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PREVIEW: UFC 267 Prelims/Main Card

UFC 267 takes place on Saturday at the Etihad Arena in Abu Dhabi

UFC

UFC 267 takes place on Saturday, October 30 at the Etihad Arena in Abu Dhabi, and the much-anticipated card features two championship fights and a host of intriguing matchups.

Two women looking excitedly at cellphone

Main Card

Main event – Jan Blachowicz 3/10 vs Glover Teixeira 22/10 (Light Heavyweight)

In the main event, Jan Blachowicz (28-8) will defend his UFC light heavyweight title against No. 1-ranked and former 205-pound title challenger Glover Teixeira (32-7).

Both men are riding lengthy win streaks in the promotion, making this a must-see bout for any UFC fan. They both have a tremendous amount of experience and have overcome doubt and obstacles en route to this moment.

Blachowicz shocked the world at UFC 253 on Fight Island when he stopped Dominick Reyes in the second round to capture the light heavyweight strap that Jon Jones vacated. Then in his first title defence at UFC 259, the Polish powerhouse upset the odds once again with a unanimous decision victory over middleweight king Israel Adesanya back in March.

This time Blachowicz heads into the octagon as a heavy favourite to continue his impressive winning streak. The Polish star has won nine of his last 10 fights and goes into this on a five-fight win streak. Prior to wins over Reyes and Adesanya, the 38-year-old also defeated Corey Anderson, Ronaldo Souza and Luke Rockhold.

Teixeira, however, is also on a five-fight win streak, the second five-fight win streak of his UFC career. Since 2019, the 42-year-old has beaten Karl Roberson, Ion Cutelaba, Nikita Krylov, Anthony Smith and Thiago Santos on his way to earning this title shot.

Despite his age, Teixeira is extremely dangerous with heavy hands and an exceptional ground game; Blachowicz will need to put in a world class performance to retain his belt.

Prediction

For Teixeira, losing this fight would be a real nightmare for him considering time isn’t on his side at his age. While we’d love to see the Brazilian fulfil his lifelong ambition of becoming UFC champion, our money is on Blachowicz here. The Polish powerhouse is in the prime of his fighting life, as emphasized by his recent win over the established kingpin Adesanya. Whether it’s submission, technical knockout, knockout or judges’ decision, Blachowicz gets his arm raised with the light heavyweight title wrapped around his waist.

Co-main – Petr Yan 41/100 vs Cory Sandhagen 17/10 (Bantamweight)

In the co-main event, former champ Petr Yan (15-2) and fan-favourite striking star Cory Sandhagen (14-3) take the octagon to fight it out for the interim bantamweight strap, with the winner to face Aljamain Sterling for the unified championship. While Yan is seen as the uncrowned king, Sandhagen carries the potential to return good value at his price tag.

They are both coming off losses on their records but these did not diminish their stock one bit. Although Sterling wears the bantamweight belt, many UFC fans believe that Yan and Sandhagen are the hottest fighters in the division.

Yan looks to reclaim gold after losing his title via DQ earlier this year. Prior to that, the Russian was on a seven-fight win streak with knockouts against Jose Aldo and Utijah Faber, plus a couple of notable unanimous decision wins against Jimmie Rivera and John Dodson.

As for his opponent, Sandhagen comes into the fight off a razor-thin decision loss to TJ Dillashaw at UFC Fight Night. Before that fight though, he made his way up the division with some incredible knockouts on Frankie Edgar and Marlon Moraes which earned him his shot at the interim title.

Sandhagen is one of the most lethal strikers in the 135-pound division, but he’ll have to deliver the performance of his lifetime in order to beat “No Mercy” who is widely regarded as one of the finest bantamweight fighters in the UFC’s history.

Prediction

With both fighters coming off of (unfair) losses, both of them will be eager to break into the win column once again. Although it will be a close contest, we expect Yan to prove he is still the best at 135lbs and score a decision victory.

Lightweight – Islam Makhachev 1/7 vs Dan Hooker 39/10

The people’s main event! An absolute cracker in the lightweight division sees Dan Hooker (21-10) come in on short notice to face arguably the most feared fighter of the division Islam Makhachev (20-1). The Khabib Nurmagomedov protégé who is regarded by many the UFC lightweight champion to be without question faces his biggest challenge to date when he looks to grind out another win over The Hangman.

Dan “The Hangman” Hooker has all the pedigree coming into his matchup, all the respect, and most importantly, according to him all the money for taking such a difficult fight on short notice. Dan fought just five weeks ago with a solid and utterly dominating performance against Nasrat Haqparast on the UFC 266 card. Before bouncing back, Dan faltered against UFC debutant Michael Chandler and went to war with Dustin Poirier who now fights for the title in December. Hooker has fought the who’s who of the division but has not triumphed over all and seemingly falls into a gatekeeper role.

The power of the maul game crown has been passed on and Makhachev wears that crown proudly for Dagestan Russia which is the breeding grounds for elite grapplers and team AKA out of San Jose California which finetunes and works as the testing ground for these fighters. Makhachev’s only loss in professional MMA came in his second fight in the UFC to Adriano Martins via a devasting first round knockout in which Islam overextended himself trying to close the distance. Since then, Makhachev has gone on an eight-fight win streak, defeating Arman Tsarukyan, Drew Dober and Thiago Moises in his last three. He was set to fight ex lightweight champion Rafael dos Anjos, but the Brazilian pulled out and, in my opinion, fights the tougher fight in Hooker.

Prediction

Hooker is not afraid of a blood and guts all-out war, but this will not be that. Hooker needs to be smart; he needs to be on his toes and be really careful in what shots he decides to use. However, like the tide, Makhachev’s take down is inevitable. While his striking on the feet is better than that of Khabib’s, Islam will be wiser. The ground and pound of Makhachev is not as aggressive and heat seeking as his predecessor, but the technique on the ground will drown Hooker and there is no other bet than on the style of Dagestan.

Heavyweight – Alexander Volkov 3/10 vs Marcin Tybura 22/10

This will certainly be an exciting heavyweight matchup between Alexander Volkov (33-9) and Marcin Tybura (22-6).

After losing to Ciryl Gane at UFC Vegas 30 via unanimous decision, Volkov will be looking to get back on the winning path. Prior to the fight, “Drago” was on a two-fight win streak with victories over Walt Harris and Alistair Overeem. The former M-1 Global and Bellator heavyweight champion holds a record of 7-3 inside UFC since making his promotional debut in 2016.

Tybura, on the other hand, began his UFC career with a 4-5 record in his first nine fights. But he has since found his footing, going on an impressive five-fight win streak with wins over Walt Harris, Greg Hardy and Ben Rothwell among others. The Polish prospect will look to continue his winning streak against Volkov and move up the rankings to fight for the title.

Prediction

Riding a five-fight win streak, Tybura enters the octagon confident of getting his arm raised and move closer to getting a title shot. However, Volkov is still in the top five of the heavyweight rankings and has a big opportunity to put himself back into the title hunt. With that said, we feel Volkov will be winning this one, but for his price, Tybura might be worth having a punt on.

Welterweight – Li Jingliang 36/10 vs Khamzat Chimaev 1/6

The man is back! After a major UFC breakout in 2020, winning three fights via stoppage in over just two months, Khamzat Chimaev (9-0) was scheduled to make his fourth appearance that year against Leon Edwards, but unfortunately succumbed to Covid-19 and has been out ever since. His opponent Li Jingliang (18-6) is one of China’s elites and comes off the back of a stunning knockout.

The face of ‘Smesh’ Khamzat “Borz” Chimaev makes his return and I couldn’t be any more excited. This time he faces a ranked opponent and really tests himself against a heavy hitter. His last fight was a destructive win over Gerald Meerschaert with a straight right cross on the 17th second of round one. He hasn’t had the opportunity to stay in the octagon for more than two rounds in the UFC or his MMA career on a whole, and says he yearns for an opponent to push him and what he believes his limits are. Predominantly a wrestler, with a recent upgrade in jiujitsu to his blue belt and proven knockout power on the feet, the Czechia fighter is always looking to put constant forward pressure.

Li “The Leech” Jingliang has been a staple in the UFC, spending more than half his career in the world’s elite promotion. But unable to put a good run of fights together, with his longest being a four-fight win streak back in 2017. The 33-year-old has just recently broken into the welterweight rankings, and a win over the hottest prospect of the division could prove key in a title run for Li. Jingliang is strongly based in a traditional Chinese fighting style called Sanda and is a striker by nature, but he does enjoy fighting in close clinch style quarters where he can utilize his well-oiled and timed left hook.

Prediction

The expectations of Khamzat Chimaev are huge, he has consistently made his fights look easy. On the other hand, there is Li Jingliang who doesn’t mind eating a shot to give one, which could prove fatal for the number 11 ranked UFC welterweight if he relies on his durability. A left hook is a great counter for a forward pressing fighter, but Chimaev will be all too clever for that. We expect Khamzat to take Li down and control him if he doesn’t drop him with one of his powerful entry punches. It will not be an easy fight as Li is not easily discouraged, but there is no other ending than with Chimaev’s hand raised at the end.

Light Heavyweight – Magomed Ankalaev 31/100 vs Volkan Oezdemir 43/20

Opening up the main card is a light heavyweight clash between two eastern European powerhouses. Magomed Ankalaev (15-1) makes his eighth UFC appearance when he gets locked in the cage with the Swiss, Volkan Oezdemir. It is number seven ranked battling it out with the number eight ranked, with the hopes of taking their MMA journey closer to the belt. It all is perfect timing to say the least when the belt for the light heavyweight division will be contested for in the main event of the evening.

In the blue corner is an unfortunate fighter in Volkan “No Time” Oezdemir who has lost four of his last six. Why I say unfortunate is because of the opponents he has come up against. Oezdemir hasn’t had the ‘stat padded’ run of his opponent, losing to Daniel Cormer, Anthony Smith, Dominick Reyes and Jiri Prochazka in his last bout who he had wobbled and backing up to the fence in the first round. His two wins were a bounce back round two picture-perfect left hook over Ilir Latifi and a split decision win over the current number three ranked Aleksandar Rakic.

His debut in the UFC and only loss of his career was at the hands of Paul Craig in 2018, Ankalaev has since turned on the heat in the UFC, currently riding a six-fight winning streak with two first round finishes over Ion Cutelaba when the first fight was deemed controversial, followed by a unanimous decision victory over Nikita Krylov in the beginning of this year.

Prediction

All the hype is on Ankalaev here, and rightfully so, he is on a great winning streak and the confidence is fully in his corner. He is calling for a title shot after this fight, but I don’t believe he will get it with a few great fighters still ahead of him. Magomed believes his opponent doesn’t have the speed in the striking department to deal with what he brings to the table. With that being said, if there is an upset of the night, this is the one, and I will gladly throw a few coins in the way of Oezdemir as he has the power in his hands and knows he can catch Magomed when he enters into his range.

Full card predictions:

Main Card: 20:00 CAT, Saturday 30 October

  • Jan Blachowicz (c) vs Glover Teixeira: Blachowicz to win by KO, TKO, DQ or SUB. (19/20)
  • Petr Jan vs Cory Sandhagen: Yan to win by decision or technical decision (15/10)
  • Islam Makhachev vs Dan Hooker: Makhachev (1/7)
  • Alexander Volkov vs Marcin Tybura: Volkov (3/10)
  • Li Jingliang vs Khamzat Chimaev: Chimaev (1/6)
  • Magomed Ankalaev vs Volkan Oezdemir: Oezdemir (43/20)

Prelims: 16:30 CAT

  • Amanda Ribas (56/100) vs Virna Jandiroba (5/4): Jandiroba
  • Ricardo Ramos (13/10) vs Zubaira Tukhugov (54/100): Tukhugov
  • Albert Duraev (26/100) vs Roman Kopylov (5/2): Duraev
  • Elizeu Zaleski (4/10) vs Benoit Saint-Denis (7/4): Saint-Denis
  • Shamil Gamzatov (76/100) vs Michal Oleksiejczuk (19/20): Gamzatov
  • Makwan Amirkhani (23/10) vs Lerone Murphy (29/100): Murphy
  • Yaozong Hu (18/10) vs Andre Petroski (38/100): Petroski
  • Tagir Ulanbekov (24/100) vs Allan Nascimento (26/100): Ulanbekov

Previewed by Chad Nagel and Joshua Gaillard

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