UFC No. 1 light-heavyweight contender Glover Teixeira looks like the prototypical fighter. With a chiseled face and a physique that showcases the grueling day-to-day grind that come with being a high-level mixed martial artist, Teixeira’s appearance exemplifies his dedication to his craft.
The road to the top didn’t come easy for Teixeira, though. In fact, it nearly didn’t come at all.
On the brink of a deal with the UFC after developing his mixed martial arts skills under the tutelage of The Pit’s John Hackleman and UFC Hall of Famer Chuck “The Iceman” Liddell, visa issues forced Teixeira back to his home country of Brazil. There, he fought in regional promotions, all while watching his countrymen became stars in the United States.
In the fight game, time is paramount. Fighters have only so many years to stake a claim. If they’re lucky, they can earn enough money to ensure long-term financial security. So imagine the frustration for Glover during the four years he spent fighting to stay relevant, knowing that he wasn’t underneath the bright lights of the UFC octagon. Not because he wasn’t good enough, but because he fell on the wrong side of an immigration formality.
Most people would be bitter, blaming the loss of their prime years on bureaucracy. And who could blame them? In a sport where youth is the most valuable resource, four years could mean the difference between contending for a title and becoming a UFC footnote.
Glover Teixeira is not most people.
After resolving his visa issues,Teixeira won his UFC debut, a throttling of fellow light-heavyweight Kyle Kingsbury. He then won his next four fights, three by either TKO or submission. After his last fight, a first-round finish of Ryan Bader, Teixeira looked to have locked up his title shot against UFC light-heavyweight king Jon Jones. During the post-fight press conference, Dana White confirmed through a UFC rep that Teixeira was the No. 1 contender, and a tentative fight date was set for Super Bowl weekend in Newark, N.J.
News broke this week, though, that the fight was bumped from the UFC 169 card. White also said that if Alexander Gustafsson wins his next fight, he’ll get the much-anticipated rematch with Jones. (Jones and the lanky Swedish striker recently competed in a back-and-forth brawl that many are already giving the nod for ‘Fight of the Year.’)
And just like that, Teixeira went from bride to bridesmaid. You’d think that someone who had suffered the setbacks that have plagued Teixeira’s career would have gone mad when the Jones-Gustafsson rematch speculation surfaced, but that wasn’t the case. Teixeira joined SiriusXM’s TapouT Radio Thursday, and when asked about the prospect of losing his title shot to Gustafsson, Teixeira was cool and collected.
I’m not worried about it. They offered me the title shot and I never asked for it. You’ve never seen me jump in the cage or ask after an interview for a title shot. I just kept fighting and thinking the day they give me a title shot, I’ll be ready.
Regardless of whomever Teixeira fights next, a victory will be paramount in maintaining his world championship aspirations. It may not be as ideal a situation as before, but as Teixeira has learned during the course of his mixed martial arts career, everything doesn’t always play into a fighter’s favor. Sometimes, fighters just need to roll with the punches, and keep taking things as they come. One fight at a time