While much of the UFC 163 post-fight press conference was focused on the evening’s action, UFC executive Marshall Zelaznik took a moment to shed some light on the future of the light heavyweight division. Lyoto Machida has long been considered a top contender, but his controversial decision loss to Phil Davis on Saturday night once again put any title hopes on ice. The former Penn State wrestler seemed to get the worst of the striking exchange against his elusive opponent, but he was able to score two important takedowns that likely did just enough to earn him the nod from the judges. The decision wasn’t well received by the Brazilian crowd, nor Machida himself, and it is safe to assume many watching from home felt the same way. He was promised a title shot after each of his last two victories, both of which were later recanted. That can only add to the sting he must feel, knowing that another shot just slipped through his fingers. With his loss, the UFC chose to look elsewhere for a viable contender to challenge the winner of the championship bout that takes place later this year, involving Jon Jones and Alexander Gustafsson.
Enter Glover Teixeira. The 33-year-old Brazilian has been fighting professionally since 2002, and amassed a 17-2 record before making his UFC debut last year. Since that time he has gone 4-0 in the promotion, most recently dispatching of James Te Huna via first round guillotine choke back at UFC 160. Teixeira trains out of “The Pit” in San Luis Obispo, CA, made famous by former UFC Light Heavyweight Champion Chuck Liddell. He was originally set to face Ryan Bader in his last bout, but an undisclosed injury removed Bader from the card. He will now get another chance, as the two will square off in Belo Horizonte, Brazil on September 3, 2013 during the UFC’s third installation on the new Fox Sports 1 network.
It was announced at the UFC 163 post-fight press conference that a “big win” will earn Teixeira a shot at UFC gold. A cursory look at the UFC light heavyweight rankings reveals he is most likely the best choice. A controversial decision win won’t make Phil Davis a true contender, and he will need at least one more victory to put his name in the conversation. Rashad Evans was humbled by the current champion, and Mauricio Rua, Dan Henderson, and Lyoto Machida are all now coming off losses of their own. If Jones loses his title to Gustafsson later this year all bets are off, but if Jones retains the title then Teixeira’s candidacy becomes more realistic. Only time will tell whether he can become the next contender.