Picking Three Potential Opponents For Glover Teixeira At UFC On FOX 20

Glover Teixeira is looking for a fight, but there aren’t a lot of options. Things were looking good in his march back to title contention, but with the news that No. 3 ranked light heavyweight Anthony Johnson had to pull out of their UFC on FOX 20 fight, the UFC is scrambling. Unfortunately, this is a situation in which only the UFC is to blame. Light heavyweight is arguably the weakest division in the UFC right now, with a cabal of fighters that have mostly already fought and definitively beat each other.

Now Teixeira is near the top of the division, coming off an impressive knockout over former champ Rashad Evans, and is left with no one to fight. So he has offered to fight anyone.

“Ed (Soares) is talking to Joe Silva. I don’t care. Anyone,” he said. “I’m not the type of fighter to call someone out. I challenged Anthony Johnson because he was going to wait, and he’s the No. 1 contender. That fight made a lot of sense to me because a win would get me next to a title shot. I’d be the next in line. I don’t have much choice now. Bring anyone.”

So who can the UFC bring on short notice? UFC on FOX 20 goes down on July 23, and with medical suspensions and a general shifting of previously agreed-to fights, there are only a few options left. My personal, No. 1 choice for a replacement would be current middleweight Gegard Mousasi, who had his UFC 200 fight against Derek Brunson put in flux after Brunson got hurt, but Thiago Santos stepped in quickly. So now what?

We’re going to have to go somewhat deep to the well here. The irony is that collectively, World Series of Fighting and Bellator have decent light heavyweight divisions compared to the UFC’s band of men that have fallen to Jon Jones (everyone would fall to Jon Jones, let’s be clear). There’s a reason why there’s only a single light heavyweight fight on this card. So, let’s start with the easy one.

Alexander Gustafsson

Gus is currently No. 4 on the official UFC rankings, with Glover at No. 3. The fight just makes sense, and the Swede told Kimura.se that he’d step in as long as the UFC took care of him.

“I would easily say yes if they asked me. That is, if I get paid as I’m supposed to, just like everyone else in the UFC that gets a nice paycheck when they step up on short notice. I’m in great shape and my training has been great these past weeks.”

But Gus is headlining UFC Fight Night 93 in Germany. That card isn’t looking spectacular, to say the least, but what matters more here — the co-main event of a big FOX card, one that could have direct title implications, or a fight night main event? Gus is currently on a two-fight losing streak, falling to Anthony Johnson in the first round and losing a split-decision to Daniel Cormier for the light heavyweight title at UFC 192 in October. Another loss here, on short notice, won’t hurt his stock too much, and a win puts him right back on track. His fight against Jan Blachowicz doesn’t do much aside from fill a spot.

Ilir Latifi 

Gustafsson’s teammate and a medium-sized monster of a man, Ilir Latifi is beloved by hardcore MMA fans for his grit and meme-able personality. I mean, if this single picture doesn’t make you want to gift this man the world, then what does it do? Are you heartless?

Latifi doesn’t even know how much people like him, so the UFC definitely doesn’t know. Litifi is 5-2 in the UFC since taking on Gegard Mousasi on extremely short notice back in 2013, with 4 of his wins being impressive finishes (3 KOs). He’s ranked 13th, but everyone likes a Rocky story, and this could be that story.

Antonio Rogerio Nogueira

Lil Nog is ranked No. 10 currently, and he’s seemingly healthy coming off a first round knockout of Patrick Cummins at UFC 198. This would be a quick turnaround, but it’s possible Nog wants to get as many fights in as he can while he feels good. The 40-year-old can see the end of his career coming, and while he’s hasn’t been as active in recent years, fighting only four times in the last three years (and going 2-2 in that timeframe), it seems like he could fill a void and make this fight a reality.

No matter what, the pickings are slim for the UFC and Glover. There could be plenty of other fighters out there (Tom Lawlor, anyone?) that could step up from middleweight or come in to the UFC in a sorta squash match, but the UFC needs to make this co-main matter at least somewhat, and Glover deserves a good fight.