Many fighters arrive in the UFC with a reputation that precedes them. Then there’s Glover Teixeira.
Owner of a 17-2 record that included a 15-fight winning streak and knockouts of Ricco Rodriguez, Marvin Eastman, Marcio Cruz and Rameau Thierry Sokoudjou before he stepped foot in the Octagon for the first time in 2012, the Brazilian didn’t just have a reputation. He was an urban legend, the Bigfoot UFC fans had heard about but never saw with their own eyes.
And before Teixeira made that walk and defeated Kyle Kingsbury, kicking off a UFC career that has put him at the top of the light heavyweight division and in a co-main event against Anthony Johnson next Saturday, some thought they never would.
A native of Sobralia, Teixeira made the trip to the United States to begin a new life in Connecticut, not realizing that he was starting a journey of another sort.
“The first time I went to the gym, it was here in the United States in Danbury, and I wanted to be a boxer,” he told me in 2015. “But that changed three months later when my friend showed me a tape of Royce Gracie in UFC. That changed my whole dream about being a fighter. He was like, ‘This is crazy, man,’ and I wanted to do this crazy thing. (Laughs) That’s what I wanted to do.”
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By 2002, the 22-year-old Teixeira was a pro mixed martial artist and he rapidly built a reputation as a fighter to watch. Plus, he had some pretty impressive backup on fight night in the form of John Hackleman and Chuck Liddell. It was after Teixeira’s first pro fight that he met The Pit master, and Hackleman soon began training the Brazilian prospect with an assist from “The Iceman.”
“My first fight was against one of his guys and later on, he called me and told me that if I wanted to train with him, he could make me a better fighter,” Teixeira recalled. “When I went to train with John and his camp at The Pit, I didn’t know anything, and Chuck taught me pretty much everything. I knew jiu-jitsu, and that was my background, but wrestling and striking, Chuck was telling me everything.”
He would soon need Liddell’s advice even more dearly, as visa issues forced him back to Brazil and stalled any chance of a UFC contract. Teixeira, disappointed but not discouraged, continued to fight – and win – as he waited for the situation to be resolved.
“Chuck told me once, ‘You just gotta fight. Don’t worry about messing up the record because if you can’t beat somebody here, it’s because you don’t deserve to be there anyway. So keep fighting,’” he said in 2013. “So I kept fighting. If I wasn’t injured, I’d fight, and I knew sooner or later it was gonna happen.”
One by one, opponents fell at Teixeira’s feet and his legend grew. All the while, he remained determined that he would soon be a UFC fighter.
“I was confident,” he said. “But I didn’t want to wait too long to get into the UFC. If I was 35 or 37 years old, I didn’t want to do that. But I knew that sooner or later this thing was gonna happen. I was gonna keep fighting no matter what and keep my record going up. They were going to have to call me, because after having 30 or 40 winning fights, they’d have to at some point.”
In 2012, with his visa issues resolved, he got that call. Ten UFC fights later, he’s one of the best 205-pounders on the planet, he and his family are settled in Danbury, and he’s even opened his own gym close to home. Call it Glover Teixeira’s American Dream.