It won’t be as originally planned, but Glover Teixeira will get his shot at the light heavyweight title after all.
The former UFC champion went from rematching Jiri Prochazka in Las Vegas to now battling Jamahal Hill for the vacant belt in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, after Prochazka stepped away due to an injury and Jan Blachowicz vs. Magomed Ankalaev ended in a split draw.
Teixeira, who once flirted with retirement as champion, said on this week’s episode of MMA Fighting podcast Trocação Franca there’s absolute no chance he walks away from the sport if crowned champion at UFC 283 on Jan. 21.
“It definitely won’t be any retirement now,” Teixeira said. “Someone asked me back then, ‘Do you think one more fight, and then defend your belt at Madison Square Garden [and retire]?’ I said ‘Who knows.’ If this weekend, especially what happened to me, hasn’t taught me anything… I never make plans for the future. I live in the present. I don’t have such plans, ‘I’ll retire at that date.’ The day I retire will be the day I’m training poorly, when I don’t want to go to the gym anymore.
“I had moments like that back in the day. I was dealing with injuries, I was down. When I lost to Corey Anderson I thought, ‘F***, I’ll fight one more and if I lose, I’ll retire.’ But then I was happy again, new gym, changing a few things and being happy as f***. I love to be training and fighting. You saw my last fight, the one with Jiri. We see the level I’m fighting. It’s intense. My fight is intense and that’s why people can’t keep up with it.”
Teixeira was cageside at UFC 282 and thought Ankalaev would get the nod after five rounds, but then Bruce Buffer announced that Blachowicz vs. Ankalaev was ruled a split draw. Teixeira said “even the draw was a bit wrong, [but] things went wrong in order to go right for me.”
“I thought, what about me? Who am I fighting now? There’s no champion,” Teixeira said of his immediate reaction. “But I didn’t think too much about it. I was cool. They called me right after and took me to a meeting room backstage and we got it done. It was quick. [UFC chief business officer Hunter Campbell] asked me if I was down to fighting Jamahal Hill for the belt in Brazil and I said, ‘Sure, talk to the managers and we’ll get it done. Let’s go.”
Of all the four fighters involved in the equation, Teixeira said Prochazka is the trickier to prepare for since he’s “very awkward and hits hard from different positions,” but Hill is just as tough.
Hill was an 11-year-old kid when Teixeira made his MMA debut in 2002 and gets his shot at the gold after a trio of knockouts over Thiago Santos, Johnny Walker and Jimmy Crute. “Sweet Dreams” was originally scheduled to headline a UFC Fight Night card in March opposite Anthony Smith.
Teixeira, however, won’t expect Hill to be in worse shape because he wasn’t deep in training camp.
“That’s not the case, to think I’m better prepared than the guy,” Teixeira said. “I’m the better man, that’s what I have to think. Do the right strategy and submit this guy. Take him down, submit him, or knock him out. Everybody knows my style already. Take him down, but get the hand gets in if he lets it.”
In the end, if victorious in Rio de Janeiro, Teixeira will call himself the best No. 1 light heavyweight fighter on the planet even thought he wouldn’t have avenged his most recent defeat to Prochazka just yet.
“It’s about the moment,” he said. “Prochazka won a fight with 28 seconds left. If I get up there and win for 28 seconds I’d be the champion. I was winning. It’s not like I was getting beat up the entire fight and lost, and now I’m the champion again. So, for sure, I’ll go after the belt. No one owns it. I’ll show I’m the best in the world. If Prochazka recovers before the end of the year, I don’t know if he can do it, then we’ll fight again. I won’t make plans. Like I said, I’ll only make plans for the next six weeks and train fucking hard.”