The story of the day in the world of mixed martial arts is without question Wednesday’s wild UFC 202 pre-fight press conference. It ended prematurely after Nate Diaz and Conor McGregor erupted in a profanity-laced water bottle-heaving hullabaloo.
But unlike the two stars of UFC 202 (live odds), co-feature fighters Anthony Johnson and Glover Teixeira didn’t find it necessary to disparage one another and they most certainly didn’t see a need to turn H2O into projectiles. The two will square off in a pivotal matchup that will likely award the winner with a shot at champion Daniel Cormier’s title.
“Daniel Cormier is the champion so that’s why I ask to fight Anthony Johnson first,” Teixeira told the assembled media on Wednesday. “He’s the No. 1 contender and I have to beat him so I can fight for the title. After this fight, I will fight for the title. Cormier is already saying that the winner of this fight will fight for the title. What’s going on with Jon Jones, I don’t really care.”
Johnson agreed with the press after getting asked a similar question.
“Hopefully I get Daniel (next),” Johnson stated. “Jon has other people to worry about other than (Cormier). But before I get Daniel, I got to get past this beast sitting here to my left in Glover Teixeira. I can’t look past him.”
One of the things going into the matchup is how Teixeira will be able to deal with the vicious power that “Rumble” has in his fists. He’s aware of that dynamite but the Brazilian is confident in his abilities as a striker as well. But one thing Teixeira is banking on, though, is that the fans will get their money’s worth.
“I have to be very aware of (his power),” Teixeira commented. “This fight is going to be a very exciting fight. It could be the fight of the night or the quickest fight of the night. We don’t need to be here talking shit (to each other) to promote this fight. We go in there and throw bombs and that’s how this fight will go down. I can’t get caught with one of his punches; I got to be quicker and faster and better.”
Obviously the MMA world isn’t just about striking and Teixeira says he will be more than happy to drag Johnson down into deep waters if needed.
“Well I prepare for everything,” Teixeira stated. “I know Anthony has great wrestling and I have some good wrestling as well. We’ll see how the fight goes. I’ve been in this sport for a while. If he leaves me an opening I will try and take him down and he will do the same to me. This is an MMA fight and this is what makes this sport so exciting. You have to train in everything. I am ready.”
The fight, on paper, appears to be a toss-up as to whom will have his hand raised. And just before “Rumble” scolded the assembled press to stop asking him about Cormier and Jones -- and moments before McGregor and Diaz engaged in their wild near-riot, Johnson said that aside from his power, the two are on an equal playing field.
“I think I have the (power) advantage but other than that I think the fight is equal,” Johnson said. “Glover is strong, I’m strong and we’ll what happens. It’s who makes the least amount of mistakes that will win this.”
UFC President Dana White didn’t outwardly commit to stating that the winner of Johnson-Teixeira will be next in line to fight Cormier for his 205-pound title but he did appear to be leaning that way. Everything at light heavyweight, it still seems, hinges on when Jones will return to action.