With confidence in check, Teixeira eyes title

Glover Teixeira, facing, nearly paid for his false sense of security and overconfidence against Ryan Bader. Josh Hedges/Zuffa LLC/Getty Images

Long before facing Ryan Bader on Sept. 4, landing a UFC light heavyweight title shot was something Glover Teixeira was confident he would achieve.

His confidence, however, didn’t end there. Teixeira went into the Octagon in Belo Horizonte, Brazil, not only expecting to beat Bader, but his next opponent as well. That would of course be the winner between champion Jon Jones and Alexander Gustafsson -- those two will meet Saturday night at UFC 165 in Toronto.

But first things first: He needed to take care of Bader. And as far as Teixeira was concerned, that would be relatively easy. In Teixeira’s mind, Bader posed no threat whatsoever.

After watching countless hours of video on Bader and going through a vigorous training camp, the soon-to-be top-ranked light heavyweight contender concluded a victory was certain. Teixeira will never admit this openly, but the look on his face while walking toward the cage made it clear that he didn’t take Bader the least bit seriously.

Teixeira went into that fight overconfident, especially about the possibility of Bader standing with him. It might not seem like much, but that mindset nearly cost Teixeira the victory and a light heavyweight title shot.

“I was really confident,” Teixeira told ESPN.com. “I was a little concerned about his wrestling, but I was in no way concerned about his hands at all. In my mind, there was no way this guy was going to do anything standing up.

“But that [being hurt by Bader] gave me a wake-up call. Anybody in this game is a difficult fight, and you have to be careful.”

A Bader right hand in the first round stunned Teixeira, and for a brief moment it appeared his hopes of getting that title shot were about to end. But Teixeira quickly recovered and, during an exchange of punches, he delivered a right hook that floored Bader. Teixeira immediately jumped on his defenseless foe and finished him with strikes.

Despite overcoming that momentary scare, the direct result of being overconfident, Teixeira vows it will never happen again. It was a flaw that has since been corrected, and Teixeira is now a better overall fighter.

His confidence remains high; he just makes sure to keep it check. With overconfidence, which might have led to defeat in a title fight, out of the way, Teixeira can turn his full attention to Jones and Gustafsson.

Teixeira is eager and mentally ready to face the winner. He expects it will be Jones and believes the timing is right to dethrone him. But unlike in the days leading to his fight against Bader, Teixeira is already taking a measured approach.

The confidence is still there, and with his win streak now at 20, Teixeira has no reason to start doubting himself. But he isn’t about to take Jones or Gustafsson for granted. He’s smart enough to know that each guy poses a serious threat.

“I went into the [Bader] fight with a guy who I never thought could hurt me with his hands standing up,” Teixeira said. “But the next fight, I am going to be careful with everything. Even if Gustafsson wins this fight, I will have watched everything. I’m going to be prepared for his ground, his wrestling and for his stand-up.

“He is known for his great stand-up, but not so much for his ground. But I will be prepared for everything. This guy can give me a hard time on the ground as well.

Still, Teixeira is picking Jones to defend his title Saturday.

“But I believe that Jones is going to [beat Gustafsson],” Teixeira said. “Jones is a more complete fighter. He’s a better wrestler, has better ground, the stand-up is pretty even, but [Jones] is smart enough to take him down.

“I believe in myself against Jon Jones, but I still have to watch this fight, all of his fights and study everything. But I believe in myself.”

While already familiar with the fighting style of each UFC 165 main event participant, Teixeira isn’t satisfied with his knowledge. He will be seated at cageside Saturday night. Being in close proximity allows Teixeira to absorb the atmosphere that surrounds a UFC light heavyweight title bout; it also offers him a chance to see first-hand the tendencies of Jones and Gustafsson inside the Octagon.

“I’m going to be close; I believe I’m going to get a good seat and I’m going to be watching him from there,” Teixeira said. “And I will get the adrenaline going, fighting for the title, because I know that is the next thing I am going to be doing.

“I will feel the vibe and see how everything is going to be. I’m going to be watching those guys and probably do some interviews, so it’s going to be a good vibe, a good thing for me.”