If Glover Teixeira’s hype were a publicly traded stock, then Jim Cramer would be screaming like a madman to buy it bullishly.
Since making the jump to the bright lights of the UFC, Teixeira has slowly built up a head of steam in the light heavyweight division. And in that time, the Brazilian has gone from a relatively unknown entity to a budding star on the world’s biggest MMA stage.
After Teixeira destroyed Fabio Maldonado in his second bout at UFC 153, it appeared that he was set for a collision course with a potential contender.
In the post-fight press conference, UFC president Dana White told MMA Weekly where Teixeira stood in the division, stating that, “He’s going to have to fight one of the top guys before we start talking about title shots."
In January, Teixeira chalked up a decisive unanimous-decision victory over former light heavyweight champ Quinton “Rampage” Jackson. The fight gave him a win over an opponent with marquee name value, but it would be disingenuous to say that “Rampage” was in top form.
Regardless of this concession, Teixeira’s performance alone should have earned him the opportunity to be paired against a legit Top-10 opponent in his next fight.
Originally, Teixeira was supposed to take on Ryan Bader at UFC 160, but Bader pulled out of the fight with an unspecified injury. Now he is scheduled to tangle with James Te Huna in the third bout of the pay-per-view card.
Te Huna is currently riding a four-fight win streak in the UFC. Most recently, he thumped Ryan Jimmo in a lopsided bout, but that doesn’t put him in the upper echelon of the division.
Okay, so riddle me this, Batman: If Glover Teixeira is the No. 4 light heavyweight in the UFC’s official standings, then why on God’s green Earth is he fighting the unranked Te Huna?
Even if one believes that Teixeira’s placement is over-inflated, this fight still makes no sense for him. What does he achieve if he beats Te Huna? Nothing.
At best, it is a lateral move for Teixeira. On one hand, a victory puts him no closer to getting a crack at the belt. On the other hand, a loss would be devastating to his title hopes, especially given the fact that he’s already 33. This is a no-win situation.
Right now, Teixeira exists in the nebulous world of hype. People are buying into the promise. The Brazilian has shown glimmers of greatness, but it’s impossible to know if it is for real without him fighting a top-level guy. Until that happens, everything else is conjecture.
The UFC needs to stop messing around and give Teixeira an opponent who will put his skills to the test. Then fans will finally see if he has what it takes to be a serious contender in the light heavyweight division.
A matchup with Mauricio “Shogun” Rua would be perfect follow-up for Teixeira after he runs through Te Huna on Saturday.
“Shogun” is already set to take on Antônio Rogério Nogueira at UFC 161 in June. This fight is a rematch of their battle in the 2005 Pride Middleweight Grand Prix quarterfinal.
Teixeira and Rua also already have a “history.” This stems from Rua supposedly stating—according to Dana White in a post-fight UFC on FX interview—that he would prefer to be cut from the UFC than fight Teixeira at UFC on Fox 4. Rua disputed that in an interview with Tatame that was reposted on SB Nation.
According to White, the reason “Shogun” and his managers didn’t accept the fight was because:
[Teixeira’s] not top 10. But then we offered him Brandon Vera and he took it in two seconds – and Vera isn't top 10 either.
Rua ended up defeating Vera via TKO in the fourth round.
Now nearly a year later, the two fighters find themselves in similar positions. Teixeira is riding an 18-fight win streak, while “Shogun” is sporting a record of 3-4 in his last seven bouts; however, they are in the mix at 205.
The fighters would bring similar styles to the Octagon. They are both effective strikers and submission artists with a combined 36 finishes between them. “Shogun” has been involved in some epic wars over his career, and a fight with Teixeira has all the makings of another classic.
A win over "Shogun" would still probably put Teixeira at least one more quality fight away from a title shot, but it would go a long way in proving that he is more than just hype.
And if Teixeira can finish Rua in spectacular fashion, it will be difficult not to consider him a true force to be reckoned with in the light heavyweight division.