Glover Teixeira reminded everyone why he earned that title shot last year.
The Brazilian slugger put on a resurgent performance by submitting Ovince Saint Preux with a rear-naked choke in the third round of their UFC Fight Night 73 main event Saturday in Nashville. Saint Preux refused to tap; Teixeira put him to sleep and then immediately checked on his opponent afterward.
Teixeira (23-4) seemed like he was on the downside of his career with two straight losses against Jon Jones and Phil Davis. In the latter, especially, he looked dreadful. But Teixeira, 35, said his conditioning was not up to par in that Davis bout and it looked far, far better against Saint Preux.
From the start, Teixeira's gameplan was take Saint Preux down and grind him out. It was effective early and often, around a devastating liver kick by OSP that almost ended the fight in the first round.
Two judges had Saint Preux (18-7) winning the first round, but the rest of the fight was all Teixeira's wrestling and jiu-jitsu. He finished things in the third by taking OSP's back and choking him out in front of his home state fans.
Afterward, Teixeira had a message for the UFC light heavyweight champion Daniel Cormier.
"I'm back," Teixeira told Jon Anik in the Octagon. "Cormier, I told you before. I'm coming for you, baby!"
Teixeira now puts his name right back among the significant ones in the light heavyweight division. Saint Preux, 32, will have to go back to the drawing board after big knockout wins over Mauricio Rua and Patrick Cummins.
"I swear to God, I'm gonna be back better than ever," said Saint Preux, who played football for the University of Tennessee. "I'm still in the hunt, I promise."
The co-main event provided some controversy. Beneil Dariush edged out Michael Johnson via split decision (28-29, 29-28, 29-28) on the scorecards, but most people thought Johnson should have gotten the nod. Dariush almost certainly won the third round, but Johnson seemed to do enough to win the first two -- notably dropping Dariush in the first.
Even Dariush (12-1) seemed stunned when he heard the results. The 26-year-old has now won five straight. Johnson (16-9) was on a four-fight winning streak before the loss, which was a tough one to swallow. Judges Richard Bertrand and Doug Crosby scored it for Dariush.
Amanda Nunes etched her name among the next potential contenders for Ronda Rousey with an impressive first-round submission win over Sara McMann. Nunes pounced after a lackluster low kick by McMann and dropped her with a right hand. Nunes then finished on the ground with a rear-naked choke.
Nunes (11-4) has now won two straight by first-round TKO and four of her last five.
Ray Borg also had a stellar performance, besting Geane Herrera via unanimous decision in rather dominant fashion. Jared Rosholt grinded out a decision win over Timothy Johnson, though Johnson nearly knocked him out late.
On the prelims, Uriah Hall finished debuting Oluwale Bambgose via TKO in the first round, Dustin Ortiz finished Willie Gates via third-round TKO and Jonathan Wilson debuted with a bang -- a first-round knockout of Chris Dempsey.
Chris Camozzi bested Tom Watson via unanimous decision, Frankie Saenz defeated Sirwan Kakai by decision, Marlon Vera submitted Roman Salazar with a slick triangle-armbar and Scott Holtzman submitted Anthony Christodoulou.