Anthony Smith is a fan of both men who will be vying for the UFC light heavyweight crown on Oct. 30 when Jan Blachowicz looks to defend his title against Smith’s past opponent, 41-year-old challenger Glover Teixeira, at UFC 267.
But Smith can’t pretend as if he’s not pulling for one outcome, in particular.
“I really like Jan. Huge fan of him and how he carries himself. I think he’s a fantastic champion, fantastic competitor. I hear nothing but good things about who he is as a person. I’d love to drink beer with him sometime. But goddamnit, I just need Glover Teixeira to win,” Smith said recently on The MMA Hour. “And not because he beat me [in May 2020] and it makes me look better. I just think that man just deserves it, you know?
“Like, if Glover Teixeira can sail off into the sunset someday, at least for that moment in time wearing a 12-pound gold belt around his waist, I just think that would put a lot of good into the world. That gives a lot of people like me hope and it motivates a lot of older guys, and it’s just a feel-good story. So I hope Glover [wins].”
Teixeira’s rise back to title contention has been one of the sport’s most unexpected underdog stories over the the last few years. After losing three of five fights from mid-2016 to 2018 — including a grisly 13-second knockout loss to Anthony Johnson — Teixeira was assumed to be on the last legs of his lengthy MMA career. But the Brazilian veteran has managed to silence his doubters at every turn since, rattling off five consecutive wins over tough opposition — highlighted by four stoppages — on his way to securing an unexpected title shot in his twilight years.
Smith was one of those five victims to become a casualty to Teixeira’s streak, and he likes his former opponent’s chances against Blachowicz at UFC 267.
“I think Glover can win as long as he avoids the big shot,” Smith said. “I think whichever guy can end up on top first, I would suspect will be the guy that ends up winning that fight. Because I would guess, if I’m Glover, I’m going into that fight figuring out how to get to Jan’s body without taking a huge shot in the process. And if Glover gets on top of him, I don’t see Jan getting back up. I don’t see Glover finishing him though.
“But he’s got the gas tank, he can wear him out, he can be heavy on top and just chip away at him like he did to Thiago [Santos] and me.”
Smith went on to note that he personally likes and respects both of UFC 267’s headliners. In many ways, Blachowicz’s late-career rise to the title was just as inspiring and unexpected as Teixeira’s.
He simply wants both men to be able to call themselves a champion for the rest of the their days, and unfortunately there’s only one way for that to be possible.
“They both are deserving champions, right?” Smith said. “Like, if Glover wins, they both get to be UFC world champions for whatever amount of time that ends up lasting for.
“But if Jan wins, then that sucks because then only one of them gets to do that. And I think those are two guys that are both good enough to be world champions and they’re both deserving of it. I think that having both of those guys in the division, two older guys, two really good guys — like kind of the ‘good guys’ in the division — it’s one of those [things] like, I guess we don’t have to be pricks to make it and to be successful.”