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It’s tempting to call Glover Teixeira’s UFC 267 light heavyweight title winning a storybook ending, but that would ignore the fact that he still has chapters to write.
Teixeira, 42, made one of the most legendary career comebacks of all time in the card main event, outscoring Polish champion and big betting favorite Jan Blachowicz en route to a second round victory in the back. The Brazilian’s age alone made his title impressive – he is now the oldest champion for the first time in UFC history. But his victory is made even more laudable by the fact that he has been counted so many times before.
After losing to Jon Jones in his only UFC win in 2014, Teixeira has been called a flash in the pan. After missing Phil Davis in his next fight thereafter, his skeptics grew even stronger. His career was declared dead again when Anthony “Rumble” Johnson and Alexander Gustafsson knocked out Teixeira in the span of nine months in 2016 and 2017, and once again when he was beaten down by Corey Anderson in 2018. He’s been counted time and time again, but here we are, in 2021, and he is the undisputed light heavyweight of the UFC champion.
It was such an inspiring performance, so impossible to understand, that it brought commentator Daniel Cormier and Antonio Rogerio Nogueira, both former UFC champions, to get emotional. And surprisingly, Teixeira insists her fairy tale is not over.
In a post-fight interview with UFC’s John Gooden, the ageless Brazilian admitted that burgeoning Czech contender Jiri Prochazka is next for a title shot.
“He’s the No.1 contender,” Teixeira said of the 29-year-old most likely to come up with his first challenge. “Let me take a vacation, let me enjoy this belt a little, then I’ll watch it and study it.”
Beyond Prochazka, Teixeira can look forward to fights with other dangerous – and much younger – contenders like Aleksandar Rakic and Magomed Ankalaev, the latter of whom rose to a seven-fight streak with a victory over Volkan Oezdemir during the UFC 267 main card opening.
Teixeira will almost certainly enter the cage with Prochazka as a significant betting underdog. It will probably be the same if he confronts Rakic or Ankalaev. Still, the 42-year-old champion is determined to continue defying the odds, no matter how insurmountable the challenges ahead seem.
“I’m breaking the rules,” Teixeira said in her post-fight interview with Cormier. “42 years old and I will continue to break these rules.
“I like it. This is my home. I’ve been here before. This is my home. I love it.”
While Teixeira leaves Abu Dhabi with a UFC belt in his suitcase, Blachowicz will return to his native Poland with much lighter luggage.
The former champion was classed in defeat, conceding he couldn’t seem to shake things up in the cage.
“Everything’s wrong with me,” Blachowicz said calmly in his post-fight interview with Cormier. “I think I left the legendary Polish power in the hotel room.”
Despite the loss, Blachowicz is confident he will be back.
“This is not the end of the story,” he said. “This book is not closed. I am not a coward. I am not going anywhere. I will be back for sure.”
Given that the Polish veteran is already 38 years old, his recapture of the UFC light heavyweight title in the future seems like a long way to go. If there’s one lesson to be learned from Teixeira’s UFC 267 title win, of course, it’s that no one can ever be counted in. Mma– even when Father Time leaves – and that’s what makes the sport so beautiful.
“Never give up on your dreams,” Teixeira told Cormier in the Octagon, with the belt wrapped around his waist. “It doesn’t matter people: don’t listen to these negative people. Believe in yourself.”