Glover Teixeira's quest to the UFC light heavyweight championship has taken on a predatory tone.
That's why the 33-year-old Brazilian will pay a visit to Toronto the night of Sept. 21.
Since debuting in the UFC a year ago in May 2012, Teixeira has rolled through five opponents while handing down a quartet of finishes. The latest came Wednesday with an opening round stoppage of Ryan Bader in Brazil -- impressive enough indeed for UFC to confirm Teixeira gets next after Alexander Gustafsson tries Jon Jones in Canada.
As UFC ascensions go, a more threatening contender could not have been produced. Teixeira always was a brute. He’s unbeaten since 2005; including his UFC venture that’s 20 consecutive victories. Living up to that reputation has helped induce an air of intimidation when he’s around the Octagon.
To this end, Teixeira’s title-focused journey is instructive and predictive. The guy embodies dangerousness. Let there be no doubt about that. So we should expect him to do as he’s done. This is why fight watchers won't stretch their imaginations much to envision Teixeira beating, perhaps stopping, Jones or his lanky Swedish challenger.
"To tell you the truth I don't have any preference; my dream is to get the belt," Teixeira said through a translator after stopping Bader. "But I believe Jon Jones will win, that's the way I see it, and I definitely prefer him as well in a certain manner because Jon Jones has a better name, he's been a champ for a long time, so whoever goes to face him has to be very focused, very well-trained, and to look at his game to make him disappear.”
Disappear. Like Bader on the end of Teixeira’s fists, which thud with a concussive, uplifting and motivating quality.
“I believe I have it and if I hit [Jones],” Teixeira said of his power, “he's going to go down."
Like Teixeira's mentor Chuck Liddell, the emerging light heavyweight possesses trainer John Hackleman’s bravado and left hook (both were useful in starching Bader). He's gifted with being an agile powerhouse. Thick and strong, Teixeira is put together like a bruising light heavyweight. He isn’t especially fast. If there's a knock against him, there you have it. Faced with greased lightning like "Bones" Jones, Teixeira could wind up looking silly. Then again, when a masher walks into a cage willing and able to give one to get one, speed can be fleeting and overrated.
Bader was faster than Teixeira, but Teixeira didn't care because he wanted a knockout. He waited for a knockout. He waited for Bader “to punch me so I could punch him.” He did.
"That's one thing he brings to the table against Jon Jones is the ability to put him away,” Bader said of Teixeira. “Props to him. He had a great fight. Definitely feel he has a great chance of getting the title."
Despite Bader’s endorsement, Teixeira wasn't totally pleased with his effort. He thought he was hit too much (he was) while waiting to counterattack.
“I was very close to him. That's where he got me,” Teixeira said. “I remember we always have to move and we always have to be the first. I have to do my strategy, which is always to move my head around and to go forward. And to make punches connect.
"As they say in English, 'Hit and don't get hit.'"
For what it's worth, Jones must have thought enough about Teixeira's effort to comment. The champion said on Twitter that he didn't mind if people thought he’d lose, he simply wanted to hear a logical argument how. Teixeira, wrote Jones, regurgitated memories of Quinton "Rampage" Jackson "just with better grappling." That would be a quick and sloppy assessment.
When Jones or Gustafsson take a closer look at Teixeira they’ll find a heavy-handed, persistent striker, a stalker with enough accuracy and explosion to instantly change a fight. They’ll see a guy who downed Bader while standing with his feet parallel to the cage -- hardly an ideal power-producing scenario. They’ll see someone competent to initiate and defend grappling exchanges. They’ll see a man unafraid of submission attempts.
They’ll see him in Toronto, watching, like the predator he appears to be.