Glover Teixeira is so close to title contention that he can taste it.

The UFC light heavyweight fights again on Saturday night at UFC 160 in another main-card appearance. Last time out, Teixeira took one giant leap forward from unproven hype to tough, fight-tested and fan-approved.

Teixeira’s last fight was against top light heavyweight and MMA legend Quinton “Rampage” Jackson. It was a surprising display from Teixeira, who out-boxed and out-wrestled Rampage, who in his own right is a great boxer. Out-boxing Rampage was the proof needed to help show that Teixeira was ready for the big time. It confirmed that he was ready to take the next step into title contention.

Now, Teixeira steps in to face James Te Huna on Saturday night and could take that next step towards title contention. Although Te Huna might not be the name on which to build a title run, he is a rising contender and stands in the way of Teixeira’s goal to ascend to the light heavyweight throne. Te Huna could very well play spoiler and ruin Teixeira’s current 18-fight winning streak that dates back all the way to 2005.

With a win over Te Huna, Teixeira should only need one more victory to pry his way into the title picture at light heavyweight. Teixeira is right there—he is a top-10 light heavyweight, but not quite a top-five light heavyweight. A win over Te Huna isn’t enough to allow him to leapfrog past the Lyoto Machidas and Mauricio “Shogun” Ruas of the division and claim a title shot. Instead, he’ll need one more big win to get into the title picture.

Perhaps a fight with someone widely considered a top light heavyweight, like a Rashad Evans or a Dan Henderson (those two fight at UFC 161), would do the trick. If not for an injury, Henderson would have fought for the title last year. And Evans has been a perennial top contender in the division for the last few years. Both of those men stand as established names who have headlined cards in the past. A win over one of those guys would easily bolster Teixeira into the title picture and lend him credibility as more than just a flash in the pan. Evans and Henderson provide a test for Teixeira that would be a hard one to solve. Both fighters are great wrestlers and would heavily test Teixeira’s takedown defense, and both have the striking ability to stand with Teixeira as well.

Henderson has a head made of some sort of extraterrestrial substance that makes him impossible to knockout, and in that fight, Teixeira would have to rely on more than his powerful striking, which has earned him 12 knockout victories thus far in his career. Evans may have a questionable chin, but his head movement and flashes of knockout power also make him a legitimate striking threat that would force Teixeira to utilize more aspects of his own skill set.

A win over Evans or Henderson would be a great victory to couple with Teixeira’s win over Rampage. It would be hard to deny that Teixeira is the next light heavyweight in line with a resume that includes wins over Rampage, Te Huna and another well-established star of the division. Heck, it would be hard to make a case against Teixeira getting a title shot considering the wins over Te Huna and someone like Evans or Henderson would boost his winning streak to 20 consecutive fights.

Teixeira hasn’t lost since 2005, and much like another top Brazilian fighter who was riding a winning streak of greater than 20 wins—interim bantamweight champion Renan Barao—Teixeira’s streak alone would get him a title shot.

Teixeira is closing in on his championship opportunity. That road starts with a win over Te Huna. From there, he may only have one stop left before we start discussing a match-up with light heavyweight kingpin Jon Jones.

Photo: Glover Teixeira (Esther Lin/MMA Fighting)

About The Author

Sal DeRose
Staff Writer

Sal hails from New Jersey and is currently training for his first MMA fight. He hopes to use his knowledge and insight to generate articles that interest and entertain you. Outside of MMA, Sal is a big fan of every other sport. He's a diehard New York sports fan, with the exception of cheering for the Packers.