How Glover Teixeira, 41, turned things around to earn a title shot in the 'twilight of his career'

Glover Teixeira will turn 42 years old on Thursday, two days before he challenges Jan Blachowicz for the light heavyweight title at Etihad Arena on Fight Island in Abu Dhabi in the main event of UFC 267 on Saturday.

The UFC’s present to Teixeira, whose only title fight previously was a one-sided decision loss to Jon Jones at UFC 172 in 2014, was the construction of the Performance Institute (PI). Teixeira’s on a late-career resurgence and credits the work of the staff at the PI for much of it.

“They’ve got him training the right way and so we’re getting the most out of him now,” Teixeira head coach John Hackleman said.

Teixeira is on a five-fight winning streak, finishing four of the five, since a 2018 decision loss to Corey Anderson on July 22, 2018, in Germany.

Teixeira was at a low point after the loss but wasn’t ready to concede that age was the reason he was no longer as effective as he once was. But, as it turns out, it was.

At least in part, anyway.

Teixeira reached out to Duncan French, the vice president of performance at the PI, for help. They met for the first time in May 2019, right after he defeated Karl Roberson.

And while Teixeira didn’t want to point the finger at age, French immediately noticed it.

“Obviously, Glover is a guy coming to the twilight of his career, and he’s 41 now,” French told Yahoo Sports. “The age consideration was an important thing. When he first came to us and engaged with us, we had a conversation about prolonging his career and maximizing his earning potential.

“We looked at his training strategies and did a lot of work to make his training approach more efficient, more effective and promote his recovery so he could go into each training session with his coaches and really maximize his potential. What is really endemic in this population, there was some overreaching and overtraining activities that we felt we could help him out with.”

Teixeira took to heart the advice he received, and he’s been a different fighter since.

He’s shot up the rankings and is poised to win a title he has sought for as long as he can remember.

LAS VEGAS, NEVADA - NOVEMBER 07: Glover Teixeira of Brazil prepares to fight Thiago Santos in a light heavyweight fight during the UFC Fight Night event at UFC APEX on November 07, 2020 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC)
Glover Teixeira of Brazil prepares to fight Thiago Santos in a light heavyweight fight during the UFC Fight Night event at Apex on Nov. 7, 2020 in Las Vegas. (Photo by Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC)

He said “I had to change my lifestyle,” but in his case, changing his lifestyle was meant differently from most who say that. Teixeira went too hard, too often and didn’t allow his body to rest and recover. So come fight night, he wasn’t able to perform optimally.

He’s a world-class athlete and he overcame that for the most part, but beating the best of the best of the best, which one must do to win a world title, was a different story.

The PI staff often faces pushback when they try to get the fighters to adjust what they do. They’ve had a lot of success in just getting to the UFC and they’re concerned that changing may negatively impact them.

Teixeira, though, had an open mind and French was grateful, because he’s been able to affect meaningful, and obvious, change.

“That’s the crux of it,” French said when asked about getting successful athletes to alter their training regimen. “We’re working with world-class athletes. They were hugely successful before us and they’ll be successful after we’re gone as well. We keep that in perspective, but clearly, with many of these athletes, they’re successful in spite of and not because of their training methods.

“We’re also dealing with the warrior spirit that is a combat athlete. They basically have a desire to run through a brick wall and put themselves through a pretty ambitious training schedule. It’s a real thing we deal with. There is a lot of dogma. You think of a guy coming out of the favelas in Brazil and jiu-jitsu athletes and there is a cultural issue. We’re trying to implement science and the latest insights.”

The UFC has collected more than 320 data points on Teixeira’s body and how it reacts in training. At 41, he’s not testing above some of the 23- or 25-year-olds that are there, but he’s made significant improvements and that, combined with his natural MMA talent and experience, are making a difference.

Teixeira said he knew he needed to change to maximize his window.

“I’m not going to be fighting when I’m 80,” he said, chuckling. “There is a short period of time where I can still do this. I have to be smarter and do things in a scientific way and I have been able to get the most out of myself. I’m going into the fights as good as I can be and that’s allowing me to have success.”

A Teixeira win on Saturday might make French one of the most popular employees of the UFC. Other fighters who aren’t taking advantage of what the PI has to offer may be calling French on Monday to set up an evaluation.

“For me, it’s what I had to do and I’m able to be at my peak when the [bell rings],” Teixeira said. “That’s the whole point of [training], to be at your best when the fight starts.”