Lyoto Machida was the UFC light-heavyweight No. 1 contender until he wasn’t. That designation, seemingly won after beating Dan Henderson in February, is lost after Machida fell in a controversial but unanimous decision to Phil Davis at UFC 163.
That result left a vacancy near the top of the rankings, a co-starring role that may be quickly recast with the surging Brazilian Glover Teixeira, who faces Ryan Bader at the Sept. 4 UFC Fight Night event in Belo Horizonte, Brazil.
With the eyes of the Brazilian media focused on the UFC in Rio Saturday night, the promotion pushed Teixeira closer to the spotlight. The rest now appears to be up to him.
“Dana [White] and Joe [Silva] have confirmed that with a strong victory by Glover, he probably gets the winner of the Jon Jones fight,” UFC managing director of international development Marshall Zelaznik said during the UFC 163 post-fight press conference. “So Glover’s got an opportunity to go for that belt with a big win.”
The declaration squares with champion Jones’ stated desire to face fresh opponents instead of engaging in rematches. For example, he recently resisted the possibility of a second fight with Machida, leading to a pairing with Gustafsson that will take place at UFC 165 on Sept. 21.
Teixeira (21-2) was ranked No. 3 in the most recent UFC poll, behind only Machida and Gustafsson,
The 33-year-old has won all four of his octagon starts, with three finishes. He hasn’t lost a fight since March 2005, reeling off 19 straight victories. The rugged, well-rounded Brazilian is renowned for a ferocious pace, averaging exceptional fight totals of 6.1 landed strikes per minute, 4.06 takedowns per 15 minutes, and 47 percent strike accuracy. He’s also yet to suffer a takedown during his UFC tenure, a trait shared with the champion Jones.