With Jon Jones focusing on Chuck Liddell, Phil Davis, Alexander Gustafsson, himself, and everybody but his opponent Glover Teixeira, it seems like now would be a good time to revisit just how Teixeira got to where he is, co-headlining a main event at UFC 172 and what Teixeira can expect from the champ.
- Teixeira started his MMA career in 2002 with a loss, believe it or not, in the WEC.
- In fact, Teixeira fought 4 times under the WEC banner.
- Since his MMA debut, Teixeira has only lost one other fight in the 24 matches under his belt.
- In the 2+ years Teixeira built up his undefeated record in Brazil, only 1 of his fights went to decision.
- In his 5 fights with the UFC, only 1 win has been by decision.
- Teixeira has more wins on his record than Jon Jones has total fights.
- Teixeira has never fought past the 3rd round.
BETWEEN THE NUMBERS
Teixeira is a quiet guy. He doesn’t smack talk. He doesn’t try to sell himself. He doesn’t belittle his opponents. He’s a marketing firm’s worst nightmare. Despite his affiliations with former champ Chuck Liddell, Teixeira’s climb to the contender’s position, while a quiet one, has been earned of his own merits, most of the time by decimating his opponents.
Much like Jones, Teixeira is a finisher with 12 wins via KO/TKO and 7 coming by way of submission. The quality of competition, however, is where both Jones and Teixeira diverge. Jones has notable wins against Lyoto Machida, Shogun Rua, Rampage Jackson, and Rashad Evans. For Teixeira, notable wins over Rampage Jackson, Ricco Rodriguez, and Rameau Thierry Sokoudjou strengthen his resume. The two share similar wins against Ryan Bader and Rampage Jackson with Teixeira getting the slighter edge on the quickest time to finish their shared competition.
From 2007 through 2010, the UFC Light-Heavyweight Championship title became a hot potato among Forrest Griffin, Rashad Evans, Lyoto Machida, and Shogun Rua, with few of the title holders able to hold on to the belt for more than one defense. Meanwhile, Teixeira was building his reputation in Brazil as a finisher. Often, viewers to UFC events would hear Joe Rogan opine about Glover Teixeira and the visa issues that prevented him from competing in the UFC and adding depth to its light heavyweight division.
When Teixeira was finally able to debut in the UFC, he was quick to impress, submitting Kyle Kingsbury less than 2 minutes into the first round. Since then Teixeira has shown has shown he is an intelligent and consistent fighter, for the most part.
Take his ridiculous fight against Fabio Maldonado in Brazil. Maldonado lured Teixeira into a brawl after Teixeira had dominated him on the feet early. It was enough to get Teixeira’s attention, but the fact that Maldonado put him in a bad spot in the first place raises a red flag. Maldonado has one speed: zombie. He moves forward. Much like a zombie apocalypse, it’s easy enough to plan for. To see Teixeira get lured into Maldonado’s kind of game is troubling even though Teixeira was able to get out of it ultimately. It doesn’t fall into pattern though, until you look at his fight against Ryan Bader.
In the Bader fight, Teixeira was dominating on the ground until, as he did in the Maldonado fight, Teixeira got suckered, this time, into chasing his opponent. Bader lit him up, briefly, before being floored by a Teixeira bomb. The question remains though: does being baited twice prove a pattern?
In his fight with Rampage Jackson, Teixeira pressed the action and stood his ground. When Rampage attempted to get close, Teixeira took him down at will. With Rampage’s reputation as a hard hitter, Teixeira took no chances allowing him to find a range. It showed his intelligence and dominance. Using both in a fight is a hard rope to walk, and in his fight against Rampage, Teixeira made it look effortless. His controlling performance against Rampage aside, Teixeira has shown two things that happen when he does get into trouble on his feet:
- It’s temporary.
- He KOs/TKOs the guy who put him in trouble.
Maldonado was so crushed by Teixeira’s power, the doctor didn’t allow Maldonado to continue his fight against Teixeira. Ryan Bader pushed Teixeira against the fence and unleashed a barrage until Teixeira saw enough of an opening to touch Bader just once, forcing him to turtle up on the canvas. That’s the power Teixeira wields. It’s atomic.
Of course, none of the people on Teixeira’s ledger have the physical gifts of Jon Jones. For Teixeira to get inside and touch Jones’s chin, he has to pass the miles of highway that is the Jones reach. And that’s a long ride to reach the destination. He has to avoid the “oblique” kicks that Jones throws to keep his opponents out of range. He also has to be ready for the creative way Jones implements attacks. They come from odd angles and at odd times.
In short, the things that Glover gets criticized for in his performances will likely be a non-factor in the championship fight with Jon Jones. Glover won’t get suckered into a brawl with Jones because that’s not what Jones does. Knowing that, does it give Teixeira carte blanche to make the fight ugly? Does Teixeira attempt to bait Jones into thinking that Teixeira can be baited into a brawl, allowing Jones to get close enough to unload? Probably not. Jones scares the bejesus out of most people not named Alexander Gustafsson, and Jones’s opponents respect his abilities too much to allow him to get that close; however, that’s exactly the kind of blueprint that Teixeira’s mentor followed so well. Chuck Liddell was a counter striker that used his wrestling to keep the fight standing, made his opponents wade into his range, and then uncorked on them with power counter shots. Liddell’s success with that blueprint is one that might justify Teixeira going retro in his fight on Saturday and taking a page out of the past in order to beat Jones. Jones, in his countless distractions leading up to the fight, has even been vocal about Chuck Liddell this week, going so far as to challenge the retired former lightweight champion, further endearing himself to MMA fans everywhere. Does Jones see something about Teixeira that gives him pause so much so that he’s sniping at Teixeira’s camp? Maybe Liddell, John Hackleman, and Glover Teixeira know something the Vegas oddsmakers don’t.
If Gustaffson represented Jones’s test against a physical threat, Machida represented Jones’s test against a technical threat, Belfort and Sonnen represented Jones’s test from the outside threat of smaller opponents, surely Teixeira represents Jones’s biggest test against the threat of raw power. The more Jones keeps talking about Chuck Liddell, Phil Davis, Alexander Gustafsson, and social media snafus, the more you have to wonder if he’s had adequate time to cram for the kind of assessment that is Glover Teixeira. If not, here’s hoping he at least has planned an excuse.