Dubai: The big boys take centrestage as the UFC continue their series of fights in Las Vegas, Nevada on Saturday (Sunday UAE) when top gun Thiago Santos faces a resurgent Glover Teixeira in a light heavyweight contest that has major title implications.
Santos has built a reputation as one of the most aggressive strikers in the 205-pound division and will hope to brush aside the 41-year-old Teixeira and earn a title shot at interim champ and Polish powerhouse Jan Blachowicz.
The Brazilian posed Jon Jones a lot of problems in his loss but picked up injuries that forced him to take time off for a year to recuperate. It remains to be seen just how much he has recovered following the significant lay-off when he takes on the resilient Teixera.
“I went through a hard time, but now I feel a hundred percent, I feel good,” Santos said during a virtual media day scrum earlier this week.
“I’m so excited to be back. I thought maybe the UFC would try to put [in] another guy. But [we] just waited, you know.
“Glover’s a tough guy. He’s doing very well. Especially at this age.”
Looking ahead to a possible title-shot, Santos said: I need to win [against] Glover Teixeira. I need to do my best. Prove for everyone that I’m back, and I’m really the number one contender. We will see what’s going to happen after my fight. ”
With Teixeira having won four straight, he represents a big test for Santos in a fight that intended to be a title eliminator until UFC President Dana White confirmed that middleweight champion Israel Adesanya would be moving to light heavyweight to face the recently crowned Blachowicz.
In the co-main event, former UFC heavyweight champion Andrei Arlovski will be looking to stop Canadian Tanner Boser while No. 15 ranked middleweight contender Ian Heinisch faces Brendan Allen in a meeting of Dana White’s Contender Series veterans.
The main card opens when No. 4 ranked women’s strawweight contender Claudia Gadelha chases a third consecutive win when she takes on rising star and No. 8 Yan Xiaonan.
“I feel like a lot of things happened in the last years of my career,” began the Brazilian veteran. “I lost some fights that I shouldn’t have lost, I went through a lot of challenges switching camps and moving to America, and I feel like I haven’t performed the way I wanted to and that’s probably why they don’t mention me the way they should.
“But I’m working on getting back to the Claudia that was beating everybody and I feel like I’m there,” she added. “I have the right people around me now, I have the right mentality about the sport, and I’m so experienced — 22 fights and I’ve fought everybody — so I’m good to go. I’m going to perform the way I really want to now.”
Main Card (7 am UAE Sunday, November 8)
Thiago Santos vs. Glover Teixeira
Andrei Arlovski vs. Tanner Boser
Ian Heinisch vs. Brendan Allen
Raoni Barcelos vs. Khalid Taha
Claudia Gadelha vs. Yan Xiaonan
Preliminary card (4 am UAE Sunday, November 8)
Trevin Giles vs. Bevon Lewis
Giga Chikadze vs. Jamey Simmons
Marcos Rogerio de Lima vs. Alexander Romanov
Darren Elkins vs. Luiz Eduardo Garagorri
Max Griffin vs. Ramiz Brahimaj
Gustavo Lopez vs. Anthony Birchak