In a long and honest interview with MMA Fighting ahead of Saturday’s Fight Night event, Teixeira revealed he contemplated putting an end to his MMA career following a disappointing defeat to Corey Anderson in July 2018.
It all started when Teixeira was asked what a win over Krylov would do for his career in the UFC. The Brazilian light heavyweight is on a two-fight winning streak after submitting Karl Roberson and Ion Cutelaba earlier this year, while Krylov recently returned to the winning column with a second-round choke over Ovince St. Preux.
Teixeira is currently ranked No. 9 in the official UFC light heavyweight rankings, with Krylov sitting four spots below him.
“I don’t worry about rankings anymore,” Teixeira said. “Even Dana White is pissed at it, complaining that (Daniel) Cormier dropped too much (in the pound-for-pound list), but I obviously want to be in the top 5 to have another opportunity to fight for the belt. That’s everyone’s dream. He’s ranked below me and I honestly don’t know where this win takes me in the ranking. It’s hard to say. If I had to say, I’d say top 2 [laughs].”
Every fighter’s goal is to challenge for a UFC belt and return home with extra gold in the baggage. Teixeira had that chance in the past, but came up short against Jon Jones. He sees himself two or three wins away from another shot for a UFC belt, believing that his fighting style — an advice he got from his longtime friend Chuck Liddell and watching Mike Tyson’s success in boxing — would help him cut the line at some point.
“I have to fight ranked opponent and win well, leave good impressions,” Teixeira said. “I won twice this year, and it wasn’t a fight like… Corey Anderson defeated me, but it was a fight that got me very upset. I know I can beat Corey Anderson, but that fight, all that hugging, I have to come back and not let that happen again. I hate that type of fight but it was my fault that I didn’t prepare to get out of those positions.
“Chuck Liddell told me when I started my career that if I wanted to make money I had to go there and finish the fight, finish my opponent. I’m a big fan of Mike Tyson and his fighting style, too. Of course that we need a strategy and not always we get to win by knockout or submission, but that’s always my goal. I don’t think about stalling and scoring points. I don’t even train that. We fight in the gym. I take the fight to the ground to submit. There’s no touching gloves in the gym.”
Clearly bothered by his defeat to Anderson, Teixeira would obviously jump on the opportunity to meet him again. When asked if the potential UFC return of Alexander Gustafsson, who retired from the sport in June but is already discussing coming back, Teixeira revealed he also came close to walking away from mixed martial arts last year.
“I thought about retiring after that fight with Corey Anderson,” Teixeira said. “I was kind of upset because I fought pretty badly, my shoulder was bad, but I recovered and bounced back. I was just training super hard and not paying attention to recovery and physical therapy. I’ve managed to do that now.”
What made Teixeira decide against retirement in 2018 was quite simple. All he had to do was think about a post-retirement world and if he would be truly happy something anything but fighting right now in his life.
“You have to sit down and think why you do this, where you wanna go. Would I be truly happy if I stopped fighting?” said Teixeira, giving props to the UFC Performance Institute for changing the way he trains back home. “Who you train with, who you fight. I’ve only lost to the top of the division. Another thing that really helped was the UFC PI. It helped me see what I was doing in the gym, that I was killing myself in training.
“I’m feeling great now. I’ll turn 40 next month but I’m feeling great. I’m motivated, man. When I see Cormier and Yoel Romero fighting at the top, that motivates me. I see older fighters, even Anderson Silva doing great against (Israel) Adesanya at 44 years of age. The way you train, how you respect your body, that helps fighters now. People are getting older and more mature. MMA fighters are like wine [laughs]. The older, the better.
“I love this sport, I love fighting, and I think I’ll be one of those guys that when I retire, it’s for good. It won’t be like that, returning and coming back. When I retire, it’s for real.”
Teixeira doesn’t know how many years or fights he has left in him, and age won’t be a decisive factor when he considers hanging up his gloves. For that, he looks at Rocky Balboa as inspiration.
“The day I start going to the gym and realize that my body doesn’t handle it anymore,” Teixeira said, “when I feel like Rocky Balboa in that movie where his body is so broken he can’t even leave the bed, then I’ll think about stop fighting. For now, while I still enjoy my camp and enjoy training, no. I’m enjoying all this.”
Enjoying every step of the process, Teixeira enters the eight-sided cage to battle Krylov in Canada. Not one to turn down any opponents, Teixeira sees in Krylov a match-up he very much approves.
“I was looking at his record and he never went the distance, he goes for it, and that’s my style. That’s how I like fighting,” Teixeira said. “He’s pretty well-rounded, a tough guy, but everyone is tough in the UFC. I have to face guys like to prove to myself that I’m ready to fight the top of the division.”
Win or lose, Krylov has never gone to distance in more than 30 professional bouts. Five of his six defeats came by way of submission, and that gives Teixeira an idea or two of what to do inside the cage on Saturday.
“I’m a bit unpredictable in a fight,” Teixeira said. “I like going to the ground, of course. I’m a jiu-jitsu black belt, a bronze medalist at the ADCC and I can’t leave that aside, but you’ve all seen that my boxing is sharp and if my hand lands, I love knocking people out. I train everything, but when the fight starts I see what’s best for me. My strategy is always going there and not letting it go to the judges.”
Even though he’s very complimentary of his opponent, Teixeira says that nothing Krylov does on the ground impresses him technique-wise.
“He’s the type of guy that I know I have to be careful with because he has submissions from different positions that work, but it’s not something I haven’t seen before,” Teixeira said. “I’ve trained with (Luis Henrique) ‘KLB’ and Caio Magalhaes, who are two great black belts, so that helps me a lot. I’m an experienced guy, I’ve never been submitted in MMA, and I don’t think it’s going to happen now.”