UFC 283: Teixeira’s Homecoming Will See a Difficult Test in Surging Hill

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Glover Teixeira and Jamahal Hill Credit: Wander Roberto/UFC

Glover Teixeira returns to Brazil as the home crowd favorite, but he faces a tough test in surging up-and-comer Jamahal Hill as championship gold is on the line at UFC 283.

Glover Teixeira’s homecoming could not be happening at a better time in his career, to be quite honest.  A longtime veteran who once struggled to obtain a visa to travel to the United States and join the UFC, Teixeira heads into the fight in Rio de Janeiro as a beloved former champion competing for what could well be his last shot at gold.  His age, 43, is well-documented and the fact that he stepped into the bout rather unexpectedly is not lost on anyone, least of all the Brazilian faithful who will see their soft-spoken ambassador return for the first time in seven years.

But while the crowd will look to push Teixeira into next gear, he must first overcome his share of challenges.  His war with Jiri Prochazka last June took home the Fight of the Year award from most pundits, but such a battle can shorten the career of even a young man.  Though Teixeira held his own, it now remains to be seen if his durability will still be up to his usual standards. To give him confidence, Teixeira has shared the cage with his share of heavy hitters in Thiago Santos, Anthony Smith, and Quinton Jackson and went on to win after absorbing their best blows.  Only two opponents (the late Anthony Johnson in 2016 and Alexander Gustafsson in 2017) have ever stopped him with strikes in the UFC and he is expected to confidently lean on that statistic should he enter the fire again on Saturday.

Jamahal Hill does not enter enemy territory with the vast experience of Teixeira, but he does have the dangerous weapons of confidence and momentum for his first shot at UFC gold.  “Sweet Dreams” began his professional career at 26 years-old in 2017 and got off to a 5-0 start that got him on the radar as one of the top prospects of the higher weight classes.  He made the most of his spot on Dana White’s Contender Series in 2019 by finishing his opponent in the second round to earn a UFC contract.  He quickly followed up the performance victories over Darko Stošić, Klidson Abreu (later overturned,) and former title challenger Ovince Saint Preux.

2021 would see him suffer the first loss of his professional career, against Paul Craig who competes on Saturday’s undercard, but it would also lead to the most crucial run of his career so far.  Hill rattled off consecutive finishes against the likes of Jimmy Crute, Johnny Walker, and Thiago Santos with the latter two coming in main events.  The contender from Grand Rapids was expected to fight in March against Anthony Smith but a draw in the fight for the vacant title last month led to the UFC shuffling the deck and pushing Hill to the front of the line a little sooner than expected.

The bout sees a very interesting stylistic matchup as the taller and younger Hill will be looking to utilize his reach to keep the stockier Teixeira at a distance.  Both men have proven that they have a solid gas tank but the grappling and durability of Teixeira are expected to be the most dangerous weapons in the match.  Should he effectively avoid taking much damage and get on top of Hill throughout the fight, he is expected to cut away at Hill’s gas tank and be ahead on the scorecards. Should Hill be able to get in-and-out efficiently, the fight begins to swing more heavily in his favor.  The biggest question will be how well does Teixeira absorb damage given his age and the fact that this is his first fight since his war with Prochazka last year.

While a fight between Saturday’s winner and Jiri Prochazka would be the most ideal scenario, the recovery necessary for the former champion is expected to keep him out of action for all of 2023.  As such, a fight with Magomed Ankalaev (after taking momentum in the latter part of the draw against Jan Blachowicz) is expected to be next for Teixeira or Hill later in the year with the hope that Prochazka will be on track to then face that winner for the undisputed title in the first half of 2024.

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