Glover Teixeira made his case for a shot at the UFC light heavyweight in an emotional post-fight interview after stopping Thiago Santos in the main event of UFC Vegas 13 in November, but that wasn’t enough to convince the company to book him against Jan Blachowicz.
With the Polish champion now slated to defend his crown against middleweight king Israel Adesanya on March 6, a decision that “didn’t surprise” Teixeira despite his optimism after putting on such “exciting performance” against Santos, the Brazilian is considering offering himself as an alternate for either champion at UFC 259.
“Of course,” Teixeira told MMA Fighting when asked if he would agree to be a backup fighter in March. “I’ll be rooting for… [laughs] It sucks, I’ve never rooted for anyone to get hurt, but I’ll be rooting for an injury there [laughs].”
MMA promotions have been affected by injuries and other hiccups throughout history, cancelling big fights on just days’ notice, and the COVID-19 pandemic has added another element of concern.
With that in mind, Teixeira sees a real possibility he could be used at UFC 259 even if Blachowicz is the one withdrawing from the card since “both would be a good fight, I’d be fighting a champion either way.”
“I just got back from vacation, so I’ll talk to [my manager] ‘Joinha’ [Jorge Guimaraes] and see what we’ll do, but [being a backup fighter] is a possibility,” Teixeira said. “I would have to do a full camp so, even if I have to wait, at least I did a camp, I won’t lose rhythm. Like you said, COVID is complicated, you really have to pull out if you catch it.”
The 41-year-old veteran understands the UFC’s decision to book a clash of champions to boost pay-per-view sales, and that decision comes with the cost of putting the line of contenders on hold in both weight classes. Teixeira, who once challenged for the UFC throne, won his last five against “Marreta” Santos, Anthony Smith, Nikita Krylov, Ion Cutelaba and Karl Roberson.
“If Adesanya wins, what happens then?” Teixeira said. “Will Adesanya defend at 185 or 205? I don’t know. If that means sitting down and waiting until June, August, I don’t know, maybe I would wait, I don’t mind. But, honestly, we don’t know anything. Blachowicz winning would be better for me and everyone else. But if Adesanya wins, what is he going to do? He’s probably going back to 185.”
“Honestly, I’m not stressing about the belt,” he continued. “It’s superfights, they come up with belts when there are none in line, like the baddest motherf*cker [belt]. It’s about entertaining, and I’m not against that. They see the business side of it, Dana White sees where the money is coming. Honestly, it delays a bit for us but, hey, we have to follow the evolution of the sport, and that’s how the sport is evolving these days.
“When I started fighting, the sport was more about aggressive fighters, knockouts, Wanderlei Silva-style, Chuck Liddell. To kill or get killed. That’s what I’ve done in my fights. There’s no talk, it’s about going there to kill or get killed. I’ve been knocked out, I go for it no matter who I’m fighting, but that’s not what sells today. I’m stuck with the old school, that’s when I should be fighting. That’s my time. Wanderlei, PRIDE days, Chuck Liddell’s, Tito Ortiz’s…
“I don’t have that in me. [Paulo Costa] ‘Borrachinha’ does that really well. I think Brazilians should really do that because it draws attention. You can’t sit and complain. It’s not my thing, but also I’m 41 and I won’t change now. I’ll continue doing what I’ve always done. But if I were young… People talk crap about Borrachinha, but he’s right. He just got here, he’s in his prime, and he’s using that in his advantage. If I had his age and was just getting started in the UFC, I’d talk a lot as well.”