Teixeira challenges Błachowicz at UFC 267

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Few people celebrate their 42nd birthday by making their final preparations for a UFC title fight.

Glover Teixeira had the honor on Thursday, and the Brazilian mixed martial arts veteran is marking the course thinking about the obstacles he overcame to get to the brink of an unlikely championship.

“I’m a fan of the sport too, and I love when people get over situations and break the rules by doing something that few people have done,” said Teixeira. “If I win this title now, who did it before?” Only one guy in the UFC: Randy Couture. It’s a tough thing to do, and I’m happy to be here and I’m going to have it on Saturday night.

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

Teixeira will be the oldest UFC champion for the first time if he can upset Błachowicz, not a fresh-faced child himself at 38. Couture was 43 when he claimed the UFC heavyweight title in 2007, but the famous MMA pioneer didn’t face the same. obstacles like Teixeira to reach this point.

As he prepared to take on the hard-hitting and well-balanced Błachowicz in recent weeks, Teixeira also spoke at length for the first time about his journey as a teenage illegal immigrant who found his way to the gyms in Connecticut where he fell in love. of sport and made it a lifelong work of it.

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

“Lately, a lot of people are saying, ‘We have to get this belt, make this movie! “” said Teixeira.

UFC 267 is the first numbered UFC event not to be broadcast on pay-per-view in the United States in a decade, despite still being on ESPN +. The show takes place in the Middle East in the evening, making it an afternoon event in Europe and a morning show for North American viewers.

Former bantamweight champion Petr Yan faces Cory Sandhagen in the co-main event for a curious interim title belt created by the UFC because champion Aljamain Sterling wasn’t quite ready to return from surgery in the neck. Rising lightweight star Islam Makhachev also fights Dan Hooker, and undefeated welterweight Khamzat Chimaev returns for his first fight of 2021 against Li Jingliang.

But many viewers around the world will tune in for the main event – the second longest-running combined championship fight in UFC history.

Teixeira secured his first UFC title in April 2014 when he earned a 20-game cage winning streak against Jon Jones, the most dominant and least focused light heavyweight in UFC history. Jones won a comfortable decision and Teixeira entered a 5-5 streak in which his best days seemed to be behind him.

But Teixeira refocused her life and training with the help of resources from the UFC Performance Institute in Las Vegas. He has since won five consecutive fights to win another title.

Teixeira attributes her momentum to “her passion for this sport. Lately, more discipline on this. More focus on what I need to do to become a champion. Of course, it didn’t work before, so I was doing something wrong. … I had to trust my coaches and put my discipline on and say, ‘How much do I want this?’ “

Błachowicz appears to be in control of the 205-pound division after his impressive victory last March over Israel Adesanya, whose attempt to move from middleweight to become a two-division champion seemed silly when the imposing and robust Polish champion dominated him by decision.

Błachowicz is making his second defense of the title he won by eliminating Dominick Reyes last year. While many MMA watchers favored Reyes in this fight, Teixeira said he chose Błachowicz because he respects the work ethic and tenacity of his veteran colleague.

These light heavyweights have obvious mutual respect, but Błachowicz is confident he will stop Teixeira on the verge of his goal again.

“He is longer than I am in this sport, so we are friends,” said Błachowicz. “No disagreement between us. But that doesn’t change anything. When we get inside the octagon, the fight will start, and I have to knock him out, and I will.

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