Chuck Liddell, Randy Couture, Tito Ortiz, Matt Hughes, Frank Mir, B.J. Penn, Gleison Tibau—one of these things is not like the other.
Six of the seven fighters mentioned above have held UFC titles at one point or another, but it may be the lone non-champion on the list, Tibau, who will have the last laugh according to the promotional record books.
“I’m second. I just see in front of me Tito Ortiz with 27 [appearances],” explains Tibau prior to his UFC 184 bout with Tony Ferguson. “I already passed all the others. To me it’s very rewarding to have my name in the history of the UFC.”
When Tibau enters the Octagon to kick off Saturday night’s main card, it will be the 25th occasion on which he has done so, tying him with Matt Hughes for second place all time. And while Tibau has amassed an impressive 16 UFC wins (tied for fourth all time) during his 8-plus years with the promotion, he remains focused on cementing his legacy as the company’s most durable athlete.
“I have my eyes on twenty-fifteen… my camp was amazing and I just want to be healthy and not have any injuries so I just get back in action soon,” comments Tibau. “I’m healthier than ever, more focused than ever, and the record’s gonna go down this year for sure.”
Tibau’s longevity has been miraculous. Having only been stopped once in the last seven years, suffering a knockout loss at the hands of sixth-ranked Michael Johnson at UFC 168, Tibau has managed to avoid serious injury and accept short-notice bouts.
Coming off a split decision win over Norman Park just six weeks ago, Tibau escaped unscathed. And when Ferguson’s initial opponent, Yancy Medeiros, withdrew from the contest just three weeks prior to the event, Tibau was ready to fill in.
“Since a young age I’m always taking care of myself. I do therapy, massage, chiropractor. I train the right way; I don’t do anything stupid at the gym,” states Tibau. “I eat healthy even when I’m not in camp and that helps me a lot to be almost 10 years in the UFC. I want to keep another 10 [years].”
Fighter health has been a big discussion over the last week, with California State Athletic Commissioner Andy Foster publicly addressing the dangers of cutting weight. So it’s surprising that Tibau has maintained such an exceptional longevity, given that he is known to cut upwards of 25 pounds to make the lightweight limit.
“It’s not easy you know. It’s getting better and better but it’s not easy,” offers Tibau. “I have my doctor. I have a nutritionist. I have my trainers. Everybody helps me out with that; it’s a lot of weight, but the way I do it is healthy.”
Doctors and medical professionals will ultimately be the ones to determine if Tibau’s weight cutting measures and methods fall under healthy practice, but it’s tough to argue with the results. And while Tibau did miss weight on one occasion, tipping the scales at 157 pounds for his UFC 104 bout with Josh Neer, he solved any previous cutting issues more than five years ago, something he credits to his team.
“American Top Team… it’s such a huge support that I have,” adds Tibau. “American Top Team helps me out a lot with the whole support… to me it’s my family.”
So win or lose to Ferguson on Saturday, Tibau has already won by simply stepping foot inside the Octagon. Now let’s wait and see if and when he can pass Ortiz for the all-time record.
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