MMA Fight of 2023: Number 3
Glover Teixeira won’t go down as the greatest UFC light heavyweight champion in history. But Teixeira will be remembered as one of the best stories of perseverance in MMA history. Teixeira’s attempt to reclaim his crown from a much younger Jamahal Hill at UFC 283 shows the Brazilian had guts.
Hill, then ranked No. 8, was happy to have a shot at the crown. Hill showcased what could be a solid run at the top of the division. While all three scorecards went decidedly in Hills’ favor, the action in the fight and Hill having to hold off a stubborn Teixeira led to an action-packed fight that saw Teixeira go the distance.
This fight is No. 3 on Boxing News list as one of the top MMA fights of 2023. While the result wasn’t close on the scorecards, the bout showcased a young up-and-comer having to deal with the rigors of fighting a determined former champion desperate for one more win on his way out of the sport, according to MMA breaking news.
Light Heavyweight Division Was a Mess
Teixeira was supposed to fight at UFC 282 in December 2022 against Jiří Procházka in a rematch of the thrilling fight that ended due to stoppage with 30 seconds remaining. However, Procházka’s injury threw everything into chaos. Teixeira declined to fight the replacement fighter, Magomed Ankalaev.
Instead, the UFC booked former champion Jan Błachowicz for the fight against Ankalaev. What ensued was a worst-case scenario for the UFC. Ankalaev and Błachowicz had a boring fight, and it was ruled a draw. UFC CEO Dana White was so annoyed that he decided there would be no rematch, and Teixeira and Hill would be set to fight the following month instead.
Hill Was Someone UFC Had an Eye On
In 2017, the UFC launched Dana White’s Contenders Series as a show to help prospective fighters earn a contract. Having fighters debut through this show, instead of coming from various regional circuits, allowed the UFC to help start building these fighter’s star power. Before Hill fought Teixeira at UFC 283, the show had yet to produce a champion.
Hill had his fight on Dana White’s Contender Series on July 23, 2019, and knocked out Alexander Poppeck 22 seconds into the third round. That victory wasn’t the magic ticket to a spot at the top of the rankings. Hill had to battle his way up.
One significant setback came with a knockout loss to Paul Craig at UFC 263. However, Hill shrugged that off quickly by knocking out three straight contenders, Jimmy Crute, Johnny Walker, and Thiago Santos, to earn his shot at Teixeira.
Teixeira’s Climb was Long, Title Reign was Brief
Teixeira becoming a light heavyweight champion at any point is impressive. He had the misfortune of coming along in his prime while Jon Jones was the champion. In Teixeira’s lone chance at fighting Jones for the title, at UFC 172 in 2014, he was dominated for five rounds in a unanimous decision win by Jones.
Teixeira wouldn’t get another opportunity to fight for a championship until a week before his 42nd birthday. A five-fight winning streak put him in position to fight Błachowicz. Teixeira would submit Błachowicz in the second round to become the oldest-ever first-time champion in the UFC.
While being ahead on the scorecards in his next fight against Procházka, Teixeira ran out of gas and lost with 28 seconds remaining via a rear-naked choke, according to MMA latest updates.
Early Rounds of Hill-Teixeira Were Rough
Hill was much younger than Teixeira and had a noted advantage in speed and conditioning. What this provided Hill was an opportunity to throw some creative offense. Several high kicks had Teixeira in a rough spot in the second and third rounds.
Hill had to remember to be careful, as Teixeira opened up a cut in the second round on Hill’s face while the two men exchanged in the pocket. In both the second and third rounds, Hill had opportunities to finish the fight, but Teixeira was able to stay on his feet.
Hill’s was the far busier fight on their feet, attempting 419 total strikes to Teixeira’s 196. Hill would end up landing 232 significant strikes. While the doctor came out to look at Teixeira before round five due to the accumulation of damage, the fight was allowed to continue.
Round 5 Showed Both Men’s Toughness
Teixeira’s wrestling wasn’t working. He tried everything throughout the night to force Hill to the mat. But it seemed nothing would allow Teixeira to get to where he is most comfortable. However, Teixeira could get on a single leg seconds into the third round.
Teixeira could turn the single leg into an inside trip and send Hill to his back. However, Hill would sweep Teixeira and end up on top. Hill would finish the round with an advantage but couldn’t finish Teixeira. He would win a comfortable 50-44 decision on all three scorecards.
Aftermath Leaves Fans Wondering What If
Much like Procházka before him, Hill followed up his win over Teixeira with an injury in training. Instead of making a Hill vs. Procházka fight that people wanted to see, the UFC booked Procházka against Alex Pereira. Pereira would win by second-round stoppage.
The best MMA news sites reported Teixeira didn’t want to continue to keep fighting up the ladder. He decided to retire at age 43. Despite not making a title defense, he ended up having two memorable championship fights with Procházka and Hill. While Teixeira wasn’t a dominant champion, he had great humility.
After losing to Hill, Teixeira walked to the back with him. Brazilian fans had previously thrown things at Brandon Moreno when he beat Brazilian Deiveson Figueiredo to win the flyweight title. It was a gracious exit for a hardworking fighter who took a long time to reach the sport’s pinnacle.
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