Glover Teixeira will share a cage with Rashad Evans on April 16, replacing injured Mauricio Rua on five weeks’ notice in the co-main event of Tampa’s UFC on FOX 19, but admits that he would have said yes for any opponent the promotion had offered.
"I wanted to fight anyone because I don’t want to lose momentum and rhythm," Teixeira told MMAFighting.com. "I wasn’t injured after the (Patrick) Cummins fight, and I wanted to fight. I will fight anyone. I will always fight anyone, anywhere."
The Brazilian light heavyweight, who finished Cummins and Ovince St. Preux in 2015, was slated to face Evans in February of 2015, when he was coming off losses to Jon Jones and Phil Davis, but a knee injury kept him sidelined for months. At 2-0 since healing his knee, Teixeira will finally get a chance to fight the former champion.
"Rashad is a good fighter. It’s hard to fight him," he said. "He has some good leg movement, he’s a good fighter and a good name, so let’s do this fight to climb one more step in the ladder."
Even though he expects to move up the ladder towards a title shot, Teixeira doesn’t believe he will move in the rankings. Currently ranked at No. 4 in the UFC ranking, below champion Daniel Cormier and contenders Jon Jones, Anthony Johnson and Alexander Gustafsson, the Brazilian believes he will continue at No. 4 after UFC on FOX 19.
"A win makes me more confident, more experienced, gives me more knowledge," Teixeira said. "I don’t know where I am in the division. I don’t pay attention to those things. I believe I’m a top 5, but it won’t change anything. What’s going to change? If I lose to him, it would change, but if I win, nothing changes, I will stay at the same spot I already am.
"Rashad is below me, just like my last fights with Cummins and St. Preux. It hasn’t changed anything. I only defended my position there. If I lose, I will drop down. I’m the one taking risks every time I fight, but I have to fight to wait for the possibility of fighting for the belt."
Holding a 6-3 record since losing his belt to Lyoto Machida in 2009, Evans only fought once since 2013, losing to Ryan Bader last October. Despite his opponent’s long layoff due to injuries, Teixeira doesn’t think it means an advantage during the fight.
"It depends on what he did in the gym," he said. "If he used that time to learn, do some changes in his style, it’s better for him. After my fight with Phil Davis, I took some time off and I’m way better now. I did some changes in my camp. That depends, so I don’t think it makes the difference."
Jon Jones, who defeated Teixeira via unanimous decision in 2014, will attempt to get his belt back when he rematches Daniel Cormier on April 23. Gunning for another shot at the light heavyweight gold, Teixeira won’t try to convince Jones to change his plans, which includes a win over Cormier and title defenses against Johnson and Gustafsson before moving up to the heavyweight division.
"It doesn’t matter much what Jon Jones will do with his life, his career. I don’t have anything against Jon Jones," said Teixeira. "We are fighters and we do whatever we want with our lives. I will keep fighting and trying to get a title shot. About the past, it’s all learning. I lost to him, and I learned. I am who I am today because of the losses and victories I had. Now, it’s about doing whatever I can in the present to have a better future. I don’t look at rematches because this guy beat me, this or that... I live my life day by day."