Glover Teixeira thought about hanging up his four-ounce gloves a couple of times, but could never quite take that step.
“It came to my mind after a couple losses,” the 43-year-old said. “When I lost to Corey Anderson and when I lost to (Alexander) Gustafsson that time, it came to my mind the thought that ‘If I keep fighting like this, I’m gonna retire.’”
The veteran Brazilian was dealing with a lingering shoulder injury, and the loss to Anderson was his third in five fights, bringing his record to 5-5 over a 10-fight stretch that began with his light heavyweight championship bout against Jon Jones at UFC 172 in Baltimore.
He was in his late 30s, had been competing professionally for 15 years, and had spent the last five or six years entrenched in the upper tier of the UFC light heavyweight division. He’d come up short in his quest for gold, but had a great career, registering 27 victories and earning a reputation as both a fighter’s fighter and an all-action standout fans always looked forward to seeing compete.
“But I changed a little my lifestyle, the way to live, and I just said, ‘I’m not gonna retire now. I’m not gonna let the fight retire me — I’m gonna retire when I want to retire,’ and so I just kept pushing.”
Glover Teixeira | Crowning Moment
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Glover Teixeira | Crowning Moment
He won his next six fights, culminating with a UFC light heavyweight title win over Jan Blachowicz at UFC 267, achieving the feat at age 42, making him the oldest first-time champion in the promotion’s history.
This weekend in Rio de Janeiro, Teixeira looks to become a two-time champion as he faces off with Jamahal Hill in a battle for the vacant light heavyweight strap.
Teixeira lost the title to Jiri Prochazka last summer in Singapore, the two men engaging in one of the most entertaining, competitive fights of 2022.
“My strategy was to go over there, take him down, and beat him on the ground,” Teixeira said when asked about his approach against Prochazka. “Later, if he starts worrying about the ground, I knock him out, and both came close. I came close to finishing him. I came close to knocking him out, but he’s tough as nails.
“I went there to try to finish him in the fifth, but I got finished,” added Teixeira, who was ahead on all three scorecards heading into the final round but got caught in a rear-naked choke in the waning seconds of the fifth and tapped. “But we got the best fight of the year.
“Imagine how many fights in 2022 between all those promotions, and we got the best fight of the year. That’s an accomplishment.”
The pair were slated to run it back at UFC 282, but a few weeks before the event, Prochazka suffered a serious shoulder injury and was forced to withdraw from the contest.
Knowing surgery and a long recovery period was ahead of him, the Czech champion opted to vacate the title, wanting the division to continue moving forward in his stead, leaving Teixeira without a dance partner and the UFC hustling to figure things out.
Former champion Jan Blachowicz, whom Teixeira had beaten for the title the previous October in Abu Dhabi, was scheduled to face surging Russian contender Magomed Ankalaev in the co-main event, and the two instantly became the obvious choices to potentially replace Prochazka.
Teixeira asked to face Blachowicz, the UFC offered Ankalaev, and the Brazilian said he needed time to prepare for such a difficult challenge.
“They called me when Jiri got hurt; I wanted to take the fight with Jan,” began Teixeira. “It was short notice, Ankalaev is a southpaw, so I said, ‘I need at least six weeks to train for this guy.’
“I’m not gonna fight somebody just because I trained already, I’m already here, I’m just gonna go in to make the money. I’m gonna fight somebody confident that I can beat him. I told them, ‘Give me Ankalaev for January. Give me anyone for January, and I’ll prepare myself to beat these guys. I’ll come with confidence that I can beat him.’
“If I lose or win, I don’t care about that, but I want to be mentally and physically prepared for somebody.”
Instead of stepping into the Octagon, Teixeira watched from the front row as Blachowicz and Ankalaev battled each other for the vacant title.
Frustrated that he was bumped from the championship pairing, but confident that he would face the winner, Teixeira — like everyone else — was unsure what would happen when the bout was scored a draw and the light heavyweight title remained unclaimed.
He got his answer soon after the fight ended.
FREE FIGHT: Glover Teixeira vs Anthony Smith
“Right away, (UFC Chief Business Officer) Hunter (Campbell) and (UFC Matchmaker) Mick (Maynard) called me and said, ‘Do you want to fight Jamahal Hill in Brazil for the title?’
“I didn’t hesitate to answer that question,” Teixeira recalled with a smile. “I wanted to fight in Brazil. I wanted to fight for the title. I had six weeks when they called me, so I said, ‘I got six weeks; let’s go! Call my manager and set up everything. Let’s get it!’”
Professionally, Teixeira is a certified bad ass; a dangerous, resilient, intense man with 33 victories and 28 finishes in 41 career fights.
Outside of the Octagon, however, he’s quick to laugh, happy working the grill, and it’s that easy-going nature that allowed him to roll with the punches when things didn’t break his way heading into UFC 282.
“I said, ‘I’m gonna fight for the title, no matter what. If I don’t fight now, I’ll fight later’ and look what happened,” explained Teixeira. “I didn’t fight then, and now I have enough time to prepare for Jamahal Hill. There’s no worries, no rush — just stay calm and things will happen.
“The opportunity to fight for the title in Brazil is here and I’m embracing it. I am happy. I’m just gonna go over there and win the belt in my home country.”
In order to close out the night with the light heavyweight title once again wrapped around his waist, Teixeira will have to halt the ascent of Hill, a graduate of Dana White’s Contender Series who has gone 5-1 with one no contest through his first seven UFC appearances, and carries a three-fight winning streak into Saturday’s championship main event.
What makes Jamahal Hill a dangerous opponent?” Teixeira said, repeating the question that had just been asked to him. “Just look at his fights. He fought some of the toughest guys in the world and finished almost all of them, except one guy in the UFC.
“Last fight with Thiago Santos was a knockout. That punch with Johnny Walker? The guy is dangerous. You can’t sleep on him.”
While comparatively short on experience, the 31-year-old Hill rebounded from the first and only loss of his career in the summer of 2021 by collecting a trio of stoppage wins to establish himself as one of the top emerging contenders in the 205-pound weight class.
Like Teixeira, he was in the right place at the right time when Blachowicz and Ankalaev battled to a draw in December, accepting the call to face the former champion in his home country this weekend, and eager to test himself against the Brazilian veteran inside the Octagon.
“I think Jamahal’s biggest skills are his standup,” added Teixeira. “His standup skills are the most dangerous. He has a loose style, moves around, playing possum sometimes and then snap the punches hard — it’s Jamahal Hill style.”
Teixeira has his own signature style, as well, one that is well-established, and he made it clear that he has no intention of straying from the approach, confident it will carry him to victory once again, one way or another.
“My style, everybody knows: I’m going for a fight, going for the finish,” he said. “I can knock you out. I can finish on the ground. Definitely if the opportunity comes to take him to the ground — he knows that — I’m gonna take him to the ground and ground-and-pound.
“My prediction is to go over there and put on a show — put on a show and have my dream realized, have my hand raised; I don’t really care how. My prediction is to win, to get the belt back.
“Last time, I was this close,” continued Teixeira, holding his thumb and index finger a fraction of an inch apart. “I lost, it was a learning experience, and now I’m going to go get it back.”
And if he does, it will be a moment unlike any other.
“Every fight I say is the most important fight. Every win I say is the most beautiful win, and when I win this belt, it’s going to be an incredible moment,” he added. “When I won the belt in Abu Dhabi, it was amazing but to win the belt in Rio de Janeiro…”
“I close my eyes sometimes and visualize it, and it’s different. It’s different. I can’t wait.”
UFC 283: Teixeira vs Hill took place live from Jeunesse Arena in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil on January 21, 2023. See the Final Results, Official Scorecards and Who Won Bonuses - and relive the action on UFC Fight Pass!