If you were someone who grew up in the 80s or 90s, the look on the face of Glover Teixeira after his UFC 160 win over James Te Huna in May was one you could easily understand. Sure, it was great for the Brazilian to get his fourth consecutive UFC victory without a loss, and to finish it to earn Submission of the Night honors, but when boxing legend Mike Tyson entered the Octagon to congratulate Teixeira, that lifted the night into a whole new stratosphere of memorable.
“It was great,” said Teixeira. “Tyson went into the ring and I couldn’t believe it. I never thought in my life that he was gonna be there one day and it happened. I’m so glad that it happened because it was a dream come true.”
From Dreams to Destiny
One of many thus far for a fighter who many thought for years was destined to never fight in the UFC. But once he got visa issues straightened out and was brought into the organization in 2012, it’s been one big moment after the other, whether it was simply fighting in the UFC, returning home to fight in Brazil as a member of the roster, beating Quinton “Rampage” Jackson in a network-televised FOX bout, or meeting “Iron Mike.”
Next item to scratch off the bucket list? Fighting in a UFC main event in Brazil, which he will do tonight against Ryan Bader.
“Fighting in Brazil is always good,” he said. “You’re in your hometown, you see your home country, and since I’m fighting in my home state my family and a lot of friends that I’ve known for a long time are gonna be there, so I’m very excited. I’ve been working to get in the UFC for a long time and fighting in a main event of the UFC is always great anywhere, but it makes it really special to fight in my home state. It’s even better.”
A favorite of hardcore fans for years, as he turned back the challenges of big names like Ricco Rodriguez, Marvin Eastman, Sokoudjou, and Marcio Cruz, the Minas Gerais native didn’t waste any time introducing himself to UFC fans, winning four times in his first 12 months to extend his winning streak of more than seven years to 19. To say it’s been a whirlwind would be downplaying things, because as he approaches tonight’s bout, a win could put him next in line to face the winner of this month’s light heavyweight title fight between champion Jon Jones and challenger Alexander Gustafsson. It’s a fight Teixeira believes will see Jones extend his reign at the top.
“I believe Jones is probably gonna take it,” said Teixeira. “The guy’s good, and I think it would be good to fight him. He’s been the champion for so long.”
Confidence and Consistency
Jones also owns a second round submission win over Bader in 2011, making it a possible measuring stick and marketing point should Teixeira beat the former Ultimate Fighter winner more impressively or quicker. Two years is a long time though, and Teixeira is expecting a fight out of the Arizonan.
“He’s a tough guy and a very strong opponent,” said Teixeira. “He’s very strong, a very good wrestler, and he’s got power in the hands, so he’s a dangerous fighter. But I’m confident I can beat him anywhere and I’m going over there prepared for five rounds and to bring it to this guy. I think it’s gonna be a good fight.”
Teixeira’s confidence doesn’t just stem from his winning streak, Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu black belt and heavy hands though; he’s also a two-time Brazilian national champion in wrestling, something he chooses to downplay heading into the bout.
“As a wrestler I’m confident, but I’m also confident in my MMA skills, and I think in MMA I can wrestle anybody,” he said. “But I’m not going to even compare myself to Ryan Bader in wrestling with the name and the background he has. But we’re not going to be in a wrestling match.”
No they’re not, so Teixeira will go wherever he needs to go to pick up the win, whether it’s standing, on the mat, or over the five round distance. And at 33, Teixeira knows that it’s not flash that gets you to the top, but a well-rounded attack that can give any opponent nightmares. That means a lot of hours in the gym with the American Top Team squad in Coconut Creek, Florida and the realization that to earn a world championship, sacrifices have to be made, including leaving his family in Connecticut behind when it’s time to go to work.
“It’s part of the game and everybody has to do that,” he said. “You’ve got to sacrifice to get the victory, but in the end, it’s all good things. When you train and have no injuries, you feel really good every day, and when you’ve got a big fight coming up, all you think about is the fight, and I think it’s better. I’ve never done a camp in my house, with my family and with my wife, so I don’t even know how that would be. Maybe in the future I’ll try one, but so far it’s been great, so I’m not gonna change it now.”
Consistency may be Teixeira’s greatest attribute, and that’s what makes him tough to beat. In fact, the only thing that may slow him down on the road to the belt is being distracted by what’s ahead of him should he beat Bader. But he’s trying not to let that be an issue.
“It’s a tough fight coming up, but it (winning the title) is a dream, so you always look ahead,” he said. “It’s my dream to become a champion, it’s my dream to be fighting for a championship belt, so in a way I do (look ahead), but I’m focused and I’m not looking past this fight in any way. I’m thinking at the end of the night, I’m gonna be the winner, and yeah, it would be awesome if I can fight for the title after that.”
Glover Teixeira: From No Man's Land to UFC Headliner
"I’m thinking at the end of the night, I’m gonna be the winner, and yeah, it would be awesome if I can fight for the title after that." - Glover Teixeira