A promotion that appears to be in disarray kicks off its major event schedule for 2023 on Saturday night with UFC 283 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
Over the span of the past several months, a betting scandal has emerged and since widened in scope; UFC president Dana White was caught on camera slapping his wife during an argument on New Year’s Eve in Mexico; and last week, Francis Ngannou, the world’s top heavyweight by a wide margin, entered free agency while still UFC champion after a contract impasse.
And that’s not the only title vacancy in the UFC. The other is in the light heavyweight division, and the promotion will make its second attempt to fill the void in as many months when former titleholder Glover Teixeira (33-8) of Danbury, Conn., by way of Brazil takes on Jamahal Hill (11-1, 1 NC) of Grand Rapids, Mich. in the UFC 283’s main event.
Teixeira held the title until last June, when he lost to Jiri Prochazka in a thrilling matchup at UFC 275. The duo was scheduled to rematch at UFC 282, but two weeks out, Prochazka tore his shoulder in training so badly he voluntarily relinquished the title. Offered rising star Magomed Ankalaev as an alternate opponent at UFC 282, Teixeira declined, so Ankalaev fought another former champion, Jan Blachowicz, for the title.
That matchup ended in a fiasco. After Ankalaev clearly earned the nod, it was called a split draw in a ruling widely ridiculed as being among the worst judging decisions in MMA history.
That left the championship vacant, and White didn’t want to wait around for the previous competitors, so Teixeira has a shot at the title after all, and in his homeland of Brazil, to boot.
Although he is 43 years old, the jiu-jitsu specialist has proven an ageless wonder. Prior to the Prochazka loss, he won six consecutive fights, four of them coming by way of submission.
The big question going into the bout is whether Teixeira will be able to avoid the fists of knockout artist Hill and get the fight to the ground. The latter brings a three-fight winning streak into the bout. All three came by way of knockout or TKO, two of them in the opening round.
–Field Level Media