GLOVER TEIXEIRA is on the cusp of completing a fairytale story by becoming the oldest champion in UFC champion, which began with a danger-filled journey to the United States.
At the tender age of 19, Teixeira – who challenges Jan Blachowicz for the light-heavyweight title at UFC 267 on Saturday night – left his native Brazil in search of a better life.
And entering the USA from the dangerous Mexican border proved to be the first of many battles that would await the 41-year-old.
During an appearance on MMA Fighting’s Trocacao Franca podcast, said of the arduous journey: “It’s tense.
“It took me 43 days to get here. Everybody knows how dangerous it is to cross the Mexican border.
“People die, people get arrested, tortured. So [my mother] was very concerned, but also hopeful that her son was going after his dream, going after a better life.”
Texeira’s life-threatening journey, however, was made easier by the company of his friends and regular evenings drinking alcohol.
He continued: “I was 19, right? I didn’t care. I was drinking every night and getting wasted most of the time.
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“But we went through some scary places. We were on an island in Guatemala with the [natives].
“They were nice people but you could see there was no police there, there was nothing. They treated us really well, but the guides were obviously bribing everybody.
“It’s dangerous. Some of my friends were troublemakers so we kept telling them to keep it cool because we were in a different place.”
Teixeira and his friends eventually made it to Tijuana, where they were forced to wait for the cover of fog to avoid being detected by the US Border Patrol.
He said: “I stayed in Tijuana for eight days, waiting for the fog to come so the helicopter and immigration people wouldn’t see us.
“We had to wait for a strong fog to cross the desert at night.”
The group eventually made it across the border, arriving in San Diego – although they ended up being held captive in a room as the smugglers demanded more cash.
Teixeira was eventually freed and flew up to Boston before settling in Connecticut, where he still resides today.
Not long after settling in the States, Teixeira’s passion for mixed martial arts was further ignited after he watched some old UFC videos.
He was, however, unable to compete in big-name promotions due to his status as an illegal immigrant, which ended in 2011 when he was given an American visa and passport.
Teixeira would eventually make his UFC debut in May 2012, submitting Kyle Kingsbury at UFC 146.
That kicked off a five-fight win streak, which came to an end at the hands of former 205lb king Jon Jones at UFC 172.
Teixeira has had his fair share of ups and downs since losing to Jones, although he’s well and he’s reinvented himself over the last two tears.
A second five-fight win streak has earned him what will likely be a final opportunity to get his hands on UFC gold.
And dethroning the in-form Blachowicz – who is arguably the most underrated champion on the UFC roster – would be one hell of a way for the gentle bruiser to cap off his Hollywood story.
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