RIO DE JANEIRO, Brazil -- Glover Teixeira needed less than 16 months to win five fights in the UFC and earn a shot at the light heavyweight title, and he is confident that his quick rise will continue as soon as he puts his hands on the gold.
Seven days after defeating Ryan Bader at UFC Fight Night 28 in Belo Horizonte, Brazil, Teixeira spent a day in Rio de Janeiro and spoke to MMA Fighting about that special moment in his career, before boarding a flight to Miami to get back to training at American Top Team.
"When I heard that I was the next in line for the title, I was very happy," Teixeira said. "Now I’ll just train hard and get this belt."
Teixeira, who signed with the UFC after putting together an impressive streak of 15 wins (14 of them finishes) defeated former champion Quinton "Rampage" Jackson back in early 2012. Jackson was the only one to go the distance with Teixeira. He made easy work of everybody else he fought -- including very quick work of James Te Huna at UFC 160 -- and that dominance was enough to earn him a headlining spot a UFC card for the first time.
After his first-round TKO victory over Bader, Dana White believed it was enough for the John Hackleman-trained fighter to get his crack at UFC gold.
"I believed it could take maybe two years to earn a title shot," he said, "because I arrived in the UFC with bigger hype than anyone else after all of the fights I’d won in Brazil."
Teixeira will be in Toronto to watch Jon Jones vs. Alexander Gustafsson at UFC 165, on Sept. 21, to determine who'll be defending the 205-pound belt against him. He predicts the current champion will remain on top by night's end.
"I expect this to be a tough fight, but I believe Jones is more complete," he said. "His wrestling and jiu-jitsu are better, and he will win. I believe he will take [Gustafsson] down and finish [the fight]. That’s the way I see this fight going."
Teixeira thinks Jones deserves all the attention he has been getting for racking up nine consecutive wins inside the Octagon, particularly with five of them coming against former champions. But, at the same time, he's sure Jones won’t get much closer to Anderson Silva’s record.
"Jon Jones is at the top for a long time, can’t say enough about him," he said. "But I have to take this belt from him. Every phenom goes down one day."
From the other side of it, despite Teixeira’s first-round win over Bader, Jones didn’t seem overly impressed with his performance.
"I don't mind people thinking I'm going to lose, just come at me with something logical," Jones tweeted after the fight.
When asked about Teixeira’s style, "Bones" compared Teixeira to one of his last challengers.
"I think he's a lot like ‘Rampage,' just with better grappling," he said.
Not that Teixeira is too worried about Jones’ opinion.
"My style may look like Rampage’s, but you can be sure that I’m hungrier than Rampage to win," he said. "This is my moment. I’m very happy for this opportunity and I will get this belt."
Teixeira's habit of getting hit, which people picked up on going back to his battle with Fabio Maldonado at UFC 153, is one of the causes for concern in a potential Teixeira-Jones battle. Similarly, some fans think that Bader exposed Teixeira after rocking him twice and even knocking him down in that furious first round in Belo Horizonte.
But Teixeira doesn’t see the fight this way.
"This fight showed that I’m in shape," he said. "I can take one or two punches, but I will recover. I will do the training that I always do. The only mistake that I made was to come out very aggressively, to start first. You have to let the guy wonder what you’re going to do.
"I was a little upset with the knockdown, [because] I opened myself too much. I saw the punch coming and let him hit me, but I can’t let that happen. That’s why I was a little upset. But I was okay -- I got a little dizzy, but recovered quickly. I saw what Bader was doing and knew I’d have the opportunity to knock him out or take him down to work on the ground and pound."
Jones has defeated four Brazilians in the UFC, with finishes over Lyoto Machida, Vitor Belfort and Mauricio "Shogun" Rua. The fact that Teixeira is one of Brazil’s "last hopes" against the light heavyweight kingpin doesn’t bother the 33-year old jiu-jitsu black belt.
"We have Rafael Cavalcante, Rogerio Nogueira, Thiago Silva...a lot of strong fighters," he said. "But that’s the way the sport is. You lose one fight and go down [the ladder], but then you beat one name and are right back up. We need to stay focused, that’s the secret. But I’ll be the one to bring this title to Brazil."
Teixeira will be the spectator with the most riding in Toronto, and he might enter the Octagon to challenge the winner after the bout.
"I don’t know if the UFC will do that, but the challenge is already made," he said. "There’s no place to run. I expect to fight in early 2014, maybe February. I hope it doesn’t take too much longer to fight for the title."
Teixeira has come a long way from the visa issues that kept him out of the UFC for so long. Now as a UFC title contender, he says life hasn't drastically changed..
"No, it didn’t change much," he said. "I’m a very simple guy. The only thing that really changed was the financial part. Now, I don’t need to worry about fights anymore. Before getting into the UFC, we were worried about getting a fight to make some money, but now I’m always scheduled to compete."
Teixeira has won two end of the night bonuses in the UFC so far -- his knockout over Bader, and his submission of Te Huna -- and he's using the money and stability to purchase a home.
"I’ll buy a house for me and my family," he said. "I tried to buy one a few months ago but I didn’t have credit in the U.S. yet. But now I believe I’ll be able to. Fifty grand is fifty grand, right?"
Always quiet and somewhat averse to interviews, the Brazilian is now used to interacting with the fans, especially in his hometown Sobralia, Minas Gerais. After the fight, he went to Sobralia to party with his friends and family, and he was happy to be welcomed as a hero.
"It was great, everybody supporting me, wanting to take pictures with me," he said. "I had a three-day party at home with my family. I am Sobralia’s biggest idol now; people love and support me a lot there. There are always some people to criticize you, but that’s okay -- 99.9 percent of the people there support me."