Late Bloomers Would Have Explosive Championship Bout

December 8, 2023
3 months

Chuck Liddell and Glover Teixeira both took long roads toward finding success in mixed martial arts. Liddell came along at a time when MMA hadn’t entirely found its legs on the national stage. He wrestled in college and would find his way to fighting professionally in the late 1990s when the UFC started to see its first surge in popularity. Liddell would find his way into the mainstream as a training partner and later a rival of former champion Tito Ortiz.

Teixeira couldn’t make his UFC debut until his early 30s. Teixeira came from a remote town in Brazil where many families didn’t have electricity. He came to the United States in 1999 and became a landscaper to help support his family. Despite facing adversity, Teixeira turned his career around and became the oldest first-time champion in UFC history, according to MMA news sites.

Teixeira Never Gave Up on His Dream

When Teixeira settled in Danbury, Conn., in 1999, the Brazil native had never heard of Brazilian jiu-jitsu. After being inspired by watching some of the top boxers and MMA fighters compete, Teixeira decided he wanted to find a way to try and pursue a career in fighting. He would spend time training after working 12-hour shifts in landscaping. 

Eventually, Teixeira became proficient enough to make his MMA debut in June 2002. Teixeira’s first fight ended in a disaster as he lost via TKO against Eric Schwartz at WEC 3. Over the next nine years, Teixeira would spend time refining his career and record to 17-2 before he got the call from the UFC.

First Title Challenge and Adversity

Teixeira quickly showed he belonged in the UFC. During his debut, Teixeira submitted Kyle Kingsbury in the first round with an arm-triangle choke. Teixeira would follow up with four more victories before he earned a championship bout with Jon Jones at UFC 172 in April 2014.

Teixeira wouldn’t capitalize on the opportunity and lost to Jones, one of the most dominant champions. But what followed is what killed Teixeira’s momentum. Over his next 10 fights, Teixeira struggled to a 5-5 record and appeared to be done as a title contender.

But things changed following a first-round submission of Karl Roberson in January 2019. Teixeira would run off a string of four straight wins and earn a title shot against Jan Błachowicz at UFC 267. Teixeira won via submission to become the UFC’s oldest first-time champion.

Teixeira’s reign was short, however. He lost his title in a classic fight at UFC 275, where he was forced to tap out with 28 seconds remaining. If Teixeira had made the final bell, judges likely would have picked him as the winner of Jiří Procházka. Teixeira would fight again before retiring, losing another close championship fight to Jamahal Hill at UFC 283.

MMA breaking news shows that Teixeira wrapped up his career with a 34-9 record, including 19 wins by knockout and 10 by submission.

Liddell Takes Time to Claim Title

Liddell made his UFC debut in 1998 at age 29. After opening his career with a 12-1 mark, Liddell would fight another early UFC legend, Randy Couture, for the interim light heavyweight title in 2003. But Liddell wasn’t able to get the job done.

Couture scored a third-round knockout, and Liddell went to Japan to take on some fights in Pride. When Liddell returned in 2004, he fought Tito Ortiz, a former training partner he had developed bad blood with at UFC 47. Following another knockout win over Vernon White, Liddell would have an opportunity to get revenge on Couture at UFC 52 in April 2005, according to the latest MMA updates.

The Iceman Cometh

Liddell’s moniker “The Iceman” came honestly. When Liddell would get his hands on his opponents, he could inflict serious danger. During Liddell’s career, he went 21-9 and had 13 victories coming by knockout.

During Liddell’s rematch with Couture, he pressured the wrestling specialist and won via knockout in the first round. That kicked off a string of title defenses where Liddell would KO Ortiz and Couture again, as well as knock out Jeremy Horn and Renato Sobral.

All of that came crashing down in what was an ugly end to Liddell’s career. He lost his championship after being knocked out by Quinton Jackson in May 2007. Liddell would go on to lose six of his final seven career fights.

Despite hearing a lot of criticism for hanging on too long, Liddell was desperate to show he still had it. Liddell agreed to a third fight with Ortiz under the Golden Boy Promotions banner in 2018, which ended with Ortiz finally beating Liddell by first-round KO.

Who Would Win?

There is always an important qualifier most die-hard sports fans will put on most debates. It’s hard to compare eras. While the UFC’s time in the pantheon of American sports is short, the promotion is celebrating 30 years in 2023; it is difficult not to think about that when it comes to Liddell. At his peak, Liddell’s powerful hands would be capable of putting Teixeira to sleep with his striking.

Liddell was a specialist at putting people away, and that was attributed to his large appeal and fanbase. But one thing that anybody watching the UFC during its “human cockfighting” era, which Liddell caught at the tail end, will see is that fighters are more well-rounded today.

While Liddell was a collegiate wrestler, he didn’t lean on that much during his time in MMA. Teixeira was an excellent grappler, unafraid to go to the mat with any opponent. While Liddell has some holes in his game, a fight between the two would likely end in a Liddell knockout if fought in both men’s prime. He would force the action and not allow the bout to go to the mats.

But Teixeira, who showed heart and desire in all three of his title fights to end his career against much younger contenders, wouldn’t make life easy for Liddell. Liddell would have to knock out Teixiera to win. Teixeira has zero quit in him.

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