Glover Teixiera’s long-awaited UFC championship win wasn’t easy, but it wasn’t as difficult as he thought it would be.
The 42-year-old fan favorite became the UFC’s oldest first-time titleholder at UFC 267, where he finished Jan Blachowicz by rear-naked choke submission three minutes into the second round of their main event bout. One could argue that Teixeira made it look easy, which wasn’t what Teixiera expected at all when he stepped foot in the octagon that night.
“When Joe Martinez was announcing my name, I was just looking at the ground, looking at the blood in there,” Teixeira said on The MMA Hour. “I’m a bleeder myself, so I was like, ‘We’re gonna contribute to this blood because this is gonna be a war.’ Thinking that, ‘This is gonna be a war. It’s not gonna be an easy fight, but I’m ready for whatever comes in this cage. There’s a man across the octagon with me and I have to beat him. I’ll be world champion tonight.’
“I really think the whole thing is gonna be hard. I look at the fence, I look like how can I take him down and get elbows and watching this and that, so I didn’t think I was going to dominate him and take him down that easy. Again, ‘easy’ with all respect. It was a quick takedown.”
Teixeira stung Blachowicz on the feet first, but sure enough once he saw an opportunity to turn the fight into a grappling match he took it. Showing his elite jiu-jitsu, Teixiera quickly took Blachowicz’s back and it wasn’t long before he found the championship-winning submission.
At a glance, Blachowicz’s tap-out occurred in a flash, his hand slapping the mat within seconds of Teixiera securing the choke. Teixeira believes that Blachowicz might have just made a smart decision given the circumstances.
“I was punching him and we call the move, ‘spread the chicken,’” Teixeira said. “So I stretch him to the ground, my cup is pressing on his back. That’s a very uncomfortable pressure there and as soon as I put the hand, he tapped.
“But I knew he wasn’t gonna go anywhere, so he probably knew that too. It’s a tough position to get out of so might as well just tap I guess.”
If the win itself seemed simple enough, the road to get there was anything but. Teixeira had already had one shot at the UFC title and while he remained highly ranked, his results over the next few years were mixed as he continued to fight nothing but top competition.
It was his July 2018 loss to Corey Anderson that forced Teixeira to rethink his whole approach.
“After the Corey Anderson fight, right after then I just sit back and I see that the fight wasn’t like — He didn’t hurt me or nothing, you know?” Teixeira said. “He just took me down a lot and I went for the guillotine and I wasn’t getting anything, but right away that’s when I talked to myself and said I’m gonna do everything possible. I’m not gonna go back after this fight, I’m not gonna go back and stay out of camp, I’m just gonna stay in camp. I’m just gonna train hard all the time.”
Over the course of his near 20-year career, Teixiera has been championship-adjacent, but only now does he have a world title to call his own. Teixeira is a longtime training partner and friend of former light heavyweight champion Chuck Liddell and he also recalled training with future heavyweight champion Cain Velasquez when Velasquez was just a couple of fights into his career.
Teixiera is understandably thrilled at being able to have “UFC champion” next to his name for all time, but he stops short of saying that he’d live with any regrets if he hadn’t taken the title from Blachowicz.
“I don’t take life like that,” Teixeira said. “You go on and you try to do something, you can’t get attached to those things. You can get attached to outside materials, outside world. It’s a good accomplishment, yeah, I’m super happy about it. My career, my life, better financially, but reality is you can’t get attached to something.
“Life is to play. When you live, you breathe, you have clean water, shelter, and food, we should be happy. Accomplishment is a great thing, we always shoot for so many things in this world, but reality is if you don’t get it you’ve just gotta go on. Move on. It wouldn’t bother me, I know that for sure. And that’s the reason I think I was so calm, so relaxed for this fight. I knew this is a game, man. Today I’m on top, tomorrow I won’t be on top anymore. You can’t really get too attached and identify yourself with these things.”