One day, Glover Teixeira will cease to be one of the world's best light heavyweight MMA fighters. That day was not Wednesday.
Eighteen years after his pro debut, Teixeira proved his caliber yet again in the main event of UFC Jacksonville, beating Anthony Smith via TKO at 1 minute, 4 seconds of the fifth round. Teixeira, at 40 years old and six years after his most recent title shot, has won four straight fights.
"It's not how hard you hit," Teixeira told Daniel Cormier in the postfight interview. "It's how hard you get hit and keep coming forward."
Teixeira laid plenty of hard hits on Smith, who was transported to a hospital and told ESPN's Ariel Helwani afterward that he suffered a broken nose and a broken orbital bone and had two of his teeth knocked out, including one of his front teeth.
The card took place at an empty VyStar Veterans Memorial Arena in Jacksonville, Florida. It was the second UFC event in four days, following UFC 249 on Saturday at the same venue. The promotion caps its busy eight-day stretch with another show from VyStar on Saturday. Before last weekend, UFC had not run an event since March 14 due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Smith vs. Teixeira was supposed to headline a UFC card on April 25 in Lincoln, Nebraska, before the schedule was reshuffled.
Coming in, Smith was ESPN's No. 5-ranked MMA light heavyweight fighter, and Teixeira was No. 9. Both are former title contenders in the weight class, having fallen to legendary champion Jon Jones.
Smith had a strong first two rounds Wednesday, using a very good jab and right hand, which found its home over and over. Teixeira's left eye began to swell.
But in the third, Teixeira turned the tide. He landed a big combination with a head kick against the cage and a monstrous uppercut seconds later. A Teixeira uppercut put Smith down. The bout could have been stopped there, but referee Jason Herzog let it continue and Smith survived the rest of the round.
"The guy hits like a truck, man," Teixeira said. "But I move my head a lot."
The fourth and fifth rounds were much of the same, with Teixeira punishing Smith with hard punching combinations on the feet as well as ground-and-pound. Smith was a bloody mess in the fourth, and he told his corner before the fifth that he felt his teeth coming out.
Afterward, Smith told Helwani that he couldn't keep his mouthpiece in place in Round 4 because of his missing tooth. With about 3:30 left in the fourth, Smith said he spotted the tooth on the canvas and picked it up before handing it to Herzog.
Smith's head coach, Marc Montoya, was asked afterward why he didn't stop the fight before the final round, especially after Smith made the remark about his teeth. Montoya said he thought Smith wasn't talking about his actual teeth but his veneers.
Should Smith's coaches have protected him?
Daniel Cormier breaks down Glover Teixeira's dominant win over Anthony Smith in the main event of UFC Fight Night Jacksonville.
"This has happened in practice. He'll be grappling and his veneers will come out," Montoya said of Smith. "So to us, that's why we aren't reacting as strong to that.
"He's a veteran, and he was still fighting. He's still got an opportunity to win a fight. They spent a lot of time on the ground in the fourth round. He was still defending himself and still trying to win. Guys have been hurt all the time and come out and won a fight."
Smith told Helwani he had no problem with his corner allowing the fight to continue.
"I'm good with the decisions the referee and my corner made," Smith said. "When the ref made it clear he needed to see something or he was gonna stop it, I did what I had to do to stay in the fight. I come out of battle with my shield or I come out on it. That's my rule. Period."
Teixeira got Smith down in the fifth, slipped into mount and rained down huge punches until Herzog stopped the fight.
It was only the second fifth-round TKO in UFC light heavyweight history. The other featured Alexander Gustafsson stopping Teixeira in the final round of their 2017 bout.
After being outlanded in significant strikes 73-44 in the first two rounds, Teixeira had a 94-13 edge the rest of the way. All three judges scored the third and fourth rounds 10-8 for Teixeira and had Teixeira up 39-35 heading into the final round.
Teixeira said he has taken inspiration from Cormier and middleweight contender Yoel Romero, two men over 40 who remain elite fighters. Teixeira said he recently has been using the UFC Performance Institute in Las Vegas for recovery and is training smarter, not harder.
"You've gotta open your mind," said Teixeira, who joins UFC Hall of Famer Dan Severn as the only fighters in UFC history with four-fight winning streaks after turning 39, according to ESPN Stats & Information. "You've gotta look for help when things are going wrong. That's what I did, baby. And I'm on another run toward the title."
Smith had a difficult training camp. On April 5, a stranger entered his home in the middle of the night, and Smith engaged him in a brawl. Smith called it "one of the toughest fights" of his life. He was uninjured, but the man, Luke Haberman, was hospitalized and cited for the intrusion. Smith lives with his wife, his mother-in-law and his three daughters in Omaha, Nebraska.
Teixeira (31-7), the longtime training partner of Chuck Liddell, passed his former teammate and Rashad Evans to move into third place on the UFC light heavyweight wins list (14). Teixeira, a native of Brazil who lives and trains in Connecticut, is now tops in UFC light heavyweight history with 11 finishes.
Smith (32-15) was coming off a win over fellow former title contender Gustafsson in June 2019. The Nebraska native is 1-1 since his loss to Jones at UFC 235 in March 2019. Smith, 31, closed as a -210 favorite on Wednesday.