Everything sets up perfectly for Glover Teixeira to cement his status as the top contender in the Ultimate Fighting Championship light heavyweight division tonight and earn the next shot at the belt.
All that stands in his way is Ryan Bader, a 30-year-old Reno native and McQueen High School graduate.
Teixeira, 33, has a chance to extend his winning streak to 20 in the main event of tonight’s Fight Night 28 card in Belo Horizonte, Brazil.
A win in his native country would all but guarantee Teixeira the next spot in line for the 205-pound belt, which Jon Jones will defend this month against Alexander Gustafsson.
Teixeira knows where he stands in the rankings, but he said hearing UFC president Dana White put into words how close Teixeira is to getting a chance at the belt provided an extra spark.
“Of course I’m very excited when (White) says that,” Teixeira said. “I want to get the title shot, and it motivates me a little more.”
Bader would like nothing more than to end Teixeira’s winning streak and change the course of the division.
“Just to get the opportunity to fight in the main event is huge, and I’m going to take full advantage of it,” Bader said. “For me, I get to go in and spoil all of his plans, all of the UFC’s plans, and use it as my own. I get to go and jump into his spot, climb up the ladder and be closer to that title contention. Ultimately, what I want is a championship, so this is a huge fight and opportunity for me.”
He has been in a somewhat similar situation before when, as an undefeated prospect in early 2011, he fought Jones just before he won the title. Bader was overmatched and submitted in the second round.
Bader was submitted by Tito Ortiz in his next fight but has won three of four since and appears to be back on the rise.
“I’m a different fighter than I was a couple fights ago, and a win here would make a statement that I’m doing the right things. I’m a force in this weight division, and I’m coming for that title,” he said. “There’s no weight on my shoulders. He has all the pressure. I just get to go in there and do my thing, and that’s when I fight the best.
“I love playing the underdog role. I get to go in there and beat him in his own country, and there’s nothing better than that.”
The fight headlines a main card that airs live on Fox Sports 1 (Cable 329) at 5 p.m. It also features a top flyweight contender bout between Joseph Benavidez and Jussier Formiga. The preliminary card airs live at 3.
The live fights are followed by the season premiere of “The Ultimate Fighter” on Fox Sports 1, pitting rivals Miesha Tate and Ronda Rousey against each other as coaches.
Contact reporter Adam Hill at firstname.lastname@example.org or 702-224-5509. Follow him on Twitter: @adamhilllvrj.