Glover Teixeira is the second-oldest champion in UFC history, behind only the legendary Randy Couture.
To give a better perspective on the significance of that, the Pittsburgh Pirates won the 1979 World Series 11 days before Teixeira was born on Oct. 28, 1979. The Pirates have basically becoming laughingstocks in MLB and have lost more than 100 games each of the past two seasons.
Teixeira, though, is still as good in his sport as the Pirates were in 1979. On Saturday at Jeunesse Arena in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, in the main event of UFC 283, Teixeira will meet Jamahal Hill for the vacant light heavyweight championship.
If he defeats Hill, he’ll become champion for a second time at 43 years, 2 months, 25 days old. Couture was 44 years, 2 months, 3 days old when he defended the heavyweight title versus Gabriel Gonzaga at UFC 74 on Aug. 25, 2007. Couture didn’t fight for the next 13 months and was 45 years, 4 months, 25 days old when he lost the belt to Brock Lesnar at UFC 91 on Nov. 15, 2008, in Las Vegas.
Given the physical requirements of an MMA athlete, Couture’s feat was mind-boggling and thought to be one of those marks that would never be touched.
Teixeira, though, will be only a year and two months behind Couture if he defeats Hill. It’s a remarkable feat and leaves open the possibility that Teixeira could surpass Couture’s once seemingly invincible record.
The secret, he said, is simple.
“I just have fun, man,” Teixeira said. “I’m just having fun. I just enjoy my life. I don’t know. People ask me that same question a lot, and I don’t know how to answer. I have a love for the sport. I appreciate my life. I have help that allows me to go do what I love to do. I go to work with happiness and gratitude all the time.
“I don’t want to be lazy and sit home and that. I just want to do the best I can and pass that on. I want to motivate people, motivate kids, motivate older fighters. I’m motivating all kinds of people now, so that’s the goal.”
Hill is a scary finisher and is 11-1 with seven knockouts. He’s on a streak of three victories by KO in a row, and his last four wins have all come by KO or TKO.
Teixeira has proven, though, that he can take it. At UFC 275 against Jiri Prochazka, Teixeira seemed to be in trouble numerous times. Prochazka is a terrifying finisher and entered that bout on June 11 in Singapore with a 27-3 record and 25 knockouts. He throws strikes — hard ones — from every angle with each of the limbs on his body.
Prochazka submitted Teixeira in the final minute with a rear naked choke to earn his third win by submission and take the title from Teixeira, but Teixeira managed to absorb all of the strikes and keep fighting.
He had Prochazka on the verge of going out but couldn’t get the job done.
Now, he has to try to do it against Hill to keep alive his dream of regaining the belt, as well as moving closer to the record for oldest fighter to win a UFC title bout.
It’s not going to be fancy, but Teixeira knows how to push through adversity and put pressure on his opponent. He won’t talk a big game too often, but he’ll sure fight one.
“My style is grinding,” Teixeira said. “Keep going, keep pushing the guy, keep pushing him to deep waters and see what he has. I have heavy hands, too. I’m a guy who goes there to put on a show. I want to fight, and I want to perform on the night. I won a lot of Performance of the Night [bonuses], a lot of Fight of the Night [bonuses].
“This is going to be that kind of fight, for sure. I want to put on a good performance. I’m not a guy who goes in and talks a lot and promotes the fight too much [that way]. I don’t like when a guy promotes the fight too much, and they don’t show up in the Octagon. If you try to promote the fight [by talking] and you show up and you bring it, that’s a beautiful thing. That’s not my style. It’s not my character, but at least I bring the fight.”
He has brought the fight repeatedly in a remarkable career that figures to land him in the Hall of Fame. If he wins Saturday and hangs around for another title win or two, he might also put his name in the history books.
That’s never a bad thing.