Nature, nurture, heaven, and home
Sum of all, and by them, driven
To conquer every mountain shown
But I’ve never crossed the river
- The Humbling River by Puscifer
UFC 267 features the second shot at the title for long time light heavyweight contender Glover Teixeira. Once one of the most feared man outside the UFC, Teixeira finally made his debut in 2012 at UFC 146. 31 years old at the time, Teixeira was in his prime. He was young, he was ferocious, he was fearsome.
Five wins into his UFC career saw a win over former champion Rampage Jackson and a brutal finish of Ryan Bader. He was the next to challenge Jon Jones who looked beatable in his previous fight against Alexander Gustafsson.
Then Teixeira came to the humbling river: Jon Jones. Jones absolutely dominated the fight and beat Teixeira convincingly in 2014 just two years into his UFC career. While he wasn’t undefeated, the loss stung. He was denied gold. Although it was to the greatest light heavyweight of all time, and possibly the greatest fighter of all time, Teixeira was essentially helpless.
Glover Teixeira and Rough Waters
The next few years weren’t so great to Glover Teixeira. He lost his next bout against Phil Davis then rallied back to a three fight win streak. Then, the most brutal part of his career was upon him.
Rumble Johnson sent Teixeira into the shadow realm in only 13 seconds. The knockout was one of the most brutal finishes you could imagine. He came back to beat Jared Cannonier and then there was the Gustafsson fight. There, he had some success, but then Alexander Gustafsson spammed something like five uppercuts to knock out Teixeira again.
Many called for Teixeira to hang the gloves up and nobody can blame them. Teixeira was taking a lot of punishment and he wasn’t done. He defeated Misha Cirkunov and then dropped another fight to Corey Anderson.
Teixeira Crossing The River
In the song The Humbling River, writer Maynard James Keenan’s lyrics talk of a warrior who has conquered everything he’s come by. “I’ve faced the quakes, the wind, the fire I’ve conquered country, crown, and throne,” sings Keenan before going on to “Why can’t I cross this river?”
The song is one of my favorites. It tells the story of the warrior who has found no challenge unconquerable. That is until he’s come across the river. In many stories throughout history, there have been warriors who are unbeatable. David fought the massive Goliath. Milo of Croton took on the tree that caught his hands. History is full of people who have seemed invincible and been defeated.
Then there are those who were humbled by loss. Heracles, the Ancient Greek God, killed his family in a rage bestowed upon him by the gods. Leonidas led the Spartans at Thermopylae against the much larger Persian army. It’s in the human psyche to root for the underdog.
In a sport like MMA, Father Time is undefeated. At 41, 42 by the time he takes on Blachowicz, he’s not only fighting the Polish champion, but the aforementioned Father Time as well.
Later on in The Humbling River, Carina Round, who is singing alongside Keenan, sings:
“It’ll take a lot more than words and guns
A whole lot more than riches and muscle
The hands of the many must join as one
And together we’ll cross the river”
Glover Teixeira couldn’t rely on himself or the process he was doing to get back to the top. Glover Teixeira learned to win with some very bad habits in his back pocket. Partying all the time and eating what he shouldn’t in between fights, Teixeira wasn’t all the way committed to fighting.
Now, Teixeira has his team. They look out for him. They keep him training and getting better. One of his partners, Alex Pereira, was a drinker as well. He began martial arts to quit drinking. In my interview with Pereira for Sherdog, he said, “At that time my main goal was to stop drinking — I drank a lot that time. This sport was fundamental for change my life. After four years I managed to get sober. Then my career took off and I never stopped.”
While not explicitly stated, it’s hard to believe in coincidence that Pereira has this philosophy and he and Glover Teixeira are now training a lot together. Along with Teixeira spending time with Pereira, he’s been close with Lyoto Machida and Wellington Turman as well. He’s got his group, his family.
His career resurgence has seen Glover Teixeira go through some tough times. Against both Thiago Santos and Ion Cutelaba, Teixeira was on the brink of loss. Teixeira faced the river. It’s seemed impossible to cross. But Teixeira used his fight family to get through and proceed to open up some of the biggest cans of whoop ass you could imagine. He braved the quakes of Rumble Johnson, winds of Alexander Gustafsson and the fire of Jon Jones.
Battle tested and all the more wiser, Glover Texiera goes into UFC 267 looking to finally realize the dream of becoming a UFC champion. The task before him is no easy one. Jan Blachowicz presents a tough challenge and has defeated Dominick Reyes and Israel Adesanya in his last two. While Blachowicz is the favorite in the fight and should he win, there’s no shame in losing for Texiera. He’s climbing the mountain and after being knocked back down by Jones, he’s clawed his way back to the peak of the mountain. He’s back to the shores of the river. He’s leaned on his family going in. Together, they’ll cross the river.
Your friendly neighborhood fight fan. I watch way too many fights and my wife lets me know it. Also, Cowboy Cerrone is the GOAT.