Teixeira (33-8 MMA, 16-6 UFC) was scheduled to challenge Jiri Prochazka in a title rematch in the Dec. 10 headliner at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, but Prochazka suffered a serious shoulder injury that forced him to vacate the belt. The UFC offered Teixeira a fight against Magomed Ankalaev for the vacant belt, but Teixeira preferred to face Jan Blachowicz, whom he is more familiar with and already beat.
The UFC opted against Teixeira’s preference, however, and decided to move forward with Blachowicz (29-9 MMA, 12-6 UFC) vs. Ankalaev (18-1 MMA, 9-1 UFC) as the new headliner, leaving Teixeira in the lurch wondering what’s next. Many argued the Brazilian was mistreated in the situation, and while Teixeira would’ve liked to have fought for the belt, he said he stands behind his decisions.
“I’ve got to be smart about this,” Teixeira told MMA Junkie in an interview facilitated by one of his sponsors, Stake.com. “I’m professional. I earned my way to the top, not to take fights like that. I would take fights like that maybe to get into the UFC or to get a title fight if I was No. 8 contender. But I earned this spot over here with a lot of sweat, tears and blood. You saw how much blood was in my last fight. So I earned my spot to get the title fight. That’s why I stand by my decision.”
Jan Blachowicz: 'I don't care if I'm the underdog' against Magomed Ankalaev at UFC 282
Video: Was the UFC 282 title-fight shakeup handled properly?
Teixeira may get some criticism for being willing to fight one replacement opponent and not another, but he explained how Ankalaev is a “dramatic change” from the style he prepared for in Prochazka, whereas it would be a smoother switch for Ankalaev to switch from preparing for Blachowicz to himself.
Ultimately, it’s a hiccup in Teixeira’s plan to regain the 205-pound strap he lost to Prochazka in a Fight of the Year contender at UFC 275 in June. However, it’s not a irreparable blow.
With Prochazka expected to be out of action for a year or possibly longer, it’s likely the Blachowicz vs. Ankalaev winner will be scheduled for a title defense in the first half of 2023. Teixeira anticipates that he’ll be next in line, and he predicts Ankalaev will be the man holding gold.
“That’s the plan: Keep training, keep focused and working hard and enjoy life and waiting for the next call, (find out) who it’s going to be, who is going to win and if they’re going to put me to fight and when,” Teixeira said.
“I think Ankalaev is going to win that fight. I believe Jan has a chance. He’s got the power, but I thought Jan was going to lose to Adesanya and he went and surprised me. But I feel like Ankalaev is going to win. I hope Jan wins. I like the guy. I think he deserves it. We’ll see.”
For more on the card, visit MMA Junkie’s event hub for UFC 282.