Teixeira has big plans for UFC takeover

Light heavyweight Glover Teixeira, top, is one of the most talked-about UFC newcomers in years. Chris Dela Cruz/Sherdog.com

First Quinton "Rampage" Jackson pulled out due to injury, then Rashad Evans said no, citing lack of preparation time.

Whatever the reasons, real or imagined, there is a perception brewing that UFC light heavyweights want nothing to do with Glover Teixeira.

The hard-hitting Brazilian is aware of the excitement surrounding his entry into mixed martial arts' biggest promotion. But he isn't caught up in the hoopla.

Teixeira tunes out the hype machine. This is MMA, the most grueling fight game, and he views himself as the consummate fighter.

He might be in his infancy as a UFC combatant, but he is no novice to this sport. So while veteran fighters approach him with caution, he understands their reasoning, though it might not be in agreement with his own fighting philosophy.

"I understand where they're coming from," Teixeira told ESPN.com. "I've just come into the UFC; I've only had one fight in UFC. Those guys have been in there for a long time. But it's kind of weird. I come from the camp of Chuck Liddell, and he never ducked a fight. Whatever guys do that, they feel is best for their careers. I'm not judging.

"It doesn't matter to me, I'm just going to keep fighting and get my name out there."

Teixeira (18-2) makes his second Octagon appearance Saturday night at UFC 153 in Rio de Janeiro. And he will enter HSBC Arena against Fabio Maldonado with the same workmanlike attitude that has transformed him into one of the most talked-about UFC newcomers in years.

Maldonado is a late replacement for Jackson, but taking on a new opponent doesn't concern Teixeira. It's a regular occurrence for him.

Teixeira has fought in Brazil many times, and getting a change of opponent on short notice, sometimes less than 24 hours before a fight, is commonplace. It's situations like this that helped shape Teixeira's competitive mindset.

Besides, Maldonado's style is similar to Jackson's. Teixeira isn't one to guarantee victory -- he's too seasoned a professional to do that -- but this fight Saturday is being viewed as another day at the office.

He's familiar with Maldonado personally. The two fought on several cards together in Brazil and they've held brief conversations in the past. Teixeira considers him a good man. But that's where the friendliness ends. Maldonado is an opponent now, and Teixeira has him sized up.

"I've seen his fights and he's a good boxer," Teixeira said. "I don't see anything that's truly special, but he doesn't make a lot of mistakes, either. He's a tough fighter. I was training for Rampage, who is more of a boxing guy, now I'm facing Maldonado who is also a boxer. So things haven't changed too much, just the strategy a little bit.

"Opponents change all the time. I was fighting in Brazil where opponents change overnight, so I don't care. I just want to do my job and get in there and fight."

Barring an unforeseen circumstance or freak injury, Teixeira is expected to find success Saturday night and move a step closer toward an inevitable 205-pound title shot. Most believe that fight will be against current titleholder Jon Jones.

Despite his limited time in UFC, Teixeira has already surfaced as the biggest threat to Jones' reign. Teixeira has the UFC light heavyweight championship on his to-do list, but wants all his ducks to be in a row before facing Jones.

It has nothing to do with gaining cage experience or fine-tuning his skills, Teixeira already possesses those qualities; he wants to fully capitalize on such a potentially huge event. That means increasing his profile with UFC fans.

"I want to have a couple of more fights in the UFC," said Teixeira, a well-round mixed martial artist who owns solid striking and submission skills. "I want to build up a good fan base.

"I'm ready to face anybody in UFC right now -- that's my confidence. But I have to show where I come from. I just have to keep fighting and show people."

And when UFC officials give him the word that a date with Jones has been set, there is one place Teixeira hopes the fight will take place: New York City.

Teixeira grew up in Brazil, but now calls Danbury, Conn., home. And the Big Apple has been his playpen for quite a while as he often trains at a gym in the Bronx.

He moved to Connecticut, where he met his wife, Ingrid, in 1999. Despite stints in San Luis Obispo, Calif., where he trains at The Pit under John Hackleman, and a return to Brazil to resolve immigration issues, Teixeira is a full-fledged New Englander now.

Residing close to New York City, and with Jones being a native of Rochester, N.Y., Teixeira sees the fight as a perfect way to welcome UFC to the Empire State.

There is little reason to doubt that Jones and Teixeira will continue winning and eventually step in the cage together, the lone hurdle appears to be getting MMA sanctioned in New York.

"I'd love to fight in New York," Teixeira said. "I love the city. My wife called me recently and told me she saw the sign for UFC 153 in Times Square. I’m excited about that. I'd love to fight there. Danbury has a big Brazilian community, New York as well, and they'd all be there. It would be awesome. I would love to fight in New York someday."