This weekend’s main event will see two feel-good stories come together. 205-pound champion Jan Blachowicz has already had his incredible resurgence topped with title glory. With defeats to Jimi Manuwa, Corey Anderson, Alexander Gustafsson, and Patrick Cummins, the Pole sat with four losses out of his previous five fights in 2017. With his place in the UFC on the line, Blachowicz won nine of his next 10, defeated Dominick Reyes to become champion, and became the first blemish on the record of Israel Adesanya earlier this year.
The champion can certainly relate to his upcoming challenger. In 2018, Teixeira had his third setback in just five fights. Having previously failed to capture gold against Jon Jones in 2014, not many expected the Brazilian to mount another title charge, especially given his form and age.
Proving everyone wrong, Teixeira has built a five-fight win streak that includes victories over Anthony Smith and Thiago Santos. At the age of 42, he’ll compete for gold in Abu Dhabi, hoping to become the second post-40 champion in UFC history.
For Teixeira, The Belt Will Be The Cherry, Not The Cake
Whilst the prospect of having gold wrapped around his waist inside the Etihad Arena is certainly an enticing one, it’s not the be-all and end-all for Teixeira.
At UFC 267 media day, the #1-ranked light heavyweight was asked if falling short of the division’s mountaintop on Saturday would mean his remarkable comeback story and win streak was for nothing. In response, Teixeira suggested he doesn’t need a belt to tell him he’s a champion.
“Man, it’s been a lot of sweat, blood, and tears to get here. No, it don’t matter, man. You know, I wanted to be a champion. I’m going to be a champion. That’s it. The mindset that I have now, I feel like I’m already champion. People treat me like a champion. I’ve been treated like a champion over here. And it’s amazing. I feel pretty confident about it.
“But no, that doesn’t take away what I’ve done, man. That doesn’t take away what I’ve done. I’m going over there; I’m going to do my best; and whatever happens happens. I’m still gonna live my life. I have an amazing life. At the end of the day, it’s a belt. It’s something that, eventually, we’re all gonna lose it. We’re all gonna not be a champion anymore. Everybody’s gonna forget about it. You can’t identify yourself with that. We’re something beyond that. So no, not at all.”
Whether he hears “and new” or “and still” at UFC 267, it’s clear Teixeira’s head will be held high. Given his run for the title, he’ll always be known as one of the sport’s greatest late bloomers.
Who do you think will have their hand raised at UFC 267, Glover Teixeira or Jan Blachowicz?