Glover Teixeira came to the UFC with intentions of becoming a champion, and it looks like that opportunity is about to come into focus.
With his knockout victory over Ryan Bader last week at Fight Night 28, the heavy-handed Brazilian earned his fifth consecutive win inside the Octagon, and showed UFC President all he needed to see to make a clear-cut case for title contention.
At the post-fight press conference in Belo Horizonte, UFC executive Marshall Zelaznik confirmed to the media in attendance that White had solidified Teixeira's position as the next in line. Now, with a title shot within in his grasp, the 33-year-old John Hackleman-trained fighter will turn his focus to the upcoming showdown between Jon Jones and Alexander Gustafsson next weekend at UFC 165 in Toronto.
The pound-for-pound great and the rangy Swedish fighter will mix it up inside the Octagon to determine the fate of the light heavyweight strap, and Teixeira will be paying close attention to how the action goes down at the Air Canada Centre next Saturday night.
For the Chuck Liddell protege, it doesn't matter who emerges victorious at UFC 165, he simply wants a crack at the light heavyweight gold. That being said, it wouldn't hurt his feelings if Jones kept his title intact, because he believes the 26-year-old phenom is the matchup he's been searching for.
"I'm just excited to get a shot at the title," Teixeira told Bleacher Report. "I doesn't matter who wins, but if Jon Jones wins, it would be a better fight for me. There would be more hype and Jon Jones has been at the top for a long time. It would great to take the belt away from him."
While his most recent bout with Bader lasted less than one round, both fighters exchange heavy bombs. The Power MMA product appeared to have Teixeira wobbled and rushed in for the kill, but the Brazilian knockout artist beat him to the punch and dropped the TUF winner to the canvas.
In the post-fight interview with Jon Anik, Teixeira was disappointed with his performance. Despite scoring an impressive first-round knockout, being stunned by Bader drew further criticism to his chin, a point which has been debated since he was rocked by Fabio Maldonado at UFC 153 last October.
Nevertheless, Teixeira has rock-solid belief in his chin and believes what he dishes out is far worse than what is coming at him.
"I got hit in the Quinton Jackson fight too, and I'm confident I can take a punch," he said. "No one is going to take that confidence away from me. I know anyone can go down with the right shot at the right place. It goes my way too. If I hit someone with 60 percent of my power, they're going down.
"I made some mistakes in that [Bader] fight. I waited a little bit too much. I'm a guy who likes to come forward, move my head, and use my footwork, but I waited too much in that fight. There are little things in my game that I have to fix and that is what I was disappointed with. But you have to learn with the victory every time as well."
With his fifth consecutive victory in the UFC and his 20th overall in the books, Teixeira is now ready to fight for the light heavyweight strap. While there was title hovering as soon as he earned his first win inside the Octagon, The Pit veteran chose to keep his head down and continue to climb the ladder.
Now, as he is almost to the top of the mountain, Teixeira has one final step to take, and he has every intention of making it the defining moment of his career.
"I didn't want to be the guy who comes into the UFC, wins one fight, and gets a title shot," Teixeira said. "I definitely thought I needed a few more fights. I beat a couple big names like Quinton Jackson and Ryan Bader, a tough opponent like James Te Huna. Now, I feel I'm ready and have earned that title shot.
"I have confidence and my mission is to get that belt. I don't really worry about winning streaks. I want to keep that going, but my dream is to take that belt. I don't worry about how many fights I've had before it, I just want to get in there for the title shot. I'll prepare for five rounds and take that belt away from whoever wins [at UFC 165]."
Duane Finley is a featured columnist for Bleacher Report. All quotes are obtained firsthand unless noted otherwise.
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