Glover Teixeira’s last fight in the UFC lost him the light heavyweight title belt. Now he wants it back.
It’s been eight years since the Brazilian fought on home soil and he’s expecting a raucous Rio crowd at his back when he steps into the octagon against American Jamahal Hill at UFC 283 on Sunday.
The evergreen 43-year-old was due to rematch his title fight conqueror, Jiri Prochazka, in December but the fight was called off and the belt vacated after the Czech withdrew due to a shoulder injury.
In its haste to crown a new champion the UFC turned to Jan Blachowicz and Magomed Ankalaev to fight for the belt but after a disappointing split-decision draw in Las Vegas, the pendulum has swung back to the former champion.
Now, be it luck or fate, Teixeira finally gets his wish. He will fight for the UFC light heavyweight belt on home soil.
“I wanted to fight here (in Rio). I was thinking if I win the belt, win the fight in Singapore (against Prochazka), I was going to ask for the fight to be here — and I did ask — but Jiri didn’t want to come here,” Teixeira told News Corp.
“It means a lot. I’m so happy about it because, while I like to fight everywhere, I haven’t been here for almost eight years to fight, and to be back here and fighting for the belt, to have the opportunity to win the belt in front of a Brazilian crowd … I’m very grateful.”
In October 2021, at UFC 267, Teixeira became the second-oldest UFC champion in history when he defeated Blachowicz in Abu Dhabi.
Sunday’s opponent, Hill, is 12 years his junior and has quickly collated a highlight reel of devastating knockouts — none more impressive than his first round stop on Johnny Walker last February.
But age is merely a number to the Brazilian, who is now into his third decade of MMA and has made a habit of proving doubters wrong over that span.
“I just love to do it, I love to do this, and I’m still quite good,” Teixeira said.
“I’m feeling good, there’s no major injuries and I’m still doing very good in this sport. I lost the last fight (against Prochazka) but I was winning the whole fight until I got caught in the choke so … I am not done.
“Fighting for the belt, to be the best in the world is what motivates me. I’m living the dream, man.”
Hill’s best work is done on his feet and he has quickly established himself as one of the most brutal strikers in the 205lb division.
But when the American was taken to the mat by Paul Craig at UFC 263 it ended badly – his arm dislocated and a first and only UFC loss to his name the result.
“Jamahal – I have great respect for him. He’s a great fighter and this is a great opportunity for me to prove once again I’m the best,” Teixeira said.
“I’m going to grab him and take him down – he has to be worried about being taken down, because those hands can’t get in and get at you (on the floor).
“This one is going to be fun.”
‘Meat for the Lion’: Graphic ending predicted for UFC 283
Glover Teixeira may be one of the most respected and experienced fighters in the UFC but come Sunday he’s “just more meat for the lion” that is American Jamahal Hill.
For two months the UFC light heavyweight belt has remained vacant but at UFC 283 one of Teixeira (33-8) or Hill (11-1) will, hopefully, change that.
After Jiri Prochazka vacated the belt due to a right shoulder injury it went up for grabs at UFC 282 in December only to remain unclaimed, following a disappointing split-decision draw between Jan Blachowicz and Magomed Ankalaev.
That didn’t suit the UFC and so the call for Hill to fight former light heavyweight champion Teixeira came swiftly.
He was sitting on the couch watching the fallout of the split-decision unfold when the call from his manager came.
Six weeks to be prepped for a title fight against a former champion of the division. No problem.
“I’m just happy to get after it sooner,” Hill said.
“I’ve had to work harder, because I thought I had more time … then bam, six weeks to prepare for a title fight, so now I just have to get after it.
“Compared to what I’ve dealt with my entire career (I don’t mind). I’m ready to go.”
The 31-year-old was due to fight Anthony Smith in March — instead he’s in Teixeira’s backyard of Rio de Janeiro readying to prove to the world that ‘Sweet Dreams’ really is the best in the division, just seven fights into his UFC career.
“When I win that belt it means I was right, it means I’m the best in the world,” Hill told News Corp.
“I’ve felt like I’ve been that for a long time and I’ve set out to prove that and (Sunday’s fight) is about proving myself right.”
Fighters are used to taking their talents around the world but Hill had never left the US before landing in Rio this week.
His opponent, a 43-year-old veteran of the UFC and former light heavyweight champion as recently as June last year, boasts a 12-1 winning record in Brazil.
But Hill has gone from strength to strength since his TKO defeat to Paul Craig at UFC 263, winning his past three fights — two by KO — to earn his place in the ring opposite Teixeira.
But his respect for the Brazilian only extends so far.
“He’s a legend, a real legend. He’s one of the best in the world and one of the best to ever do it and I’ve got nothing but respect and admiration for him,” Hill said of his opponent.
“But man, when we rock into that cage all of that means nothing because to me, he’s just more meat for the lion.”
The UFC283 Main Card begins Sunday, 2pm AEDT.
Originally published as UFC 283: All the latest news for the Glover Teixeira v Jamahal Hill light heavyweight belt bout