Glover Teixeira just shook up the world

When I was making my pre-fight video on UFC 267’s clash for the light-heavyweight title - I definitely leaned into the Glover Teixeira angle a bit more than I focused on the champ Jan Blachowicz.

And knowing what went down on Saturday night - I’m almost glad that I did - because a lot of the time, mulling over these matchups and putting them into videos frames the narrative I have in my own head going in.

I picked Jan to get the job done, but because of the Glover-heavy angle of last week’s video, the stakes were made perfectly clear to me when these two guys were making their respective walks.

And if we’re gonna get straight into what went down - what a shocking turn of events, both in terms of the performance and how the fight played out - but also in the career of Teixeira as a whole.

On the night, Glover, like he has done to such a noticeable degree on this most recent stretch of his career - played to his strengths - making yet another statement about his ability to adapt his game to the advancement of his age.

This wasn’t a 42 year old fighter winning with the formula utilised by his younger self.

This was a showcase on how to age gracefully within the octagon.

In that first round, he scored the early takedown - preferring position over any major risktaking - sapping at the energy of Jan before some fairly interesting striking exchanges in the second gave way to both a huge shot landed by Glover and a very questionable kimura attempt from Jan.

As soon as Teixeira was able to lock up the submission - the tap came quickly - and all of a sudden, the sport of mixed martial arts played host to one of the most unlikely success stories imaginable.

Teixiera became the oldest man to ever win UFC gold for the first time - Randy Couture obviously won his final belt later in his run, but had already done so on several occasions beforehand.

And I think that stat tells you everything you need to know about how ridiculous a feat this was.

Glover did not enter the UFC as some spring chicken, he did so after years of VISA issues at the age of 33, with nineteen career fights under his belt.

Sure it’s not ancient for a 205lb-r by any means, but when you consider that his first title shot came to him at the age of 34, and that defeat to Jon Jones was followed by wins and losses traded before a pair of brutal knockout defeats at the hands of Alexander Gustafsson and Anthony Rumble Johnson when Glover was in and around 36 and 37 - it’s easy to see where the vast majority of people started to write him off.

And when I say ‘vast majority’, I mean virtually everyone.

At the point where he suffered his most recent loss - a decision at the hands of Corey Anderson - Glover was 38 - turning 39 a few months later.

He was 2 and 3 in his last five - with that pair of vicious finishes making many doubt his ability to both take a shot, and sustain the type of form necessary to make another run.

As an onlooker, looking at that, you’d be called crazy for thinking that he could find a way to battle through it - I don’t even think that’s a controversial stance to take.

Things were not looking good, the deck was well and truly stacked against him - especially when you consider that he was fighting at 205lbs - where a deteriorating chin, and the division’s minor margin for error were at play.

Sure, he’d had an excellent run as a professional - but as 2018 winded down - this veteran was likely forced to have a very honest conversation with himself and his team - and no matter what Glover himself felt or believed, I’m certain that it was hard sell to those who thought they knew better.

We’ve seen this movie on countless occasions.

And like I said in the last video - 99% of the time, hell, 99.9% of the time, successfully recovering from a dip like this would have been too hard of a mountain to climb.

That’s not me being pessimistic, that’s just how the fight game works - and when your body and mind is on the line - sometimes you need some tough love from those around you so you don’t endanger your long-term health.

And with all of this in mind, I’d love to know the exact moment that everyone around Glover started to believe again - how that thought first manifested.

Maybe after he started to pick up form, started to find finish after finish - beating an increasing level of competition - despite being the underdog who was seemingly on the decline.

At what point did his friends, his family, his fans, start to really understand what they were witnessing - because make no mistake - and I cannot stress this enough - seeing Glover Teixeira at the age of 42, riding a six fight win streak with five finishes - hoisting UFC gold over his shoulder is completely and totally freakish.

I’d imagine that some of his biggest supporters were still carrying some doubt - even as he won that first round, hell, even as he took Blachowicz’s back.

This was not like anything we’ve ever seen folks - and I think that, in being only human, the natural response - knowing what we know - would be to write this entire career resurgence off ahead of every new mountain to climb.

But if Saturday night taught us anything, it’s that Teixeira never once gave up on himself.

And that alone is not the only thing that matters - because fighters who believe wholeheartedly in their greatness lose all the time.

But Glover had the self-awareness to change his style - to accept the limitations of his advancing age - while not allowing it to be the type of hindrance that, realistically, it should have been in every one of his last six fights.

Ladies and gentlemen, when you actually stop and think about it - this entire saga has been so shocking to behold.

And as a fan of the type of inspirational stories that can only be found under the highest stakes imaginable - Glover’s late rise to UFC gold will forever be remembered as an outlier to what we think we know about the rhythms and natural movements of the fight game.

UFC 267 was one hell of an event, and I look forward to covering some of its standout moments over the next week - but even with that in mind, Glover Teixeira did something on that night that was an entirely different type of special.