For the last year, the light heavyweight division has been buzzing about Chuck Liddell prodigy Glover Teixeira and what he could do in the UFC's 205-pound weight class.
Through his first few fights, Teixeira has been virtually flawless, finishing three opponents within the distance and putting a beatdown on former light heavyweight champion Quinton "Rampage" Jackson in his only decision.
On Wednesday night in Brazil, Teixeira faced his stiffest test to date in former Ultimate Fighter winner Ryan Bader.
Over the last few years, Bader has bounced in and out of the top-10 rankings in the division, but he's faced a murderers' row of talent and has held his own with almost everybody he's been in the cage against.
Teixeira came out right away and took the center of the Octagon, something his aggressive style lends him to do, and he was ready to begin exchanging punches with Bader right away. The only problem was Bader was prepared for that attack and fired back with some shots of his own, at one point stunning the Brazilian fighter before transitioning for a guillotine choke.
The grip slipped loose, and it was Teixeira who ended up taking the former All-American wrestler to the mat, but it was only a moment before both fighters were back on their feet.
It was there that Bader slipped through another punch that stunned Teixeira, and as the former Arizona State wrestler smelled blood, he started firing off a series of overhand rights trying to get through his opponent's defenses. The swarm of punches unfortunately left Bader's own head open, and Teixeira quickly launched a right hand that clipped his jaw, followed by a left hand that smashed him in the face.
Bader crashed to the canvas and could only cover up as Teixeira unleashed a barrage of punches to get the victory in the first round.
Prior to the fight, Teixeira was being touted as the next potential contender to the UFC light heavyweight title with an impressive win, but did he do enough in his fight against Bader to earn that distinction?
Let's take a look at what we learned in the fight between Glover Teixeira and Ryan Bader.
Glover Teixeira Realizes He Was Buying into His Own Hype
Heading into Wednesday night's fight card, all anybody could talk about was Teixeira's phenomenal 19-fight win streak and undefeated run through the UFC thus far in his career. The only problem was Teixeira—as impressive as he's been—hasn't faced a single top-10 fighter yet, and hype can be a funny thing when it starts leaking into a fighter's brain after having it drilled into them for months on end.
Teixeira almost became a victim of his own self-confidence when he thought he could just go out and roll through Bader like he has past opponents like Fabio Maldonado and Kyle Kingsbury. The mistake almost cost Teixeira the win, but after the fight, he was the first one to admit being dropped in the first round by a punch humbled him back to reality.
"I think one of my problems is I just had too much self-confidence," Teixeira said. "This is a good wake up call."
Teixeira knowing that he was getting a little too cocky is a good thing as he marches forward toward a potential title shot.
Don't Count Out Ryan Bader Just Yet
Listen, after this fight, all of the critics are going to say that Ryan Bader is a solid fighter but not top-10 level because he has lost to almost all of the ranked competitors he's faced in his career. Those facts aren't necessarily untrue, but it's hard to judge that he won't bounce back from this fight even better than before.
Bader was swarming on Teixeira and showed confidence in his hands after some early exchanges with the Brazilian on the feet. He dropped Teixeira early and went for a guillotine choke but slipped off before he had the right position. Bader then came back and almost got the finish before getting dropped himself.
At 30 years of age, Bader isn't the young guy trying to make his way in the UFC coming off The Ultimate Fighter anymore, so expectations are obviously higher, and that's justified. But don't write him off yet as just another gatekeeper who can't beat the best guys in the division. The book isn't written yet on Bader's career, and if he can make a few adjustments, he still has a chance to be a solid top-10 fighter for years to come.
Glover Teixeira Says He's Ready for a Title Shot, but He's Not There Yet
The word from the UFC before this fight was that if Teixeira looked impressive, he would be the next man to challenge for the light heavyweight title against either Jon Jones or Alexander Gustafsson. Following the win, Teixeira proclaimed that no matter who was the victor at UFC 165, he would be taking the belt from him.
"I'm telling you this belt is going to be mine," Teixeira said. "It doesn't matter if it's Jon Jones or (Alexander) Gustafsson, it's mine."
Now, on paper, a first-round knockout over Bader should be the kind of impressive performance that Teixeira needed to secure that title shot, correct?
Teixeira is a phenomenally talented fighter and could develop into the kind of competitor that could give Jones or Gustafsson problems, but his tendency to get hit and be involved in wild exchanges during a fight still hampers his overall performances. He showed those tendencies a few fights ago with Fabio Maldonado, and he did it again Wednesday night against Bader.
The fact that Teixeira realizes his own self-confidence was riding too high is a good thing, and taking a punch to the mush that knocks you on your butt is a great wake-up call, but it's also proof that he's not quite ready for the title.
Teixeira needs to face at least one proven top-10 fighter before getting to the title, and a perfect matchup would be former NCAA champion Phil Davis—who happens to be fresh off a win over Teixeira's good friend and teammate, Lyoto Machida.
If Teixeira can do to Davis what he did to Bader, even if it's not a flawless performance, then he can be proclaimed as the true No. 1 contender. Until then, it's just too soon.
Damon Martin is a Featured Columnist for Bleacher Report, and all quotes were obtained firsthand unless otherwise noted.
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