A new year is on the horizon, and that means it’s time for Combat Press to take a look back at the best of MMA in 2020. In the coming days, Combat Press will announce its award winners in multiple categories, covering everything from the action in the cage to the biggest stories surrounding the sport.
The titular character of the Rocky franchise, bruised and nearly beaten but far from done. He might be on the ropes, but he manages to find a way to turn the tide and win. The silver screen is not the only place where this scenario plays out. It happens all the time in combat sports. This year, the biggest such comeback fittingly belongs to a man who also served up one of the biggest overall career comebacks of the year: Glover Teixeira.
On Nov. 7 at the UFC Apex in Las Vegas, Teixiera served as the UFC on ESPN 17 headliner opposite fellow Brazilian Thiago Santos. Both men had previously challenged for light-heavyweight gold, but Santos was on the rise and Teixeira, despite a recent beatdown of Anthony Smith that put him on a four-fight winning streak, was considered a moderate underdog. The 41-year-old was also viewed as someone whose age would likely prevent him from making another run at the championship.
In both the first and third frames, Teixeira was rocked by Santos and appeared to be seconds away from suffering a knockout loss. The Brazilian’s wrestling and grappling abilities saved him in both instances, though. In the third round, a big left hand from Santos put Teixeira down. Santos attempted to pounce for the finish, but Teixeira ate his opponent’s big elbows and fought his way to a takedown of his own. From there, he was able to take Santos’ back and secure a rear-naked choke for the submission win.
It was an amazing comeback for Teixeira. Despite nearly getting finished in two of the three stanzas, Teixeira was able to hang in there and turn it around. His tenacity has allowed him to jump to the front of the line to challenge for light-heavyweight gold. His performance is the Combat Press selection for the 2020 Comeback of the Year.
Other Finalists: Trevin Jones vs. Timur Valiev (UFC on ESPN 15)