Pre-fight Analysis

The Inspirational Rise Of Glover Teixeira

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Introduction

One of the most iconic stories of MMA in recent years is undoubtedly the resurgence of Glover Teixeira and his eventual victory to win the light heavyweight championship and become the oldest first-time champion in the history of the organization. With his upcoming title defense against Jiri Prochazka set for June 11 atUFC 275, it is important to understand how monumental and historic his career has been from being labeled as a gatekeeper in his late 30s to undisputed champion at the age of 42.

Initial Run

Making his debut in 2002, Glover would lose two fights very early on in his career before establishing an impressive 20-fight win streak and going almost 10 years undefeated. This would eventually lead him to a UFC title shot against Jon Jones, where ultimately, he would come up short in his bid to become champion in a decision loss.

This was followed by another decision loss to Phil Davis before getting back into the win column with a win over Ovince St. Preux. The next few years would see Glover’s career follow a pattern. He would defeat many top-10 fighters in the division, but would ultimately come up short when faced with the cream of the crop. Defeats to Alexander Gustafsson that consisted of a dominant beatdown and ultimately a knockout, Anthony Johnson by knockout in 13 seconds and dropping a decision to Corey Anderson meant that Teixeira was essentially considered to be a high-level gatekeeper. With time ticking, and the Brazilian already in his late 30s, it looked like his performance was only going to decline in the future. 

The Streak

Following the defeat to Anderson, Glover took a step back from fighting the already established best in the division. He would start picking off those fighters who drifted around the top 10-15 and would gain impressive submission finishes over Karl Roberson as well as the ever-aggressive Ion Cutelaba before picking up a slim split decision victory over the tough Russian Nikita Krylov.

This three-fight win streak was the perfect momentum that Teixeira, now almost 40, needed in order to propel himself back into fighting the elite of the division.

He was scheduled to fight Anthony “Lionheart” Smith. Smith had recently fought for the title and in his last performance, he had dominated Gustafsson, a man who had viciously knocked out Teixeira three years earlier. If Glover could make a statement against Smith, then he could surely throw his name into the hat for title shots. A statement was going to be needed, though. 

And that is exactly what Glover made. In a five-round beatdown, Teixeira dominated Anthony Smith like no one before him had done and laid out severe punishment to “Lionheart,” who, living up to his name, took it all in his stride. Infamously, Smith’s teeth fell out in between rounds and many pundits and fans alike heavily criticized his corner for not pulling their man out of the fight before the eventual ground and pound finish in the fifth round.

The win was exactly what Glover needed, yet while perhaps a younger, fresher fighter would have been given a title shot immediately following, Teixeira still had one more hurdle to jump: Thiago Santos. Santos’s previous fight was a split decision loss to Jon Jones that many had felt he won, and in his fight before that had knocked out the man who eventually became the champion in Jan Blachowicz. Santos was the heavy favorite, and the majority of fans and pundits were already speculating on a Santos vs Blachowicz rematch. This is not what Glover had planned, however. after sustaining heavy damage on the feet from Santos including a knockdown, Teixeira managed to perform several big takedowns and brought the fight to the mat where he would lock in a submission to win the fight in the third round. 

Champion

Finally, after a five-fight win streak where Glover had finished two of the biggest names that the division had to offer, he had established himself as the clear No. 1 contender in the division. It was impossible to overlook him for a title shot. He did have to wait and bide his time until he received one.

Blachowicz first had to go up against middleweight champion Israel Adesanya in a super fight before once again facing the No. 1 contender in his division. Teixeira was only getting older and by the time of their eventual scrap in late 2021, as the crafty veteran had just turned 42 a couple of days prior.

It didn’t matter though. Glover proved that age really was just a number with a second-round submission win over Blachowicz to become the second oldest champion in the history of the organization and the oldest man to become champion for the first time.

In a career where he suffered numerous losses and setbacks, Glover Teixeira managed to break away from the label of “gatekeeper” and “past it” and managed to climb to the top of a sport that is among the hardest in the world, all the while being closer to 50 than he was to 30. That is truly impressive.

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