RIO DE JANEIRO – Glover Teixeira is an old man, relative to the usual landscape of mixed martial arts and he understands that. But in a way, that’s been the story of his entire career.
As he sat at a UFC 283 news conference Wednesday ahead of his third career title challenger, Teixeira (33-8 MMA, 16-6 UFC) seemed comfortable, respectful, and confident – the usual demeanor, unfazed by the potentially historic win ahead of him Saturday.
With age comes experience, but also doubt. For 43-year-old Teixeira, however, the criticism rings hollow. For much of his career, he’s been considered to be older than he should be for where he’s at.
“This was before I even got in the UFC,” Teixeira told reporters including MMA Junkie. “People said, ‘Oh, you’re past your prime,’ when I was here waiting for my green card. People here said, ‘Oh you’re past your prime and now you’re going to the UFC. Your best time is right now to go.’ I always looked up to guys like Randy Couture and Dan Henderson, fighting at an older age. Now, I am here, man, fighting at the highest level, bringing the Best Fight of the Year, winning the belt at 42. Now, hopefully, I’ll get the belt again at 43 years old and make history. I love to be motivation for the young guys, for sure.”
Teixeira will fight Jamahal Hill (11-1 MMA, 5-1 UFC) for the vacant UFC light heavyweight title at Jeunesse Arena. It will be his first fight back since he lost the championship to Jiri Prochazka. It’s been a wild seven months for Teixeira, who was granted an immediate rematch. The opportunity eventually passed him over when Prochazka withdrew from the fight due to injury and he couldn’t come to terms with the UFC on a fight vs. fill-in Ankalaev.
Instead, Ankalaev fought former champion Jan Blachowicz, the man Teixeira defeated for the belt at UFC 267 in October 2021. Ankalaev and Blachowicz fought to a draw, which meant no new champion was crowned. So the promotion paired Teixeira with Hill for a booking one month after.
“I was surprised for the past two months,” Teixeira said. “I was very surprised for the past two months with everything that happened. But hey, we started working in like August. I started talking about, ‘Hey, let’s go fight in Rio, Jiri.’ And Jiri didn’t want to fight here and all this stuff happens and here we are. Here we are with Jamahal Hill now. Let’s get it.”
Hill, 31, doesn’t have nearly as much name recognition or resume depth as Teixeira, but that doesn’t mean the Brazilian is taking him any more lightly than if he was to fight the biggest name out there. Teixeira heaped respect toward Hill.
“He’s a dangerous fighter,” Teixeira said. “He’s proving (himself). When they said, ‘Jamahal Hill,’ I had no question about, ‘Is this guy way down, ranked in the (top) 10.’ I never thought about that. I think Jamahal Hill is up there, man. He’s a very dangerous fighter, a very good fighter. He’s the next (fighter). When you think about it, between (Magomed) Ankalaev, Jan (Blachowicz), and Jiri (Prochazka) are out. He’s the next guy. It’s not my job to even think about this stuff. I just think it’s going to be a good matchup. It’s going to be a fun fight.”
Despite his age, Teixeira declined to talk too much about the future. Sure, a Prochazka rematch interests him, but Teixeira chose not to elaborate too much on future fights when the present bout hasn’t even happened yet.
“It’s amazing to see when you want something you’ve got to figure out what you have to do to get that,” Teixeira said. “Like, ‘OK, I have to stop this, to do this, to discipline myself, and to focus. I want to keep fighting for a long time.’ Yes, because there’s no plans to lose this fight. I’m not thinking, ‘Oh, if I lose…’ I’m thinking if I win the belt, I’m going to defend it. That’s my thought right now. I’m not really (letting a loss) go into my mind and retire right now. I’m in my prime now.”
For more on the card, visit MMA Junkie’s event hub for UFC 283.