Teixeira (33-8) was scheduled to challenge Jiri Prochazka (33-7) for the light heavyweight championship at UFC 282, but Prochazka was forced to withdraw from the card on Wednesday due to a severe shoulder injury. Prochazka, whose timeframe for recovery could be a year, elected to vacate the title to keep the division moving.
The UFC initially tried to book Teixeira against Ankalaev (18-1) for the newly vacant title, but Teixeira said the change of opponent was too drastic on such short notice. He offered to face Ankalaev for the belt at UFC 283 on Jan. 21 in Brazil, or face Jan Blachowicz (29-9) on Dec. 10 instead. The UFC then opted to book Ankalaev and Blachowicz for the championship.
“I told them I needed more time for this guy, that he has a different style,” Teixeira told ESPN. “The guy is a southpaw. I said, ‘What about fighting him in Brazil?’ They denied that and said they needed someone to fight in Vegas. I said, ‘OK, I’ll fight Jan in Vegas. If you’re going to throw me off, Jan has a regular stance. Ankalaev is a totally different game. I need more time.”
Teixeira, 43, said the UFC hasn’t yet informed him of any plans beyond UFC 282. He said he expects he will eventually face the winner of the Dec. 10 matchup. One thing that might have worked against Teixeira’s proposal to face Blachowicz instead of Ankalaev, is the two already fought in a championship fight in late 2021. Teixeira won that fight via second-round submission.
“I think I’ll fight the winner of the two, because I’m still the No. 1 contender,” Teixeira said. “But they can take anybody they want. They can take someone not even ranked to fight for the title because it’s their company. I don’t know what they’re going to do, but I’m here. The plan is to fight the winner. I’ve earned that.”
Fighting out of Danbury, Connecticut, Teixeira said he doesn’t regret turning the fight down, despite his now uncertain future.
“This could be my last chance to fight for the title,” Teixeira said. “I want to win this belt. I’m training like a maniac. I am a professional. Every time I show up, I put on a great fight. Win or lose. I’m not going to go in there and just show up to fight a guy because they say so. This is a dangerous game and I need to prepare myself the best I can. My family is watching me. I have a lot of students in the gym watching me. I need to be professional. So, I am 100 percent behind the decision I made.”