospect Tanner Boser.

The 41-year-old Arlovski just won’t stop silencing the critics that say he should retire. While he’s 2-2 in his last four fights, Arlovski is coming off a unanimous decision win over prospect Philipe Lins. He’s also a close, split-decision loss to contender Augusto Sakai away from being 3-1 in his last four and still a part of the heavyweight rankings.

The Belarusian fighter has experienced major highs and lows since debuting in the UFC in 2000, but he continues to show that he still has the skills to compete in the UFC’s heavyweight division. In his career, Arlovski has victories over Tim Sylvia, Fabricio Werdum, Ben Rothwell (twice), Roy Nelson, Antonio Silva, Travis Browne, Frank Mir and Stefan Struve. While his career has lasted two decades, there are no signs, for the time being, that this fight will be his last — win or lose.

Meanwhile, Boser (19-6-1) has won two straight fights over Lins (knockout) and Raphael Pessoa (TKO). He’s 3-1 in the UFC, but Arlovski will be the biggest name Boser has fought to date. Fighting professionally since 2012, Boser has a chance to prove he is a contender in the heavyweight division this weekend.

What Boser has proven since arriving in the UFC in October 2019 is that he has slick movement for a heavyweight with plenty of power. Should he connect early with heavy strikes on Arlovski, the fight will be in his favor; but if Arlovski can extend the fight to later rounds, there could be a better chance that victory slips through Boser’s fingers.

 

The rest of the main card on ESPN+ at 10 p.m. EST

Bantamweight bout - Raoni Barcelos vs. Khalid Taha

Middleweight bout - No. 15 Ian Heinisch vs. Brendan Allen

Women’s strawweight bout - No. 4 Claudia Gadelha vs. No. 8 Yan Xiaonan

 

Prelims on ESPN+ at 7 p.m. EST

Middleweight bout - Trevin Giles vs. Bevon Lewis

Featherweight bout - Giga Chikadze vs. Jamey Simmons

Heavyweight bout - Alexandr Romanov vs. Marcos Rogerio de Lima

Featherweight bout - Darren Elkins vs. Eduardo Garagorri

Welterweight bout - Max Griffin vs. Ramiz Brahimaj

Bantamweight bout - Gustavo Lopez vs. Anthony Birchak

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