LAS VEGAS – Remember that one time when James Te Huna walked out with some “Men in Black” dancers, all decked out in shades, nailing the dance moves down the aisle?
Most people do – it was one of the better UFC walkouts in recent memory. But there was a little more to it than just a fighter deciding to have a little fun.
Te Huna (16-5 MMA, 5-1 UFC) on Saturday meets Glover Teixeira (20-2 MMA, 3-0 UFC) in a pivotal light heavyweight fight on the main card of UFC 160 at MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas.
And he’ll do so in a significantly better head space than he was in when he fought Ryan Jimmo in February. He may have that walkout to thank for it – something he orchestrated purely to try to cleanse some of the bad vibes from his training camp.
“The walkout was really for me – I had some problems going on through camp,” Te Huna told MMAjunkie.com (www.mmajunkie.com). “When you walk out to the cage, it’s daunting and you’re a nervous wreck – and that just took it right out of me. I was having fun and enjoyed it and it got my mind clear.”
Well, mostly it did. Because believe it or not, Te Huna had a premonition before the fight. And he had a premonition during the fight.
And it’s one that may be fairly unique for a fighter. Simply put, he thought he was going to lose.
“With Jimmo, I went into that fight expecting to get head kicked and lose,” Te Huna admitted. “And sure enough, I got head kicked. I was thinking that before I walked out. And in the cage, I was thinking the same thing. Sure enough, he came, and I couldn’t remember the head kick. In that fight, the camp wasn’t going too well, I had all of these negative thoughts in my head – and I kept that one.”
But he survived that rough first round, and he battled, and he battled some more, and he took home a decision – his fourth straight win since a loss to Alexander Gustafsson two years prior.
And once that hurdle was cleared, he set about bringing a new mindset to his camp for Teixeira.
“Now, I’m positive upstairs, I’m feeling very confident and I’m smiling,” he said. “I’ve been smiling for the last 10 weeks.”
Those smiles started the minute he found out he’d be fighting Teixeira, which is not a fight he had to agree to – because it’s a fight he wanted.
“I wanted the match, and a lot of people don’t know it, but I was the one that asked for it,” Te Huna said. “I got into this sport for the challenges, and this is just another one for me. He’s an exciting fighter – when he first came to the UFC, he was blowing people right out of the water. Everybody was talking about him, and he was one guy I wanted to fight. I just wanted the challenge.”
And a challenge he shall have. Teixeira is more than a 3-to-1 favorite in the fight. Teixeira has won his first three UFC fights after coming in highly touted. A win over Te Huna would get Teixeira closer to his goal of fighting for a title.
But for Te Huna, a win over Teixeira really would put him into the mainstream MMA consciousness – with no more of this flying under the radar business for the Australian.
“Up on the main card, and the third fight from the main event – that’s a huge deal,” Te Huna said. “I didn’t expect to get this far this fast. It’s overwhelming. I’m focused so much on this fight and haven’t thought past it. But I wanted to be in a Top 10 (fight) and this is a good start.
“He’s the most talked-about light heavyweight and the most dangerous in the division, I think, and I want this fight.”
UFC 160 has a main card that airs on pay-per-view following prelims on FX and Facebook.
For the latest on UFC 160, stay tuned to the UFC Rumors section of the site.