(This story appears in today’s edition of USA TODAY.)
Glover Teixeira was cageside for the epic light heavyweight encounter between UFC titleholder Jon Jones and Swedish contender Alexander Gustafsson, and the Brazilian slugger says it was “one of the greatest fights I’ve ever watched.”
With UFC President Dana White suggesting a Jones vs. Gustafsson rematch could be next, Teixeira concedes he’d love to see the pair tangle again — after he gets his shot at the belt.
“Even I want to watch that fight again,” Teixeira told USA TODAY Sports. “But it’s hard to say I’m OK with it, because I worked so hard to get this opportunity. I felt like I had my hands right there on the chance, and now they’re going to take it away from me, and who knows for how long? It could be a year from now. It’s really upsetting to me.”
Teixeira (22-2 MMA, 5-0 UFC) fought most recently Sept.4, scoring a first-round technical knockout against perennial contender Ryan Bader in the main event of UFC Fight Night 28. With the win, Teixeira ran his streak to 20 and was named the division’s No.1 contender.
So Teixeira attended Saturday’s UFC 165 at Toronto’s Air Canada Centre as an opportunity to scout his next opponent. Would it be Jones (19-1 MMA, 13-1 UFC), the top pound-for-pound fighter in the sport, or Gustafsson (15-2 MMA, 7-2 UFC), the 6-5 challenger who was the first opponent to match the champ in terms of physical stature?
“It was a very close fight, but I scored the first round for Gustafsson and all the other rounds to Jones even though it was close — very close,” Teixeira said. “Jones was getting hit a lot, but also he was pushing forward and trying to get takedowns, as well as catching Gustafsson with kicks and elbows.”
Judge Chris Lee agreed with Teixeira’s assessment, while Richard Bertrand and Doug Crosby each gave Jones three of five rounds, earning the champion a win by unanimous decision after an incredible 25 minutes, one of the best title fights in UFC light heavyweight history.
While he came up short in his bid for the title, Gustafsson became the first man to truly test Jones, and many fans said the challenger should have been awarded the result. At the post-event media conference, White said his immediate preference was to book the pair for a second encounter but he would wait a few weeks to make an official decision.
Teixeira said if the company elected to go in that direction, he’d ask for another fight and remain active rather than wait on the sideline for another promise of a title bid.
“There’s no way I’m just going to sit around,” Teixeira said. “I’m healthy. I’m good. I had a few minor injuries before the fight with Bader, but nothing major, and we’re getting it taken care of. I could be ready to fight in three or four months, and I don’t want to wait. If they’re going to do this rematch, then I want to get in there and fight someone else.”
Teixeira said he hadn’t spoken with UFC officials but was awaiting their decision. If they’re listening, Teixeira thinks the rematch can wait.
“I want that title shot,” Teixeira said. “That’s all I want. I’ll sit back and wait and cross my fingers.”
For complete coverage of UFC 165, stay tuned to the UFC Events section of the site.
(Pictured: Alexander Gustafsson and Jon Jones)