Glover Teixeira knows he can’t fight forever, but that doesn’t mean he’s putting an expiration date on his career.
Ahead of his first title defense as light heavyweight champion at UFC 275, the 42-year-old Brazilian said recently that his “perfect plan” would be to defeat Jiri Prochazka on June 11 and then have a retirement fight at Madison Square Garden in New York City later this year.
While there’s a chance that’s exactly how things play out, Teixeira clarified his statement on The MMA Hour and addressed how much time he has left in the sport.
“Listen, I didn’t say that for sure,” Teixeira said. “If there’s a perfect [plan], it would be that if I win this fight – of course I am confident, but the thing is when you guys ask me a question way before I get into camp, it’s almost like, maybe I’ll fight one more time. But when I’m camp right now, I’m a lion. You’ve got to come see my training. Then you’ll see, and you’re probably not even going to ask that question about retirement. Because the way I’ve been training, the way I’ve been feeling, the way camp is going lately, I’m so happy about everything.
“Eventually, I do want to retire. I said the perfect scenario is me beating this guy in Singapore and hopefully fight Jan [Blachowicz] at Madison Square Garden in November and then call it a day. But I don’t want to make a decision like that. I think that’s a possibility, but I don’t want to [say], ‘Oh I’m going to retire this year, or a couple more fights,’ or this and that.”
The biggest issue for Teixeira is making a declaration that he’s going to retire, only to change his mind, whether it’s after a fight or a few months down the road. He looks at Olympic gold medalist and former two-division UFC champion Henry Cejudo as a perfect example when it comes how he doesn’t want to handle the end of his career.
“I don’t want to make a call and be desperate later,” Teixeira explained. “I even mentioned Henry Cejudo. Nothing against the guy, I love the kid, but you see him retired [and] he knows he wants to come back. He knows he has more. I don’t want to make this decision like that, but it would be a possibility, yeah.”
Teixeira’s motivation right now is on the competition itself rather than some financial obligation to stick around because he’s making championship money. While a hefty paycheck is never a bad thing, he promises that hasn’t been a driving force in a long time, which is why he’s able to make a clear-headed decision about something as monumental as retirement.
“I’m not doing it for the money,” he said. “I did it for the championship. Like I keep saying to people, we worked so hard in our life fighting for nothing, but now we’re making good money, and stepping away [is hard]. You’ve got to look around. Why is my life better? Why do I need more?
“It’s definitely not for the money. I’m fighting right now because I’m the champion – I want to defend this title.”
At some point, Teixeira knows he’ll have to stop. Because he’s been around the sport for such a long time, he’s seen first-hand how some fighters stick around way too long. It damages them physically and mentally, not to mention what it does to their legacy. That’s why he dreams about going out on top.
But more than anything, retirement always comes down to the right timing.
“I love the fight, I love the game,” Teixeira said. “I love the camp life to be preparing for a fight, but I’m also 42 going on 43. It’s time to start thinking about it. I want to retire from the sport, I don’t want the sport to retire me.
“You see Khabib [Nurmagomedov], I take my hat off to Khabib when he retired on top. There’s no motivation by money. He’s making $10, $20 million, they offer him so much money, but he’s not going back. He’s done. He doesn’t want to do it anymore. That’s going to be me. The day that I don’t want to do it anymore [I will retire]. The day that I don’t want to get myself going is the time that I’m going to be done.”