Glover Teixeira was on track to retain his UFC light heavyweight title at UFC 275 earlier this month, but a few miscalculations cost the Brazilian his shiny gold belt.
Teixeira, who ended up losing to Jiri Prochazka via fifth round submission in one of the best 205-pound title fights of all-time, was winning on the judges’ scorecards entering the fifth and final round (see them here). The 42-year-old veteran also had a chance to stop Prochazka on the feet in the final minutes of the fight, but he pulled guard to secure a guillotine and Jiri’s head popped out. Later in the round, Prochazka was able to finish Teixeira and walked away with the title.
While Teixeira could have avoided Prochazka’s submission finish late in the fifth the champion’s botched guillotine attempt may have been the turning point in the fight. It was an ill-advised decision by Teixeira who believes instincts took over in the heat of the moment.
“Instinct, right?” Teixeira said on a special edition of MMA Fighting podcast Trocacao Franca. “He put his head down and his neck fell right into my guillotine. I didn’t go for it, he gave it to me. I could have been more patient, of course. I kind of jumped the gun. But the same way he caught me later — we think that when someone is hurt and tired you’ll catch him with a guillotine and he’ll tap quickly, sometimes he goes out quickly too.
“I’ve always said this, anyone can submit anyone [in MMA]. You can put Roger Gracie in there, who has the best jiu-jitsu in the world. If someone knocks him down and he’s hurt, you can get him with a rear-naked choke. You’ll compete in jiu-jitsu with Rodolfo Vieira and you won’t catch him, I bet that, but it happens in MMA. And it happened with me.
“But the guillotine, man — I feel like crying watching it again. F***,” he continued.
“There’s a lot that goes on in a fight and you’ll learn from it. ‘I could’ve done this or that.’ I always go back and watch it to fix my mistakes, regardless of winning or losing. I’m always criticizing myself and fixing my mistakes. But it is what it is.”
Teixeira, who was riding a six-fight win streak heading into his title fight with Prochazka at UFC 275, doesn’t believe there was any way to escape Jiri’s final submission attempt with 30 seconds left in the fight. Glover is a world-class grappler, but the two light heavyweights had just went toe-to-toe in an all-out war. Teixeira was simply exhausted.
“Someone will say, ‘F***, he was on the side, there’s no [reason to tap]. How did he tap?’ I tapped,” Teixeira said. “There’s no way around this, I tapped because I was almost desperate, so much so that I stayed there on the ground after the fight ended. Everything went dark, I was going out already. Not tapping wouldn’t have changed the result of the fight.
“But, I dominated the jiu-jitsu [exchanges] the entire time. There were some times I dominated on the feet, too. There were some times I lost on the feet, but I always dominated on the ground. I was on the bottom a few times but always defended his ground and pound. That’s the reality, I dominated on the ground but was caught in the last minute. Like a punch, someone dominating the entire fight and a punch lands.”
Teixeira has been fighting the best light heavyweights in the world for nearly a decade, but his defeat to Prochazka is the first time he’s ever been submitted in MMA competition. Coming into the fight nobody expected Jiri to win the way he did, but Teixeira believes anything is possible when the cage door shuts.
“I thought his chances of winning would be by knocking me out, landing a flying knee, an elbow,” Teixeira said. “That’s what I expected before the fight: ‘This guy has this chance and I have to be alert.’ But on the ground, man, it never crossed my mind. ‘He’ll try to do this, to submit me,’ I never imagined him trying that. I imagined exactly what happened for four-and-a-half rounds — him trying to knock me out on the feet and me landing some good hands, maybe catching him with a counter when he comes for it, and dominating on the ground. That worked perfectly for four-and-a-half rounds.
“I never underestimate anyone, never think I’ll submit everyone in the first round. I’ll always go for the submission, that’s why I said you live by the sword and die by the sword. ... That’s what fans like. That’s what I do, and I have no regrets doing it, but the lesson is to always be alert. It happened for the first time in my career, and it is what it is. Life goes on.”
To check out the latest and greatest UFC 275: “Teixeira vs. Prochazka” news and notes be sure to hit up our comprehensive event archive right here.