In the gym with UFC light heavyweight champion Glover Teixeira ahead of his title defense at UFC 275.
Danbury, CT — Nestled on a quiet country road lined with large trees and small businesses sits Teixeira MMA & Fitness, the home gym to UFC light heavyweight champion Glover Teixeira. Typically, UFC champions train in private, under lock and key away from watchful eyes and potential spies. They close their sessions, even to many of their own gym members, to give sole focus to the man or woman with the strap.
Glover is not like other UFC champs.
Not only does he open his gym up to a member of MMA media with a camera and a platform (me), but he continues to coach everyone in the gym, well into his own title defense preparation.
On day one of my visit, Glover tells me he hates doing interviews but hates canceling them even more, which immediately put me at ease. He was just as nervous as me.
I observed and photographed several training sessions while I was in town, everything from strength and conditioning to grappling to sparring. Each and every day, Glover gave me full reign to document everything – another thing typically not done for UFC champions.
“Glover is humble: he became champ at this age, and we don’t go around like he’s champion. Nothing has changed. He gives 100 percent of himself. He’s easy,” says his coach Fernely Feliz Sr., who popped in to hold pads before Glover left town to make an appearance at an LFA fight.
“Humble” is the word I would use to describe Glover. Despite having a UFC title, he still works and acts like the same fighter he has been throughout his career. After all, that’s what got him where he’s at.
“Normal camp is doing what I like to do,” Glover tells me. “I do what I love to do, and I’m not going to change. It doesn’t matter if it’s a title fight or if it was a title defense with the title. It doesn’t matter because I trained the same way [as] those guys that train amateurs. I tell them the same mentality. Same way. Of course, I train less now that I trained before when I was fighting smaller shows or even UFC when I first started because of the age and the knowledge, but same thing. I don’t [stress]. I just do what I love to do.”
Glover Teixeira says teaching his secrets forces him ‘to improve my game’
While enjoying a meal after training, Glover tells me the story of a businessman sitting in his cushy corner office hoarding all the secrets he’s learned throughout his career, terrified to lose his footing at the top. He says this is wrong: that man will never know he is truly the best at what he’s done because there’s never been anyone to challenge him to be better. This is Glover’s reason for remaining a steadfast coach. His students getting better forces him to get better.
“I think all teachers … that’s the way they should be,” he said. “You know, you got to teach the students so they can be good at defending. You teach them the philosophy, the way to eat good, the way to get stronger, the way to defend all the techniques, especially my favorite techniques. It’s so funny because my favorite techniques, that’s the ones I teach the most. The defense for that, because now I have to do something else because they know how to do it; they know how to defend, and I have to improve my game.”
Glover continued, “A lot of people… they are selfish, and I have seen this before. They don’t share everything because they’re like ‘If I train you guys, you’re gonna maybe eventually want to fight me,’ you know? We never know… like you’ll see this in a big team. But for me, I don’t know. I just got to improve and prove it. I’ve been doing it since I fought Jon Jones. I opened my gym. My coach, my fight team came here and help me out and we got a system, you know.”
But remaining a coach while also still competing at a high level has its downsides, too. Coaches will hold students’ losses to heart, and the stress of cornering can be too much for someone who also has to deal with their own fight stress.
But not Glover.
“I don’t stress about it,” he said. “In the beginning, I was having problems [coaching and training] with my students fighting, as I was getting too nervous, too anxious. And when they lose, I hurt so much. And I feel so bad. But I’ll work on that because that’s something that I work on in fighting. I don’t get too upset. The highest I have been is in a fight, and the lowest I’ve been is in a fight. But I don’t get [too emotional]. I don’t let that carry me for a long time, you know. What is done is done.”
Glover will step in to defend his light heavyweight title and work towards becoming the oldest reigning champion in UFC history. But history aside, there’s also retirement talk looming, depending on the outcome of his UFC 275 bout.
“Either way, I’m gonna be good,” Glover said. “But I’m gonna try this. If I make it, I make it. I already made it. I was there. I already went to the UFC. I fought everybody and I had a title fight, so you know, it was good, man. I was so happy to be in UFC, and then after I had been in the UFC, like, I opened a gym, and it’s like, ‘I’m gonna try this.’ We’re gonna teach my fight team and now people start coming and all these UFC fighters started to come down and train with us because they saw it. They see the results and keep doing the same thing. I love it.”
Glover will face Jiří Procházka on Saturday, June 11, 2022, live from the Singapore Indoor Stadium in Singapore.