The plan is set, and the wheels are in motion. Hard-hitting light heavyweight contender Glover Teixeira will land a title shot with a victory Wednesday night at UFC Fight Night 28 at Estadio Jornalista Felipe Drummond in Belo Horizonte, Brazil.
This isn’t a secret. Everyone is aware of the plan -- Teixeira and titleholder Jon Jones (who’s expected to defeat Alexander Gustafsson at UFC 165 on Sept. 21) have been briefed. UFC president Dana White has spoken publicly about the matter.
Ryan Bader also knows of the plan, but doesn’t like it one bit. He is the guy penciled in to be Teixeira’s next victim. Bader, however, does not intend to play along. He has a plan of his own -- to dash Teixeira’s hopes of landing a title fight anytime soon.
“It pisses me off that everyone is overlooking me,” Bader told ESPN.com. “He’s talking about a title shot, other people are talking about a title shot. Fans are saying I don’t have a chance and how good the fight is going to be between [Teixeira] and Jones.
“But he has a tough fight ahead of him on Sept. 4 and I’m looking to spoil all their plans. UFC is saying that he gets the next title shot with an impressive win. A lot of people are going to be upset on Sept. 4. I’m going to come out and take everything away from them.”
A lot of hype has been heaped on Teixeira from the moment he signed with UFC in February 2012. Thus far, in his brief Octagon career, he has met all expectations. He has finished three of his four UFC opponents -- only former 205-pound champion Quinton "Rampage" Jackson has gone the distance with him.
Despite the impressive showings, Bader isn’t fully convinced Teixeira is the fighter folks believe him to be. He’s good, even Bader concedes that much, but title shot-ready? Bader is of the opinion that’s taking things a little too far.
“He’s had his long win streak,” Bader said, referring to Teixeira’s current 19-fight victory run. “But he’s had this long win streak outside the UFC. If you look at his record, who has he fought? If you look at our past six, seven fights and put them side by side, I’ve definitely fought much tougher guys.
“His hype is deserved because he has been winning, he’s undefeated in UFC and all that, but he hasn’t fought the right brand of people. If he fights the right brand of people he’s definitely going to lose, and his night [to face the right brand of opposition] is the night we’re fighting.”
Teixeira isn’t angered by or losing sleep over Bader’s comments. He’s heard these sentiments a lot since word of him being next in line for a title shot surfaced. But the comments have served to fuel his determination to put on a spectacular performance Wednesday night in his native Brazil.
When the main-event showdown is over Teixeira expects not only to be victorious, but to end questions about his legitimacy as the No. 1 light heavyweight contender. Teixeira is on a personal mission: Put Bader to sleep and leave fight fans shocked by the viciousness of the destruction.
“Definitely; I’m going to go out there to knock him out. No doubt,” Teixeira told ESPN.com. “I’m going to pressure him, pressure him the whole time. I’m going to stay in his face and push him back; he’s going to be walking backward the entire fight.
“He’s a very tough opponent. But I’m going to go out there and finish this fight before the fifth round.”
Bader, on the other hand, has a slightly different view of how the fight will play out. His approach is to feed Teixeira a heavy dose of wrestling.
“I definitely want to make this a fight he isn’t used to; he’s not used to being on his back,” Bader said. “He’s a strong aggressive striker, he hits hard, he comes out and tries to be in your face but I definitely look to put him on his back in this fight.”
That fight plan is one more reason Teixeira is confident he will beat Bader. According to Teixeira, Bader has several holes in his game -- though he didn’t offer any specifics.
But Teixeira does point to Bader’s fight plan and shakes his head in disbelief. Have Bader or his trainers closely examined Teixeira’s skill set? Teixeira thinks not, especially if they’ve concluded that wrestling is the key to defeating him.
“Ryan is a good wrestler, but I train with much better wrestlers than Ryan Bader,” Teixeira said. “I’m a good wrestler myself. I’m confident in my wrestling, but there is one thing I don’t care about and that’s being on my back. That will make it more difficult for him because I’m confident in my jiu-jitsu as well.”
Finally, for those who say he isn’t yet deserving of a title shot because there are no top-10 light heavyweights on his UFC ledger, Teixeira offered these thoughts: “I don’t mind it too much. I can’t look at it that way. Ryan is a top-10 fighter. When I fought Rampage he was ranked nine or 10; I don’t know.
“Every fighter in the UFC is dangerous. Hey, I will just keep fighting. And if they keep giving me top-10 guys I will keep fighting and winning.”