Glover Teixeira has taken the UFC’s light heavyweight division by storm, sky rocketing to the top of the ladder in the span of a year. The Brazilian powerhouse most recently defeated former UFC light heavyweight champ Quinton “Rampage” Jackson but he anticipates a tougher challenge from Australian based fighter James Te Huna at UFC 160 this weekend.
Teixeira was origionally slated to meet NCAA Division I All-American wrestler Ryan Bader this weekend but an injury to The Ultimate Fighter season 8 champ opened the door for Australia’s Te Huna to step in, a switch up that pleased Teixeira:
“It happened about ten weeks out of the fight so it wasn’t a big deal to me with the opponent change and I think James Te Huna is a better fight for the fans, because of the way he fights,” Teixeira told MMA Kanvas this morning.
Bookmakers have Te Huna pegged as almost a four-to-one underdog. The Sydneysider doesn’t have the name value of “Rampage” Jackson but Teixeira isn’t taking him lightly.
“This is not a step down in competition, this is a step up. Quinton (Jackson) was a great fighter, and still is a great fighter but James Te Huna is hungry and climbing up the hill to the top, he really wants this.”
“With Quinton (Jackson) I don’t know how badly he wants this anymore, in my mind (James Te Huna) is a harder fight and I don’t care what the media says or where he is in the rankings.” he contined.
Teixeira was considered one of the hottest free agents for years. The former heavyweight fighter desperately wanted to test his mettle against the UFC’s top talent but was kept out of the United States for three years due to visa issues.
“I was leaving the United States when I applied for a green card. The only way to do it was to go back to Brazil and wait. Then I had to wait on papers, it really shouldn’t take that long but I know that my lawyer messed up some papers.” he said.
As he entered his 30’s, concerns grew that his prime years might be wasted fighting inferior opposition on small shows in his home country but he kept a positive attitude:
“It was very frustrating” Teixeira said. “I was fighting the best I could get out of the United States and I was training with some of the best – Lyoto (Machida), Chuck (Liddell), (Pedro) Rizzo, and I would think ‘I can hang with the best fighters but I can’t get into the UFC,’” he continued.
“I had to keep a positive mindset though, I knew it was going to happen one day. Chuck (Liddell) told me ‘You have to fight anyone and if you can’t beat those guys you aren’t supposed to be in the UFC anyway,’” Teixeira remembers.
“In a way it was a good thing though, I got a lot of training and a lot more fights under my belt, now it’s over I’m happy that it happened,” he said.
When Teixeira finally got cleared to enter the United States, he was like a contained animal that finally broke free from his shackles, making short work of Kyle Kingsbury before bloodying and beating Fabio Maldinado in his native Brazil to set up a showdown with former UFC champ, “Rampage” Jackson.
“It was a big deal to me (to fight Jackson). He was one of my favourite fighters back in Pride when he was slamming people down and doing all that crazy stuff (laughs), I liked him a lot and for me to be fighting him was a great feeling,” Teixeira stated.
Jackson taunted his Brazilian foe in the media leading up to their blockbuster fight at UFC on FOX 6, challenging him to trade blow-for-blow with the knockout artist and Teixeira answered in full, spending the majority of the contest beating him at his own game in a striking match.
Following that defeat, his third loss in a row, Jackson was expelled from the premiere MMA organisation.
Teixeira is in the UFC for one reason – to earn ten pounds (4.5kg) of championship gold, that validates his life work and spoils of war but he is in no rush to face UFC champion Jon Jones:
“I think I need a few more fights (before fighting Jones) but it depends how you win fights but I want to be fighting for the title by next year,” he predicted.
“I want more experience before I fight him, I mean if I got the call saying ‘You are fighting Jon Jones’ I would be so happy and would take that belt because I am ready but I am just happy to be fighting and (building) my way up (the division).”
The jovial giant doesn’t know how the fight with Te Huna will play out this Sunday afternoon, all he knows is that he will remain undefeated inside the Octagon:
“At the end of the night I will be talking with Joe (Rogan) and my hand will be raised, that’s how I envision this fight (laughs).”