Glover Teixeira is ready to explode into mainstream super stardom.
The respected light heavyweight contender, who battles Quinton “Rampage” Jackson in the co-main event of UFC on FOX 6 on Jan. 26 at United Center in Chicago, Ill., knows what kind of an opportunity fighting on FOX against a huge name like “Rampage” brings, and he knows a win is crucial for his career.
Teixeira is considered by many to be one of the top 10 light heavyweights in the world, but the problem is he doesn’t have that big name on his resume just yet. Although the UFC had tried to book him against Mauricio “Shogun” Rua last summer, Rua turned the fight down because he said Teixeira wasn’t a big enough name. Jackson, however, accepted the bout, and the two were set to compete at UFC 153 until Jackson pulled out with an injury. Instead, Teixeira destroyed injury replacement Fabio Maldonado, and the UFC elected to re-book the Teixeira/Jackson match at UFC on FOX 6.
A win over Jackson, a former UFC light heavyweight champion, would be huge for Teixeira’s career and move him one step closer to a shot at current 205-pound kingpin Jon Jones. But the soft-spoken 33-year-old Brazilian said he’s using this fight against Jackson to build up his own name value, not to call out Jones.
“I don’t think about (a title shot against Jones) right now, I just think about this fight with Rampage coming up, a really tough fight,” Teixeira told MMASucka.com on a media conference call promoting the event on Tuesday. “I’ve been training really hard to put on a great fight for the fans so people get to know me. I haven’t been thinking about anything else except my next fight on January 26.”
Teixeira has racked up a 19-2 MMA record and is currently riding a 17-fight win streak, but the problem is the majority of those wins came over fighters with lesser names. In fact, the most recognizable wins on Teixeira’s resume are Sokoudjou, Ricco Rodriguez, Marvin Eastman, and Kyle Kingsbury. So yes, while he does have obvious talent, he needs to prove it against a top-flight 205er, and that’s exactly what Jackson is.
In order to prepare for Jackson, Teixeira has been working with former UFC light heavyweight champion Chuck Liddell, who fought Jackson twice during his own MMA career. Sure, Liddell lost both the fights by knockout, but he still knows how “Rampage” likes to fight and Teixeira admits having Liddell in his stable has been an added bonus.
“Chuck always helped me since the beginning,” Teixeira said. “I always helped him for his fights and he’s come down and helped me out with wrestling, striking, timing… Chuck is as a great coach, he was a great fighter, but he’s a great coach now. He’s got a lot to show me in every (aspect of MMA).”
One thing that Teixeira needs to work on is his striking defence. In the fight against Maldonado, Teixeira absolutely dominated 99 percent of the bout but there was one instance at the end of the first round where a weary Maldonado hit Teixeira with a punch and appeared to wobble him.
Although UFC colour commentator Joe Rogan is known for his hyperbole during events and some thought Teixeira wasn’t as hurt as the commentary team made him out to be, Teixeira admitted that he let him guard down for a second and the punch that Maldonado did in fact rock him.
“You know, of course, you get the guy hurt and he comes back,” Teixeira said of Maldonado. “That guy’s super tough and I give all the credit for him to keep fighting all the way until the end. Yeah, he surprised me a little but I kept my composure and finished the fight.”
If that sort of thing happens against Jackson, expect a short night for Teixeira. But if Teixeira performs up to his potential, he has the opportunity to finish Jackson himself and really cement himself as one of the top light heavyweights in the UFC.
“Rampage” vs. Teixeira is one of the most highly-anticipated fights of the first quarter 2013 and although the term does get thrown around a lot, expect nothing less than an all-out war when these two heavy hitters with so much to prove throw down 11 days from now.
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