Thursday, January 27, 2022

One for the Seniors: Teixeira Challenges Blachovic At UFC 267

Not many people are celebrating their 42nd birthday with final preparations for their UFC title fight.

Glover Teixeira received the honor on Thursday, and the Brazilian mixed martial arts veteran marks a landmark milestone by reflecting on the obstacles he has overcome to be on the brink of an incredible championship.

“I’m also a fan of the sport and I love it when people get over situations and break the rules by doing what not many people have done,” Teixeira said. “If I win this title right now, who did it before? There is only one guy in the UFC: Randy Couture. It’s hard to do and I’m glad I’m here and I’m going to get it on Saturday night. “

A remarkable career that began in 2002 and seemed to be on the wane just four years ago, peaked again on Saturday at the Etihad Arena in Abu Dhabi, where Teixeira (32-7) will face Ian Blahovic (28-8) for the light. heavyweight belt at UFC 267.

Teixeira will become the oldest UFC champion for the first time if he can upset Blahovic, who himself was not a fresh face at 38. Couture was 43 when he reclaimed the UFC heavyweight title in 2007, but the famed MMA pioneer faced another. obstacles like Teixeira to reach this point.

Preparing to face the powerful, versatile Blachovich in recent weeks, Teixeira also detailed for the first time about his journey as an illegal teenage immigrant who ended up in Connecticut gyms, where he fell in love with sports and made it his life’s work.

Opening up, Teixeira said he felt the love of MMA fans who may not have paid attention to him early in his career.

“Lately, a lot of people have been saying, ‘Get this belt, shoot this movie! “- said Teixeira.

UFC 267 is the first numbered UFC non-pay-per-view event in the US in ten years, although it is still on ESPN +. The show takes place in the Middle East in the evening, making it an afternoon event in Europe and a morning performance for North American audiences.

Former lightweight champion Peter Jan is fighting Corey Sandhagen in a co-main event for a curious interim title belt created by the UFC because champion Aljamein Sterling was not fully prepared to return from neck surgery. Rising lightweight star Islam Makhachev is also fighting Dan Hooker, while undefeated welterweight Khamzat Chimayev returns for his first fight in 2021 against Li Jingliang.

But many viewers around the world will be tuned into the main event – the second-oldest combined title fight in UFC history.

Teixeira got his first UFC title shot in April 2014 when he had a 20-win streak in a cage against John Jones, the most dominant and least focused light heavyweight in UFC history. Jones won with a comfortable decision and Teixeira went 5-5, where his best days appear to be behind him.

But Teixeira refocused his life and training with the resources of the UFC Performance Institute in Las Vegas. Since then, he has won five straight fights to earn another title shot.

Teixeira explains her surge with “a passion for the sport.” There has been more discipline in this regard lately. Focus more on what I need to do to become a champion. Of course, this did not work before, which means I was doing something wrong. … I had to trust my coaches, show discipline and say: “How badly do I want this?” “

Blakhovich appears to be in control of the 205-pound division after his impressive win last March over Israel Adesanya, whose attempt to move out of middleweight and become a two-weight champion looked silly when the hulking and sturdy Polish champion dominated him by decision.

Blachovic makes his second defense of a title he won by knocking out Dominic Reyes last year. While many MMA observers favored Reyes in that fight, Teixeira said he chose Blachovic because he respected his veteran counterpart’s work ethic and resilience.

The light heavyweights have a clear mutual respect, but Blakhovic is confident that he will stop Teixeira again on the brink of his goal.

“He is longer in this sport than me, so we are friends,” Blakhovich said. “There is no bad blood between us. But it does not change anything. When we enter the octagon, there will be a fight, and I have to knock him out, and I will. “

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