UFC Fight Night Jacksonville: Preview and predictions

The nations has been clamoring for sports action since the dreaded coronavirus put the kibosh on basketball, hockey, UFC, college sports, baseball, etc., etc., etc. And just when we were all about to begin watching the KBO and listening to Madden simulations on the radio, Dana White stepped in and threw a kimura on COVID-19 and made the illness-provoked sports restrictions tap out. First, White put together a card as good as any in recent memory on May 6 with UFC 249. Now, on Wednesday evening, the world’s top combat sports promotion will bring us its second of three cards within a week’s span with UFC Fight Night Jacksonville our of the empty VyStar Veteran’s Memorial Arena. The fight is available to ESPN+ subscribers and prelims start at 6:00 P.M. with the main card beginning at 9:00 P.M. Let’s take a look at the main card.

Anthony Smith (31-14) vs. Glover Teixeira (30-7), Light Heavyweight

Coming off of a harrowing home-invasion incident in which he had to fight off an accomplished high school wrestler for five minutes, Anthony Smith faces another tough opponent in the main event on Wednesday night in Glover Teixeira. Smith is coming into the fight off of an impressive five-fight streak that has seen him knock out Rashaad Evans and Shogun Rua in the first round, take Jon Jones the distance before losing a decision and submit Alexander Gustafsson. Along the way, he has earned “Fight of the Night” or “Performance of the Night” honors in four of his last six bouts. Not one to be outdone, the 40 year old UFC veteran Teixeira has won three fights in a row and earned “Fight of the Night” once and “Performance of the Night” once in his last six fights.

Teixeira is a skilled Brazilian Ju Jitsu artist and second degree black belt that will have no problem submitting other fighters if they get put into compromising positions. Smith will keep the fight at arms lenghth and use his superior striking to score against Teixeira while looking for an opportunity for a knockout. While Teixeira’s ground game is more than formidable, Smith’s BJJ game is very underrated. Ultimately, Smith will need to stay off of his back or recover quickly. If he does those things, he either knocks Teixeira out or wins a unanimous decision.

My prediction: Anthony Smith has been on a tear lately and has greatly improved his cardio. Teixeira is on the wrong side of 40 and hasn’t exactly been impressive lately. Smith wears the old man down and knocks him out in the third round. Anthony Smith, KO/TKO

Ovince Saint Preux (24-13) vs. Ben Rothwell (37-12), Heavyweight

St. Preux has struggled a bit, as of late, going 2-3 in his last five fights. He has, however, earned “Performance of the Night” honors during his two victories during that time. The last time we saw Rothwell in action on December 7, he earned a controversial victory over Stephan Struve, hitting Struve with two low blows before finishing him in round two. The victory was Rothwell’s only in his last four fights, including two straight loses after returning from a two year drug ban in March of 2019.

St. Preux will be fighting his first heavyweight fight on Wednesday night, which is always a question mark for fighters. Rothwell seems to have lost a bit of speed recently, but can make up for it with his 50 plus pound weight advantage. Rothwell will look to take the fight to St. Preux and close the distance, battering the smaller man’s face. St. Preux will use his speed to stick and move, using his snap kick to batter the recently hit able Rothwell.

My prediction: St. Preux uses his considerable speed advantage to stay out of a brawl with the lumbering Rothwell and wins by decision. St. Preux, decision.

Drew Dober (22-9) vs. Alexander Hernandez (11-2), Lightweight

Drew Dober has looked quite good lately, winning five of his last six fights, with his only loss coming via triangle arm bar. Three of those victories have come via KO/TKO in the first round. Hernandez has lost only one fight in his last ten dating back to September of 2013. His lone loss came against Cowboy Cerrone in January of 2019. Hernandez was considered a star on the rise before that fight and will look to pick himself back up after that second round TKO.

Hernandez will need to get back to the aggressiveness that saw him reel off eight straight wins before January of 2019. Dober is an explosive puncher that will look to time Hernandez’s shots and counter with hard lefts. That being said, Dober has the advantage if the fight goes to the ground.

My prediction: Dober times out Hernandez’s punches, who hasn’t been the same since the Cerrone fight, and catches him for a KO. Dober, KO/TKO

Ray Borg (13-4) vs. Ricky Simon (15-3) , Bantamweight

Ray Borg enters this fight coming off of two straight unanimous decisions. He faces Ricky Simon, who has lost two straight after an impressive 14-1 start to his MMA career.

Borg will look to what he has done since returning to the octagon in 2019, a controlled wrestling game that has done little in the way of looking for submissions. Simon will come out like a maniac, sometimes selling out to get at his opponent. Simon is an aggressive scrambler that should be able to stay away from Borg’s take down attempts.

My prediction: If this fight took place in 2017, it could have been a main event. Despite having the better record recently, Borg is not what he was before injuries and personal life problems. I look for this fight to be somewhat exciting, but go the distance for a Simon victory. Simon, decision.

Karl Roberson (9-2-0) vs. Marvin Vettori (13-4-1) , Middleweight

This fight has been called off due to Roberson’s non-COVID related illness.

Leroy Travers

Follow my coverage of Lacrosse (College and MLL) as well as Georgetown Hoyas Basketball, the Washington Redskins, and most other sports here on the MSB. Living in neighboring Sussex County, Delaware, I have been a huge Maryland Sports fan for almost 40 years. Follow me on Twitter @el_travs, and on Instagram @Letrav.

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