Glover Teixeira’s late career run has gone from an interesting sidelight to one of the great ongoing stories in MMA.
The light heavyweight, who recently turned 41, marked himself as a serious contender for the belt held by Jan Blachowicz with a sensational victory over former title challenger Thiago Santos on Saturday night in the main event of UFC on ESPN+ 40.
Teixeira (32-7 MMA, 15-5 UFC) absorbed onslaughts from Santos (21-8 MMA, 13-7 UFC) that would have stopped lesser fighters in both the first and third round before finishing his fellow Brazilian with a rear-naked choke. The time of the stoppage at the UFC Apex in Las Vegas was the 1:49 mark of the third round.
Teixiera has won five consecutive bouts, four by finish.
Santos got off to a flying start as he dropped Teixeira with one of his first shots of the fight. He followed up with a hellacious flurry on the ground. Teixeira, however, managed to get his wits back about him right when it seemed Santos was going to make an easy night, got back into the fight, and managed to score a takedown and turn the fight in his favor. Teixeira worked in half guard and side control the rest of the way, landing punches and elbows throughout.
The second was more of the same, as Teixeira shot for a double in the opening seconds and got it, then continued working him over in what appeared to be a 10-8 round. Teixeira sunk in a tight rear-naked choke and Santos was saved by the horn, needing several seconds to recover before he could get up and go back to his corner.
Santos had one more run left in him. He dropped Teixeira with a hellacious left hook in the pocket and followed up with big strikes on the ground to start the third. But he gassed, and as soon as he had his opening, the veteran grappler reversed position on Santos, once again got a rear-naked choke, and this time, Santos was quick to tap.
The win was the 27th career finish for Teixeira, and the man who got a light heavyweight title shot in 2014 made his pitch for another in 2021.
“Five fights in a row beating the same guys, it’s not easy,” he said in his post-fight interview. “Give me the title shot, man.”
The light heavyweight bout was the UFC on ESPN+ 40 main event at the UFC Apex in Las Vegas. It aired on ESPN and streamed on ESPN+.
Complete UFC on ESPN+ 40 results:
- Glover Teixeira def. Thiago Santos via submission (rear-naked choke) — Round 3, 1:49
- Andrei Arlovski def. Tanner Boser via unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28)
- Raoni Barcelos def. Khalid Taha via unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27)
- Giga Chikadze def. Jamey Simmons via TKO (head kick) – Round 1, 3:51
- Yan Xiaonan def. Claudia Gadelha via unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28)
- Trevin Giles def. Bevon Lewis via TKO (punches) – Round 3, 1:26
- Alexandr Romanov def. Marcos Rogerio via technical submission (arm-triangle choke) – Round 1, 4:48
- Darren Elkins def. Eduardo Garagorri via submission (rear-naked choke) – Round 3, 2:22
- Max Griffin def. Ramiz Brahimaj via TKO (injury) – Round 3, 2:03
- Gustavo Lopez def. Anthony Birchak via submission (rear-naked choke) – Round 1, 2:43