LAS VEGAS — At 41 years old and more than six years after his first shot at a world championship, Glover Teixeira is suddenly looking like perhaps the most dangerous man in the UFC’s light heavyweight division.
Nearly stopped at the start of the fight and then again early in the third round, Teixeira showed the wisdom of his many years in the cage to submit Thiago Santos with a rear naked choke at 1:49 of the third round Saturday at Apex.
The win, Teixeira’s fifth in a row, should earn him a shot at the winner of the light heavyweight title fight next year between champion Jan Blachowicz and middleweight champ Israel Adesanya.
Santos came out blazing early and dropped Teixeira with a flurry of thudding punches that bounced off the top of the Brazilian’s bald head. But Teixeira did not panic and managed to use his grappling to get top position for the remainder of the first round.
He spent much of that time hammering Santos with elbows and fists. He took Santos down early in the second and was in mount most of the time, relentlessly working for a finish.
Santos, fighting for the first time since losing a 2019 split decision to Jon Jones, came out in the third as if he knew he was in trouble. After shrugging off a takedown attempt, he blasted Teixeira with a crunching left hook.
Teixeira went down and Santos, realizing this could be his last opportunity, quickly followed him and went for the kill.
Somehow, someway though, Teixeira not only survived, but he shrugged Santos off and got to his feet. When he did, it was all but over.
Teixeira took Santos down again and after several punches forced Santos to his belly to protect his face, Teixeira sank in a rear naked choke. Santos quickly tapped and Teixeira had what may have been the most significant win of his career.
It sets him up for a title fight, and while he figures to be an underdog if it’s against Adesanya, he’s going to be a dangerous match for either opponent.
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