Well, it finally happened. The UFC has officially artificially created a title contender in light heavyweight Glover Teixeira.
Don't get me wrong. Glover Teixeira is a legitimate talent. He started his combat sports career as part of the Brazilian national wrestling team, turned that into what can only be regarded as the best Brazilian jiu-jitsu in the light heavyweight division and developed some scarily potent fists.
That said, every achievement, every past win, every stuffed takedown, every stiff jab...everything, no matter how small, was pointed to as a sign that this 32 year-old whose biggest win came over journeyman Rameau Thierry Sokoudjou wasn't just the next big thing. He was the big thing right now.
That isn't to say he is worse than what they make him out to be. He's also by no means the only fighter to get this sort of treatment. Featherweight Conor McGregor is a perfect example of a fighter whom fans have confused for somebody with already-established greatness due to nonstop praise from Dana White based on, of all things, his drawing power.
What makes Teixeira a unique case is how blatant the UFC's push was. Teixeira made his UFC debut at UFC 146, beating Kyle Kingsbury—who was still reeling from a loss to Stephan Bonnar—by knockout on Facebook. The UFC, inexplicably, felt that was good enough to slot him into the co-main event of UFC 153 against Quinton “Rampage” Jackson.
Think about that. Ricardo Lamas, after beating Cub Swanson, fought Hatsu Hioki on the preliminary card for UFC on FX: Maynard vs. Guida. Junior dos Santos, after knocking out Fabricio Werdum, fought on the undercard for UFC 95. Travis Browne, with a 3-0-1 record that included his superman punch of Stefan Struve, fought on the undercard of UFC 145.
Glover Teixeira, though, was being put on posters after beating Kyle Kingsbury. Teixeira, to put it bluntly, didn't deserve that, and any time a fighter ends up being given that kind of a lift, somebody else gets held down.
When it comes to a title shot, though, the phrase “deserve” goes directly, irrevocably, out the window.
One could make the case that Antonio Rogerio Nogueira, a 12-year veteran of the sport with wins over Alistair Overeem, Kazushi Sakuraba, Dan Henderson and, most recently, Rashad Evans, “deserves” a title shot, given his numerous accomplishments in the sport.
One could argue that Phil Davis “deserves” a title shot, given his victories over former WEC light heavyweight champion Brian Stann, current light heavyweight top contender Alexander Gustafsson, other “deserving” contender Antonio Rogerio Nogueira and former champion Lyoto Machida.
One could argue that Daniel Cormier “deserves” a title shot, given his accomplishments at heavyweight and the fact that he is the most likely to take the belt from Jon Jones.
Glover Teixeira simply doesn't deserve a title shot. But the thing is, he has done more than anyone else right now to earn it.
For all of the complaining about hype and for all of the questions that linger about how well his style will hold up against Jon Jones, he still has five big wins on the table right now. The only person who can say the same is current top contender Alexander Gustafsson and Teixeira, frankly, has faced stiffer competition.
Such is the fickle nature of UFC matchmaking, though. While Teixeira will still open a massive underdog, he is still likely to get that title fight.
Whether or not he deserves it doesn't really matter.
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