A generation of MMA fans likely can’t remember the last time, also the first time, that Glover Teixeira fought for the UFC light heavyweight championship because they didn’t see it.
It took place against a young Jon Jones on April 26, 2014 at UFC 172. Teixeira was on an incredible 20-fight winning streak, including his first five in the UFC, when he stepped into the octagon that night in Baltimore. What happened over the course of 25 minutes was a display of dominance from Jones, who won a clean-sweep unanimous decision against Teixeira.
For the next four years, Teixeira would get close to another title shot but never broke through. After a follow-up loss to Phil Davis, Teixeira went on a three-fight winning streak before he was knocked out in 13 seconds by Anthony Johnson at UFC 202. After that, Teixeira would go on to alternate wins and losses, beating Jared Cannonier and Misha Cirkunov but losing to top contenders Alexander Gustafsson and Corey Anderson.
Another crack at UFC gold seemed like a long shot heading into 2019, but in January of that year, Teixeira kicked off a five-fight winning streak that has led him to the UFC 267 main event where he’ll challenge Jan Blachowicz for the 205-pound title more than seven years after his first shot.
The question is: How did he do it?
“Passion. Passion for this sport,” Teixeira said Wednesday at UFC 267 media day. “Lately, more discipline about it, more focus on what I have to do to become a champion. Of course, it didn’t work before, so I was doing something wrong. When I fought Gustafsson, when I fought Anthony Johnson, I was knocking at the door. I couldn’t get there. I couldn’t get that title shot again. I said, ‘Man, I’m losing time over here. What do I have to do?’ (I was) looking for knowledge – (UFC) PI, my coaches, my discipline, and putting it on myself. Like, how much do I want this?”
Jon Jones and Glover Teixeira exchange punches during the UFC light heavy weight championship fight at Baltimore Arena on April 26, 2014.
If Teixeira, who turns 42 on Thursday, had to credit one thing most for this resurgence during the twilight of his career …
“Hundred percent, discipline,” Teixeira said. “Back then, I was just a wild fighter, man, just going and fight. (I would) train like a maniac, train like a dog always.”
Whatever Teixeira has done to change, it’s working as he’s stopped four fighters during his winning streak. In 2020, Teixeira secured his title shot by annihilating Anthony Smith before winning by fifth-round TKO and following up with a third-round submission of Thiago Santos last November.
Remarkably, Teixeira (32-7 MMA, 15-5 UFC) is the only fighter in history to hold a five-fight UFC winning streak at age 40 or older. If he defeats Blachowicz (28-8 MMA, 11-5 UFC) on Saturday, Teixiera would become the oldest first-time champion in UFC history.
He’s proud to be viewed as an inspiration this late in his career.
“Fans like this stuff, and I’m a fan of this sport,” Teixeira said. “I love when people overcome situations, like break the rules, doing something that not many people have done. If I win this title right now, who did it before? Only one guy in the UFC, Randy Couture (was 45 when he won the heavyweight title at UFC 68). It’s a hard thing to do, and I’m glad that I’m here, and I’m gonna get it Saturday night.”