One of the world’s top light heavyweights, Glover Teixeira has won 19 fights in a row. | Photo: Dave Mandel/Sherdog.com
FORTALEZA, Brazil -- Many view Glover Teixeira as the most significant threat to the reign of Ultimate Fighting Championship light heavyweight titleholder Jon Jones -- and with good reason.
Teixeira has won 19 consecutive bouts, finishing 17 of them, and posted a perfect 4-0 mark since joining the UFC in 2012. The 33-year-old Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt last fought at UFC 160 in May, when he submitted James Te Huna with a first-round guillotine choke at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas. Teixeira has not tasted defeat since losing a unanimous decision to Ed Herman more than eight years ago.
In this exclusive interview with Sherdog.com, Teixeira discusses his place in the UFC’s light heavyweight division, his friendships with Lyoto Machida and Chuck Liddell, meeting a man he idolized in Mike Tyson and the road he traveled to the Octagon:
Sherdog.com: What did you think of the UFC on Fuel TV 10 show?
Teixeira: I thought they had good fights. I enjoyed the [Rafael] “Feijao” [Cavalcante]-Thiago [Silva] fight. We already knew Erick [Silva] would win, but I honestly thought “Feijao” would knock out Thiago. I cannot speak about [Antonio Rodrigo] “Minotauro” [Nogueira]. I like [Fabricio] Werdum, but I feel sad every time “Minotauro” loses. That guy represents a lot in Brazilian MMA. I was also surprised by the way that Leonardo [Santos], who is much smaller and will eventually fight in a lower weight division, beat [William] “Patolino” [Macario].
Sherdog.com: Now that you are living in the United States, how long do you plan to stay in Brazil?
Teixeira: I really just came to visit family and the return to the U.S., probably Florida. I really want to help Lyoto in his fight camp for Phil Davis at Blackhouse, but there’s a friend of mine at American Top Team who helped me a lot in my last camp, and he fights soon. I have to decide where to do this next camp, with Lyoto at Blackhouse or at ATT.
Sherdog.com: I have heard talk about the UFC making you and Lyoto coaches for the third installment of “The Ultimate Fighter: Brazil.” However, you have said more than once that you would not fight him. Can you talk about your friendship and the possibility of you all facing one another at some point?
Teixeira: I have no problem fighting someone I train with. I train with many of the fighters in my division, and I’m friends with most of them. I love [Antonio] Rogerio [Nogueira] and “Feijao,” and if I had the choice, I would rather not face them. In Lyoto’s case, it goes beyond that. I’ve been in Belem several times to help him train. I always stay at his home with his family, with his wife and children, so we really cannot fight. It’s curious that we beat up each other every day in training, dangerously trying to knock out the other, but my goal is to help him. I cannot see myself getting in the Octagon to knock out Lyoto.
Sherdog.com: Have you talked about what would happen if one of you wins the title?
Teixeira: The belt belongs to Jones now, and Machida will probably have the chance to face him before me. If he wins, I would rather move to the heavyweight division than face him. If I face Jones first and beat him, Lyoto would drop down to middleweight.
Teixeira: Myself (laughs). Of course, I’ll always think that I am, but if Jones gets past [Alexander] Gustafsson, he should get Lyoto. The Swede is good, but his style favors Jones, who will easily take him down and win. Lyoto is a more difficult opponent for Jones.
Sherdog.com: How would you approach a fight against Jones?
Teixeira: As I always say, beat the hell out of him Mike Tyson-style. I have a strategy, but I cannot talk about it now.
Sherdog.com: What was it like meeting Tyson, one of your idols?
Teixeira: Honestly, it was different. I felt several emotions. The last sparring session I had with Chuck before coming to Brazil, we beat the hell out of each other. It was like a brawl. Then Chuck hugged me and said, with his eyes filled with tears, “I’ll miss you. Come back soon because you’ll be champion, I’m sure.” It was a big thrill. With Tyson, it was very similar. I almost cried. He gave me tips, asked me to move my head more, like he did.
Sherdog.com: How do you see the fight between Machida and Davis playing out at UFC 163?
Teixeira: Davis is tough, but their games don’t match up for him. Lyoto wins by knockout.
Sherdog.com: At UFC on Fuel TV 10, we had a run of submissions, and we have several legends of jiu-jitsu competing in the UFC, from Ronaldo “Jacare” Souza, Roger Gracie and Demian Maia to Santos and Antonio Braga Neto. Do you think jiu-jitsu is returning to a place of prominence in MMA?
Teixeira: It’s almost a cycle. All those guys you mentioned are good with their standup, too. Santos was exchanging with “Patolino,” who tried to take him down. Before, the jiu-jitsu guys forced their opponent to the ground. It’s different now: exchange first and, well, if you go to the ground, you’re home.
Sherdog.com: You have trained with many people, including Vitor Belfort. How do you think he would do in a second fight against Anderson Silva?
Teixeira: I think Anderson will get past Weidman without any problems. I would like to see Vitor face “Jacare,” with the winner facing Anderson. I don’t know if “Jacare” and Anderson would fight each other since they train together, but if I were a matchmaker, I would do it.
Sherdog.com: Do you think “Jacare” will be the future middleweight champion once Anderson retires?
Teixeira: I think so, but there are new talents emerging. Just watch “The Ultimate Fighter” in Brazil and the U.S. Look at a guy like “Patolino,” who came out of the favela, caught a bus every day to train and signed a contract with the UFC. These guys who have talent learn to eat better, train better and become top-level fighters. “The Ultimate Fighter” changes lives, and it will be difficult for anyone to remain at the top for as long as Anderson has.
Sherdog.com: What is it like for you to be recognized on the streets of Brazil?
Teixeira: After fighting for the dream of being a UFC fighter for so many years, I’m really happy that people recognize me in my country. It’s really impressive how popular MMA is, but the most important thing for me is that I’ll always be the same person. Everyone treats me the same way in my city. I’m happy to be a good example of someone who realized his dream, who came where I came from, arrived in the UFC and lived by the sport. No matter where I get, I’ll never forget where I came from.