Tag Archives: Dan Hooker

Dan Hooker looking to move back to Featherweight

Dan Hooker has revealed that he is planning to move back down to featherweight after a test run to make weight.

Hooker is currently a top-ten ranked lightweight contender but has last three of his last four bouts in the division after initially going on a run at 155lbs.

‘Hangman’ has previously competed at 145lbs but moved up after suffering defeats to Yair Rodriguez and Jason Knight. He eventually went on a run of seven wins in eight bouts at lightweight, before his most recent run of results.



After wins against all of Ross Pearson, Marc Diakiese, Jim Miller and Gilbert Burns he was defeated by Edson Barboza in 2018. He bounced back from that with wins over James Vick, Al Iaquinta and Paul Felder to enter the top five of the division.

However against the top fighters in the division Hooker has struggled, suffering a decision defeat to Dustin Poirier at UFC Vegas 4 before a first-round KO defeat to Michael Chandler at UFC 257.

He returned to winning ways against Nasrat Haqparast via decision at UFC 266, but took a short-notice bout against Islam Makhachev at UFC 267 and was dominated en route to a first-round submission defeat.

Those defeats have seemingly convinced him to take a look back down at 145lbs, as he revealed in a tweet that he had made the 146lbs limit during a test cut.

The move down to 145lbs could set up a number of top fights for the primary striker with the likes of Max Holloway, Yair Rodriguez, Korean Zombie, Brian Ortega and Calvin Kattar making up the top five behind current champion and teammate Alexander Volkanovski.

Hooker would likely enter against one of those top opponents should he make the final decision to move down in weight again, considering his current ranking in the weight class above.

Holloway looks certain to take on Volkanovski in his next bout for their trilogy title fight, while Ortega and Yair Rodriguez could be matched up having both suffered defeat in amazing bouts against the two top guys in their last outings.

Kattar is scheduled to fight Giga Chikhadze in January, so it’s possible that Hooker could re-debut in the division against the Korean Zombie, who was well beaten by Ortega before dominating Dan Ige last time out. Arnold Allen would also offer up a potential opponent.

2022 looks set to be the start of a new chapter for ‘Hangman’, and one that could have title implications for the New Zealander.

UFC 267: Blachowicz vs Teixeira – Results (Highlights)

EARLY PRELIMS

Tagir Ulanbekov def Allan Nascimento via Split Decision (28-29, 29-28, 29-28)

A couple of hard low kicks early from Nascimento to start the fight, but Ulanbekov taking the centre and flicking his jab out nicely. Another nice leg kick from Nascimento and then he follows that up with a nice right hand. Flying knee attempt just misses but Ulanbekov grabs a body lock and takes the fight to the ground immediately. Nascimento defending really well on the ground and threatening with an armbar, then sweeps to the top but Ulanbekov immediately gets up and tries to get the fight back down against the cage. Ulanbekov battling against submission attempts and ends up in a mounted guillotine and it’s tight! Nascimento fighting it and eventually pops his head out to survive! Amazing! Ulanbekov gets back to top position and is resting in a controlling position, with Nascimento threatening with a guillotine of his own. He now moves to a kimura trap to try and get to his feet but the round ends. Great round. 10-9 Ulanbekov for me.

Good start to the round again from Ulanbekov with his jab landing well, before he shoots in deep for a takedown. Nascimento defends it well against the cage but eventually Ulanbekov is able to change levels and get the fight down. Nascimento threatening with a kimura from the bottom, but Ulanbekov defending it well and eventually gets back into full guard without the threat. Nascimento being very active off his back, but Ulanbekov trying to stifle him from the top to control him. Nascimento tries for a triangle but Ulanbekov deals with it easily, before Nascimento lands a huge elbow from the bottom. Nascimento goes for an armbar and starts smashing him with elbows from the bottom to see out the round. Close, but I edge to Nascimento there for attacking more despite being on the bottom. 19-19.

Big knee attempt from Nascimento early on but Ulanbekov gets the fight to ground once again immediately. Nascimento went for a kimura trap immediately and swept him to get on top but once against Ulanbekov raced to the next position to maintain control. Ulanbekov in full guard just stalling and looking for a bit of ground and pound, but Nascimento seems happy enough on his back to look for submissions. Ulanbekov trying to pass guard but Nascimento is looking to make him defend as much as possible. He finally passes into half guard now and starts looking for some short elbows from the top. Big left hand lands but Nascimento still being active and trying to sweep him. Final minute and Nascimento goes for another kimura, but Ulanbekov defends it excellently again. Nascimento goes for a triangle armbar but Ulanbekov defends it and ends the round with some big ground shots to likely claim a win. 29-28 Ulanbekov.

Andre Petroski def Hu Yaozong via Submission (Arm Triangle Choke), Round 3 (4:46)

Lots of feinting early on from both guys, before Petroski flies in with a big left hand that just misses. Petroski lands two big left hands and then Yaozong goes for a head-kick that gets blocked and he ends up on his back. Petroski goes straight for the neck and jumps on a mounted guillotine but it’s not quite in yet. He lets go and takes the back, rains down some big ground and pound. He goes for the rear-naked choke and it’s tight but Yaozong explodes out and Petroski goes for a d’arce but Yaozong gets back to his feet. Petroski lands a big left hand again but Yaozong is still coming forward. Petroski throws two big strikes that lands clean but Yaozong eats it. Three huge left hooks land from Petroski but Yaozong is still standing and Petroski is exhausted. Single leg takedown from Petroski but Yaozong gets straight back up and keeps coming forward. One more left hand lands for good measure as the round ends. Crazy round. 10-9 Petroski.

Immediate takedown from Petroski and he goes for a guillotine again, but Yaozong scrambles out quickly and gets back to his feet. Petroski lands a huge left hand and then a couple more, before another takedown where he now looks to control the position. Another attempted guillotine from Petroski before he looks to control again. Petroski moves to side control and looks for a head-and-arm choke but Yaozong grabs his own leg to defend it. Petroski looks to move to his back but Yaozong defends it again, but Petroski is controlling him much better now. Petroski moves into full mount and then goes for the head-and-arm choke again, but once again Yaozong defends it. Yaozong gets back to his feet but Petroski keeps a body lock and takes him down once again. Petroski flows on the mat and takes Yaozong’s back again and is looking for a rear-naked choke. Petroski controls until the buzzer goes. 20-18 Petroski.

Petroski lands a big left hand as Yaozong pressures him to the cage early in the final round, but Petroski shoots for a takedown and then runs him the entire way across before getting him down. Petroski takes control and looks to move to his back, then lands a few big ground strikes before pulling Yaozong backwards onto the mat. Petroski flowing well and looks for a guillotine, before Yaozong gets back to his feet. Yaozong sprawls and slips and then Petroski lands a huge one-two Douglas Lima style. Petroski gets another takedown and ends up in full mount, landing big elbows but Yaozong refusing to give up. Another huge elbow from Petroski and he works to control again. Petroski moves to side control and locks up a head-and-arm choke once again and forces the tap with 15 seconds left! Great win from Petroski.

Lerone Murphy def Makwan Amirkhani via Knockout, Round 2 (0:14)

Early takedown in the opening round from Amirkhani as soon as Murphy switches to an orthodox stance. Amirkhani controlling him against the cage and looking to advance to three-quarter mount, but Murphy doing relatively well to defend so far. Amirkhani keeping the body lock tight and Murphy is trying hard to break the lock, but Amirkhani keeping it tight and keeping the fight as grappling heavy as possible as we enter the final minute. Amirkhani completely controlling the action through the first five minutes as the buzzer goes. 10-9 Amirkhani.

Amirkhani goes for an early takedown as soon as Murphy switches to orthodox again but Murphy blasts a HUGE knee and Amirkhani is out!!! Oh my word what a KO!!

PRELIMS

Michal Oleksiejczuk def Shamil Gamzatov via Knockout, Round 1 (3:31)

Great first round from Oleksiejczuk who keeps the fight standing for the most part, before landing a crisp right uppercut that puts Gamzatov down. He follows it up with some big ground and pound and that’s all she wrote!



Elizeu Zaleski dos Santos def Benoit Saint-Denis via Unanimous Decision (29-26 x3)

Saint-Denis opens with a body kick, then Zaleski lands a nice one-two. Nice body kicks from Zaleski and some hard low kicks, but Saint-Denis coming forward still and then creates an angle for a takedown and slams Zaleski down. Zaleski gets back up relatively easily though and lands another hard low kick. Saint-Denis ripping some strong kicks to the body, but Zaleski responding with leg kicks. Big exchange of punches and Zaleski lands a hard right hand that rocks him, but Saint-Denis shoots in for a double leg to buy himself some time. Zaleski gets back up again quickly and continues to chop the lead leg. Level change from Saint-Denis but Zaleski keeps it standing, then just slips a big uppercut. Great round, 10-9 Zaleski for me.

Fast flurry of strikes between the two leads to Zaleski landing a big counter-right hand. Saint-Denis keeps coming and eats another huge right hand and then Zaleski lands a flush knee to the head. Saint-Denis is badly hurt but Zaleski keeps coming forward and landing big strikes. Saint-Denis won’t go down but Zaleski is pouring it on! Huge strikes and another big right hand and Saint-Denis is just refusing to go down. Zaleski is battering him and the entire arena is screaming for the referee to stop the fight but he won’t. Zaleski is lighting him up but he won’t go down and then he shoots for a takedown. Somehow, the round goes the full five minutes. Unreal. 20-17 at least.

Somehow they come out for the final round and Zaleski lands a hard low kick. Accidental eye poke from Zaleski causes a pause of the action. Saint-Denis tells the referee he can’t see , but the referee restarts the fight anyway without bringing in a doctor??? Zaleski lands a right hand that wobbles Saint-Denis, who shoots for a takedown that gets sprawled. Zaleski sitting on the top in full guard before they get back to the feet. Head-kick from Saint-Denis is blocked and Zaleski comes forward again with a right hand. Big left hand from Saint-Denis lands before a takedown attempt, but Zaleski is able to scramble to switch the position and then get back up. Final minute now and there’s an accidental low blow by Zaleski to cause another pause in the action. The referee takes a point away from Zaleski (???) who now steps forward with some more aggression. Round comes to an end with Zaleski chasing Saint-Denis down, but that should be that. 29-26.

Albert Duraev def Roman Kopylov via Unanimous Decision (30-27, 29-27 x2)

Kopylov starting off confidently in the centre, landing hard low kicks and one that even drops Duraev momentarily. Duraev explodes with a one-two and then a leg kick of his own. Duraev lands a right hand down the middle, then lands a low kick and left-hook combo that stuns Kopylov. Another hard leg kick from Duraev as he starts to pressure Kopylov back against the cage. Big elbow strike lands but Kopylov is giving as good as he’s taking so far. Duraev currently just too quick for Kopylov at the moment, but no great damage being done. Kopylov catches a high kick and lands a few uppercuts before they separate and Duraev goes for some more jabs. 10-9 Duraev at the end of the first.

Kopylov lands a big left hand early in the second and drops Duraev! Duraev manages to survive with good movement and then shoots in for a takedown against the cage. Duraev goes for a takedown and Kopylov grabs the fence to deny it! The referee stops the action, gives a hard warning and resets them which allows Duraev to get an immediate takedown. Duraev then transitions straight into full mount and starts attacking with ground and pound and threatening with a head-and-arm choke. Big ground and pound from Duraev and Kopylov is trying to fight back but getting hurt bad. Duraev landing big, heavy elbows from the top in full mount and Kopylov is getting beaten up bad. Duraev going for a head-and-arm choke but Kopylov defends it and Duraev goes straight back to the big elbow strikes from the top. Kopylov turns on to his belly and Duraev takes his back to look for a choke, before smashing in more ground and pound. Duraev goes for a rear-naked choke and it’s in deep but Kopylov is saved by the bell! 20-17 Duraev.

Nice body shot from Kopylov and a head-kick is blocked, before Duraev goes straight back for a takedown against the cage. Kopylov defends it well but Duraev keeps trying until they separate and reset in the middle of the octagon. Nice body kick from Kopylov again, but Duraev lands a big right hand and then goes back in for a takedown. Kopylov defending it excellently though and as he escapes, Duraev goes down with exhaustion. Kopylov lands a big left hand and Duraev is exhausted, but so is Kopylov. Kopylove with his hands on his knees, trying to invite Duraev towards him. Duraev just taking his time to circle as we enter the final minute but both men are just waiting for the final bell at this point. Duraev goes for a takedown but gets caught and then Kopylov goes for a big takedown of his own to end the round. 30-26 Duraev.

Zubaira Tukhugov def Ricardo Ramos via Unanimous Decision (29-28 x3)

Fast start to this one as Ramos comes out very kick heavy, with low kicks and body attempts while Tukhugov just staying calm and patient. Nice left hand counter lands from Tukhugov that stumbles Ramos, which immediately makes the Brazilian think twice. Tukhugov forcing Ramos against the cage with his pressure and lands a big left hand. He follows it with a big right hand that opens up a huge cut! Tukhugov throws a big body shot and is pressuring Ramos hard now. Low kick from Ramos but Tukhugov counters with a nice one-two down the pipe. Big right hand swings wildly and misses but Ramos is very focused on avoiding rather than causing damage right now. Big counter-right hand from Tukhugov lands again. Tukhugov goes in for a left hook but Ramos counters with a spinning reverse elbow that opens a big cut up on Tukhugov! What a round! 10-9 Tukhugov for me.

Start of the second similar to the first, with Ramos trying to be first and Tukhugov trying to counter. Big right hand from the Russian lands but Ramos continuing to be on the front foot. Tukhugov slips a big combination and points at Ramos, before Ramos slips a counter one-two straight back. Nice low kick from Ramos lands and then a big one-two down the pipe. Tukhugov goes for a single leg but lets it go and lands a right hand of his own. Tukhugov starting to pressure Ramos against the cage but the Brazilian doing well to move and circle. Big right hand from Tukhugov lands and he follows up with two nice jabs. Tukhugov fires in with a blast double leg and gets a back trip to take the fight down with ten seconds left and likely take the round. 20-18 Tukhugov for me.

Tukhugov looking to take the initiative early on again and stepping forward with his jab. Ramos looks like he’s tiring but is landing his right hand well. Ramos lands a big knee with his back against the cage and then explodes forward with more strikes. Tukhugov stays calm though and continues to land his jab, while avoiding Ramos’ bigger strike attempts. Another stiff jab by Tukhugov but Ramos just misses with an elbow. More jabs from Tukhugov, who is pressuring Ramos backwards consistently. Ramos lands a right hand and then a low kick but Tukhugov still coming forward and then shoots for a takedown with 30 seconds to go. A few trip attempts but the buzzer goes and Tukhugov should earn the decision win.

Amanda Ribas def Virna Jandiroba via Unanimous Decision (29-28 x3)

Jandiroba shoots straight in for a takedown but Ribas sprawls and denies it immediately. Ribas fires a one-two down the pipe after slipping Jandiroba’s strike attempt, before Jandiroba sees another takedown attempt denied. Big one-two lands from Jandiroba and then she shoots for a takedown and secures it into full guard. Jandiroba goes for body-head strikes but Ribas throws her legs up and looks for a very unique submission, but Jandiroba stays calm, escapes and goes back to the ground and pound. Jandiroba scoops her over to the cage and stacks her up, looking for some strikes then launches down with a huge elbow. Jandiroba completely controlling on the ground right now with relentless pressure but then the referee stands them up. Jandiroba lands a big right hand that drops Ribas but the buzzer goes and potentially saves her! 10-9 Jandiroba.

Lots of bouncing to open the second round and then Ribas lands a big right hand straight down the pipe. Jandiroba responds with a right hand of her own before a spinning back kick from Ribas lands to the body. Nice counter right from Ribas again as both women stand toe-to-toe. Lots of big actions from both women but not much landing as of now, with Ribas pushing the action and Jandiroba on the back foot. Jandiroba goes for a single leg takedown but Ribas reverses the attempt and ends up on top, before they scramble up to their feet again. Lots of tough grappling to end the round, but Ribas takes it. 19-19.

Ribas pressuring hard in the third now with nice combinations and ending them all with a kick. Jandiroba is slowing up quite clearly and she shoots for a lazy takedown that Ribas stuffs then tries to trip her herself. Nice left hand from Jandiroba before Ribas counters the next strike with a nice left hand. Spinning kick to the body doesn’t land clean, before Jandiroba goes for another takedown but is denied. Big head kick from Ribas lands and Jandiroba is hurt! She goes for a spin kick that misses and that allows Jandiroba to recover her senses, but she’s very tired. Ribas still fresh and being first with her strikes as the fight winds down to a close. Should be a comeback 29-28 win for Ribas.



MAIN CARD

Magomed Ankalaev def Volkan Oezdemir via Unanimous Decision (30-27 x2, 29-28)

Ankalaev opening up early with some speedy strikes down the pipe, but Oezdemir staying calm in front of him. Oezdemir throws a wicked left hook that lands, then follows up with a left uppercut that wobbles Ankalaev. Oezdemir goes for a flying knee but misses and Ankalaev gets a body lock and puts him up against the cage. Oezdemir has Ankalaev backing up against the cage but both men are just missing with their strikes. Big one-two down the pipe from Ankalaev and he drops Oezdemir! He goes to finish but Oezdemir gets back up quickly and they reset. Another jab and left hand from Ankalaev lands and he’s now taking the centre. Oezdemir looks hesitant and Ankalaev’s left hand is landing at will almost. One-two followed by two more right-hands by Ankalaev as the round ends. 10-9 Ankalaev.

Oezdemir tries to rush in with his right hand but Ankalaev escapes, clinches up and then lands a big left hand on the break. Hard low kick from Oezdemir before Ankalaev throws another combination that just misses. Oezdemir steps forward with a right hand but Ankalaev counters with a hard right hook that cuts Oezdemir above the eye. Oezdemir’s only success really coming from low kicks but Ankalaev controlling the range and throwing his left hand well. Uppercut from Ankalaev lands and then he locks up a body lock against the cage, throwing hard knees to the thigh of Oezdemir. Ankalaev tries to get a takedown but Oezdemir defends well, then blocks a big left hand on the break. 20-18 Ankalaev.

Ankalaev staying very calm and jabbing well in this final round. Nice jab and a big right hand lands but Oezdemir eats it well. Oezdemir goes for a takedown but Ankalaev denies it and then lands a hard right hand. Ankalaev turning up the pressure a little now with a left head kick but Oezdemir still trying to find a moment. Big right hand lands from Oezdemir but Ankalaev eats it and steps to the side before returning to his jab. Entering the final minute now and both guys seem to have accepted the result of this one, with not much happening. Hard body kick from Ankalaev before a stiff right jab lands too. Takedown attempt from Ankalaev as the round ends, in what should be a 30-27 win for him.

Khamzat Chimaev def Jingliang Li via Submission (Rear-Naked Choke), Round 1 (3:16)

Chimaev ducks under a right hand and goes straight for a takedown on Li, who defends it well before eventually getting lifted, slammed and controller. Chimaev throwing some ground strikes again but Li defending well, although Chimaev is controlling him with wrestling so far. Heavy ground and pound from Chimaev as he puts a hook in and starts searching for a choke. Chimaev goes on the back and flattens Li out and starts smashing him with ground and pound! Huge shots from Chimaev but Li is still trying to fight him! Chimaev switches to the back and goes for a choke and sinks it in! Li fighting the submission but Chimaev switches sides, readjusts the grip and puts Li to sleep! Wow!! What a performance! The hype is real!

Alexander Volkov def Marcin Tybura via Unanimous Decision (30-27 x2, 29-28)

Great start from both guys as Volkov comes forward with some body shots and stiff hooks, but Tybura replies with a big left hand of his own. Volkov using his length well to land straight shots and avoid Tybura’s returns so far, before Tybura changes levels on him to no avail. Tybura gets inside and goes for a takedown, but Volkov denies him really well before breaking with an elbow attempt. Big one-two from Volkov but Tybura steps forward again with pressure to close the distance. Tybura changes levels on Volkov but he turns him and ends up on top, landing a big elbow early. Tybura stalling on the ground by just holding Volkov tight to him and Volkov goes for a forearm to the throat to try and disrupt the breathing. Volkov lands a few more ground strikes to end the round in control and take it on the cards, 10-9.

Volkov using his front kick well once again and the big right hand following behind it. Tybura pressing the pace and forcing him backwards, but his takedown attempts are being denied quite comfortably. A few uppercuts in the clinch from Tybura land before another takedown attempt is denied. Volkov throws a knee that is caught and Tybura tries for another takedown, but Volkov denies him again and lands a right hand as they separate. Nice one-two from Tybura lands and Volkov is starting to tire now. Left hand misses from Tybura again and then Volkov lands a beautiful right hook. Tybura fakes a jab and goes for another takedown but Volkov denies it and sees out the round. Hard to score, but it’s probably even going into the third.

Tybura on the front foot once again in this final round, almost chasing Volkov but neither doing much damage. Volkov lands a hard knee to the body before Tybura goes for another takedown that gets stuffed. Nice one-two from Volkov as they separate but it’s still Tybura pushing forward. Big left uppercut followed by a right hand from Volkov lands and then he denies yet another takedown! Short left hook from Tybura lands and then he goes in for a takedown again that Volkov defends routinely at this point. Tybura tries a hip toss but Volkov holds a body lock and has the back, landing big knees to the thigh. Big right hands from Volkov land and then some nice combinations as Tybura starts to tire. Big one-two from Volkov but Tybura responds with a big left of his own. Final minute now and both guys are breathing heavy. Volkov lands a big right hand, slips Tybura’s strikes and lands a nice combination to back Tybura up. Straight right hand each as the round comes to an end, should be a Volkov decision win 29-28.

Islam Makhachev def Dan Hooker via Submission (Kimura), Round 1 (2:25)

Hooker trying to keep length nice and early here with a few low kicks as Makhachev takes the centre and just looks for his moment. Makhachev throws a nice hook then dips low and catches Hooker’s leg to get an immediate takedown and move straight to half guard in his own corner. Makhachev throws a nice elbow in tight and is now attacking a kimura! Makhachev readjusts the grip, steps over and twists the arm behind the back and secures the tap out! Unbelievable performance from Makhachev!

Petr Yan def Cory Sandhagen via Unanimous Decision (49-46 x3)

An exchange of leg kicks between the two in the opening minute, as Yan takes the centre and Sandhagen looks to circle on the outside and use his length. Yan lets a left hand fly but it just misses, before a nice low kick followed by a body shot from Sandhagen. Low kick from Yan and Sandhagen counters with two nice left hands before changing levels to go for a takedown. Yan defends it well though and they go back into a close exchange of striking. Hard low kick from Yan lands before Sandhagen steps forward and just misses with a left. Sandhagen forces Yan to the cage and lands a few touching shots, before a nice kick to the body. Hard strikes from Sandhagen land but Yan returns with a big right hand of his own before Sandhagen changes levels again. Big flying knee from Sandhagen lands and the round ends. 10-9 Sandhagen.

Hard low kick from Sandhagen to open up the round, before both guys use their feints really well. Body kick from Yan lands but he misses with the follow up right hand and Sandhagen responds with a right hand of his own. Huge body kick from Yan lands clean and then Sandhagen responds with a nice left hook to the body himself. Head kick attempt from Yan is caught and Sandhagen throws a nice right. Yan responds with a low kick and then a big left hand to the chin. Sandhagen moving well still and touching Yan well, but Yan starting to counter with powerful strikes of his own. Yan just misses with a big left hand and both guys exchange body shots again. Sandhagen goes for a takedown but Yan defends it well and keeps the fight standing. Big knee from Sandhagen again but Yan eats it well. Yan pushing forward and putting his pace on this fight, but Sandhagen using his length well to stay out of real danger. 19-19.

Soft left hands from Sandhagen before he checks a leg kick and lands a beautiful left down the pipe to wobble Yan. Yan comes forward with a spinning kick to the body before Sandhagen lands his jab again. Huge left hook to the body from Yan lands but Sandhagen comes forward again with his jab and circles on the outside. Hard leg kick but Yan checks it and then he lands a big left uppercut. He goes for a combination but Sandhagen avoids it and lands a one-two of his own. Yan trying to turn the pressure up but Sandhagen slipping shots well and avoiding clean hits. Big one-two from Yan lands but Sandhagen staying calm and circling on the outside. Body kick from Yan but Sandhagen moves forward to trade with him. Yan throws a big hook and then a spinning back fist and drops Sandhagen! He goes for vicious ground and pound but Sandhagen stays calm and after some scrambles, they get back to the feet and the round ends. 29-28 Yan.

Yan starting to walk Sandhagen down a bit now but he isn’t going anywhere. Nice jabs again and a nice knee attempt just misses, but Yan is throwing big left hands and landing clean. Another big left from Yan lands flush but Sandhagen still standing. Body shot from Sandhagen gets a big left straight reply from Yan, but Sandhagen continuing to poke at him with jabs. Yan with a body kick and then a beautiful one two lands. Sandhagen shoots for a takedown and gets it, but both guys go for a heel hook before they scramble back to their feet. Yan ducks under a spinning back fist then lands some big combinations to the head and body. Yan continuing to march forward and the big hooks are landing, but Sandhagen responds with a big elbow. Yan steps forward and blasts Sandhagen with a huge right hand, but Sandhagen just eats it. Yan stuffs a takedown and they start scrambling again, with Yan throwing big combinations. 39-37 Yan.

Final round and Sandhagen still trying pick his shots while Yan is walking him down. Hard low kick from Yan gets a big reaction from Sandhagen, before he tries another jump knee that Yan blocks. Yan looking to close distance again but Sandhagen still fresh and moving well, flicking out his jab. Yan goes for three hooks but misses them all thanks to good movement, before Yan tries for a takedown and Sandhagen denies him. Huge head kick from Yan lands but Sandhagen shakes his head and says no, before Yan goes for more big hooks. Final 90 seconds and Yan is still coming forward. Right jab from Yan before Sandhagen makes him miss several times. Big left hand from Sandhagen lands and then he avoids the spinning back fist. Big knee from Sandhagen with ten seconds left but Yan responds with a spinning kick to the chin and they go wild with seconds remaining to end the fight. What a bout! 49-46 Yan for me.

Glover Teixeira def Jan Blachowicz via Submission (Rear Naked Choke), Round 2 (3:02)

Hard leg kick from Blachowicz opens up the fight as Teixeira looks to take the centre. Teixeira changes levels and goes for the takedown, before spinning him off the cage and securing it. Straight into full guard as Blachowicz looks to tie him up and avoid that vicious ground and pound game of Teixeira’s. Teixeira pulling the head up and making Blachowicz very uncomfortable on the bottom, grinding his elbows and head against him too. Teixeira goes for an elbow but just misses, then cranks the neck up again and then lands a short elbow. Final minute and Teixeira starting to be more active from the top position and that’s the round. 10-9 Teixeira.

Blachowicz comes out with the jab early and lands a nice left hand combination, before denying Teixeira’s takedown attempt. Big left uppercut from Blachowicz before Teixeira closes the distance and rushes Blachowicz against the cage with a clinch. Blachowicz denies another takedown attempt and is just popping his jab. Teixeira goes wild and lands a big left hand that wobbles Blachowicz! Blachowicz responds with a nice right hand combination that staggers Teixeira himself, but the Brazilian gets a takedown quickly and moves into mount immediately! Teixeira flattens him out and gets the arm under his neck and gets the tap!!! Unbelievable!! AND NEW!!

UFC 267: Blachowicz vs Teixeira – Main card predictions

An absolutely stacked card comes to you live from Fight Island in Abu Dhabi this weekend at UFC 267.

Headlining the card is a chance for Jan Blachowicz to legitimise his light heavyweight title reign when he defends the belt against Glover Teixeira in the main event.

There is also an interim bantamweight title fight between Petr Yan and Cory Sandhagen in the co-main event slot, with many fans considering it the ‘real’ title fight.

Also on the card is Islam Makhachev looking to prove Khabib Nurmagomedov right when he fights Dan Hooker, while Khamzat Chimaev makes his return to the octagon for the first time since September 2020.

Last week at UFC Vegas 41 we had a rough time with our picks, landing just 7/13 correct with three perfect picks to move us up to 446/702 (63.53%) with 190 perfect picks (42.6%) since June 2020.

We’ll look to improve on that with this huge 15-fight card and after starting with the early prelims and predicting the rest of the prelims here, we move on to the main card.


Magomed Ankalaev (15-1) vs Volkan Oezdemir (17-5) – (Light Heavyweight/205lbs)

A light heavyweight banger to open up the main card! Ankalaev is on a six-fight win streak with knockout wins over Ion Cutelaba twice including at UFC 254 and then a decision against Nikita Krylov at UFC Vegas 20. Oezdemir on the other hand saw his two fight win streak snapped by a violent knockout by Jiri Prochazka at UFC 251.

Ankalaev is a violent kickboxer with stunning power and great technique on his side. Oezdemir on the other hand is a good striker too with legit one-punch knockout power and good grappling defence skills (except against Daniel Cormier). Ankalaev likely has the power and technique advantage in this fight, but Oezdemir is a slick mover and I think he has the speed edge here.

Oezdemir will need to use his calf kicks well and hope to land with one of his powerful looping hooks, but those hooks will likely be countered by the crisp, straight strikes of Ankalaev and I expect he’ll turn the lights out midway through the fight.
PICK – Magomed Ankalaev via Knockout, Round 2

Li Jingliang (18-6) vs Khamzat Chimaev (9-0) – (Welterweight/170lbs)

A super exciting welterweight banger between Li Jingliang and the returning Khamzat Chimaev. Li is coming off a stunning knockout win over Santiago Ponzinibbio at UFC Fight Island 7 where he was a huge underdog, while Chimaev is fighting for the first time since his third win in 60-odd days at UFC Vegas 11 where he KO’d Gerald Meerschaert in 17 seconds.

Li is a very powerful striker with great low kicks and crisp boxing, while Chimaev has shown great power in his hands but also a relentless ground game that just completely crumbles his opponents. Chimaev’s background is also in kickboxing and on the regional scene he was knocking guys out for fun.

If Li is to earn a victory in this one he needs to keep the fight standing and exchange on the feet. Unfortunately for him, Chimaev’s power is enough that he won’t be scared to exchange on the feet but also his wrestling game is just too good to be able to avoid for 15 minutes. Chimaev takes his time but eventually storms a takedown and pummels Li until the referee steps in.
PICK – Khamzat Chimaev via Knockout, Round 2

Alexander Volkov (33-9) vs Marcin Tybura (22-6) – (Heavweight/220-265lbs)

A very fun heavyweight bout between two guys looking to stay in-and-around the top five. Volkov started the year with a knockout win over Alistair Overeem at UFC Vegas 18 but then got dominated by Ciryl Gane at UFC Vegas 30. Tybura on the other hand is on a five-fight win streak currently with KO’s over Greg Hardy at UFC Vegas 17 and then Walt Harris at UFC Vegas 28.

Volkov is a power, technical boxer who stands at 6ft 8′ and is very mobile and athletic. Tybura on the other hand is a powerful striker who uses his leg kicks really well and throws good combinations with his hands. His previous toughest opponent was arguably Derrick Lewis and he got stopped in the third round, while Volkov dominated Lewis until a literal last second KO in the fifth.

With his size advantage and technical prowess, this fight seems to play into Volkov’s hands. He’s got a pretty good chin on his own, good knees to the box and enough power to end it early. In the end, I think he pieces Tybura up for 15 minutes and gets a wide decision win.
PICK – Alexander Volkov via Decision

Islam Makhachev (20-1) vs Dan Hooker (21-10) – (Lightweight/155lbs)

A really fun fight at the top of the lightweight division as Islam Makhachev takes on Dan Hooker on short-notice. Makhachev is on an eight-fight win streak, with stoppages against Drew Dober at UFC 259 and Thiago Moises at UFC Vegas 31 most recently. Hooker was on a two-fight losing streak after defeats to Dustin Poirier at UFC Vegas 4 and Michael Chandler at UFC 257, but bounced back with a decision win over Nasrat Haqparast at UFC 266. He replaces Rafael Dos Anjos on just a few weeks notice.

Makhachev is the prodigy of former champion Khabib Nurmagomedov and his style in the cage shows that. He is a terrific wrestler with brilliant pressure and a decent array of strikes too, while Hooker is a kickboxer with amazing cardio and good knockout power in his hands too. Hooker loves to throw knees up the middle and he is always game for a fight, but this seems like a stretch too far.

Makhachev is comfortable on the feet but he will look to shoot in for the takedown and grind on Hooker. ‘Hangman’ is a good scrambler, but Makhachev is by far the best wrestler he’s fought and the likelihood of him getting back up could be slim. Islam may get caught once or twice but once he gets the reads he’ll take him down and dominate him for a wide and dominant decision.
PICK – Islam Makhachev via Decision



Petr Yan (15-2) vs Cory Sandhagen (14-3) – (Bantamweight/135lbs)

One of the best fights of the year on paper for the interim bantamweight title. Petr Yan was unstoppable in the UFC, claiming the title with a KO win over Jose Aldo at UFC 251 before his disqualification loss to Aljamain Sterling at UFC 259 meant he lost the belt. Sandhagen was on a tear and earned a shot himself with KO’s over Marlon Moraes at UFC Fight Island 5 and Frankie Edgar at UFC Vegas 18 before a razor close defeat to TJ Dillashaw in July.

Yan is a brilliant all-rounder, with excellent boxing, tremendous footwork and good wrestling too. He has fight-changing power on the feet but is also patient enough not to rush in and commit himself. Sandhagen is a brilliant striker with great range and length, with a decent wrestling game in his back-pocket too. Yan is the smaller guy by some way here, but he is a clean, technical fighter who is in his prime right now.

Sandhagen will no doubt look to use his length and spinning techniques to keep the fight in his world, but Yan’s forward pressure and wrestling ability means he just has a little edge. Sandhagen has struggled in later rounds in the past and I think Yan can outwork him over 25 minutes for a thrilling win.
PICK – Petr Yan via Decision

Jan Blachowicz (28-8) vs Glover Teixeira (32-7) – (Light Heavyweight/205lbs)

A light heavyweight title fight between the top two ranked guys in the world. Blachowicz is coming off the back of five-fight win streak including winning the belt with a KO of Dominick Reyes at UFC 253 before a dominant win over Israel Adesanya at UFC 259. Teixeira earned himself a title shot with a five-fight win streak of his own, ending in a dominant KO win over Thiago Santos at UFC Vegas 13.

Blachowicz is a really well-rounded fighter with his ‘legendary Polish power’ matched up with great wrestling and excellent cardio. Teixeira on the other hand has got crisp boxing and excellent power, while his ground game is among the nastiest in the UFC in any weight. Blachowicz and Teixeira are both veterans of the sport, but the four-year age gap does certainly help the champion.

Teixeira will likely want to use his clean technique on the feet to land his big strikes, while Blachowicz will look to close the distance and make it dirty to use his physical style before unloading his big right hand. Teixeira will also look to get this fight to the ground to use his jiu-jitsu, but if Blachowicz ends up on top he’ll have the edge there too because of his physicality. Blachowicz for me has a power and speed edge on the feet and I think he lands one of those big shots early and gets the finish with some ground and pound.
PICK – Jan Blachowicz via Knockout, Round 3

Islam Makhachev can prove Khabib Nurmagomedov right at UFC 267

Last weekend marked one year to the day that Khabib Nurmagomedov officially retired from mixed martial arts as an undefeated champion, following a submission win over Justin Gaethje at UFC 254.

After the fight and subsequent confirmation of his decision to retire from the sport, Khabib did a round of media interviews across the world where he was asked who he believed the best fighters in the division were now that he was gone.

One name consistently popped up, his teammate and long-time friend Islam Makhachev.



Makhachev has since improved his record to 20-1, with two wins this year against Drew Dober at UFC 259 and then a main event win over Thiago Moises at UFC Vegas 31 in July.

This weekend at UFC 267 he returns to Abu Dhabi and Fight Island to take on Dan Hooker in a three-round lightweight fight on the main card.

It was supposed to be Rafael Dos Anjos in a grudge match, but the Brazilian withdrew following knee surgery and it was ‘Hangman’ who stepped in on short-notice after he snapped a two-fight losing streak with a decision win over Nasrat Haqparast at UFC 266.

Stylistically, the fight still favours Makhachev. He is a great striker on the feet with good power to match up with Hooker’s kickboxing, but he has the ability to take a fight to the ground and keep it there in a dominant way – much like Khabib did.

Hooker will be looking for a huge upset on the night, but if Makhachev can get the victory that many are predicting and expecting on the night then he will further help to prove that Khabib was right about him the whole time.

With the lightweight title fight at UFC 269 in December just around the corner between Charles Oliveira and Dustin Poirier, a stand-out win for Makhachev could easily see him installed as the next contender for the belt.

He is currently ranked at number 5 with Justin Gaethje and Michael Chandler ahead of him scheduled to fight each other, with both men coming off title shot defeats.

Beneil Dariush is the other man ahead of Makhachev, but proving Khabib right at UFC 267 means he is likely just two wins away at most from becoming the lightweight champion of the world.

UFC 267 card announced with changes

The UFC have officially announced the card for UFC 267 at the end of the month and there are some changes to it.

In a stacked card that is to be headlined by Jan Blachowicz defending his light heavyweight title against Glover Teixeira, there is now set to be an interim bantamweight title fight in the co-main event slot while another major fight has had a short-notice step in too.

Originally the card was set to see Aljamain Sterling make the first defence of his bantamweight crown in a highly anticipated rematch against Petr Yan, following their first bout at UFC 259 which ended in the title changing hands via disqualification.

After that fight, Sterling underwent neck surgery for an injury he has had since his high school days from his wrestling background.

It was expected that he would be fine to fight, hence the rematch being booked but according to ESPN’s Brett Okamoto the UFC doctors would not clear Sterling to fight on October 30th as he hasn’t yet recovered fully from the surgery and therefore the fight was scrapped.

In it’s place however will be an interim title fight that will see Petr Yan look to get gold wrapped around his waist once more, when he takes on Cory Sandhagen at UFC 267.

Sandhagen had been hotly tipped to face the winner of Yan and Sterling’s first bout after knocking out Marlon Moraes at UFC Fight Island 5 and then Frankie Edgar at UFC Vegas 18. Because of the ending in that title fight however, Sandhagen opted to take a fight against former champion TJ Dillashaw rather than waiting around.

In what was a razor close fight, Dillashaw was able to earn the decision win in that one but he blew his knee out in the first round and was forced to undergo surgery meaning he is unavailable to fight. The UFC have now done the right thing and given Sandhagen the shot he had earned prior to his defeat.

Elsewhere on the card, Islam Makhachev was supposed to finally settle his beef with Rafael Dos Anjos in the lightweight division after months of back and forth on social media.

The Brazilian however was forced to undergo knee surgery in the last few weeks and the UFC have now confirmed he is out of that match up, and has been replaced by the recently victorious Dan Hooker.

Hooker fought just last week at UFC 266, battling against Nasrat Haqparast to a three-round decision win after a host of visa issues and problems trying to find an opponent for the card. But after getting back in the win column after two consecutive defeats, Hooker has jumped at the chance to fight a ranked opponent again.

Makhachev is currently on an eight-fight win streak in the UFC and has made waves in recent bouts, being cornered by Khabib Nurmagomedov and being tipped to become the next lightweight champion by ‘The Eagle’. He is currently ranked at number five at 155lbs and a win over Hooker will almost certainly put him into title contention for his next bout.

Full Card announced for UFC 267:

Jan Blachowicz vs Glover Teixeira – Light Heavyweight Title
Petr Yan vs Cory Sandhagen – Interim Bantamweight Title
Islam Makhachev vs Dan Hooker – Lightweight
Alexander Volkov vs Marcin Tybura – Heavyweight
Li Jingliang vs Khamzat Chimaev – Welterweight
Magomed Ankalaev vs Volkan Oezdemir – Light Heavyweight

Amanda Ribas vs Virna Jandiroba – Strawweight
Ricardo Ramos vs Zubaira Tukhugov – Featherweight
Albert Duraev vs Roman Kopylov – Middleweight
Shamil Gamzatov vs Michal Oleksiejczuk – Light Heavyweight
Makwan Amirkhani vs Lerone Murphy – Featherweight
Hu Yaozong vs Alen Amedovski – Middleweight
Magomed Mustafaev vs Damir Ismagulov – Lightweight
Tagir Ulanbekov vs Allan Nascimento – Flyweight

UFC 267 will take place live from Fight Island in Abu Dhabi on October 30th, with a prime-time European slot. The prelims are scheduled to begin at 4pm UK time, with the main card due to begin at 7pm UK time.

UFC 266: Volkanovski vs Ortega – Results (Highlights)

EARLY PRELIMS

Jonathan Pearce def Omar Morales via Submission (Rear Naked Choke), Round 2 (3:31)

Slow start to the fight for Pearce as Morales keeps the distance well in the opening minute and lands some nice low kicks. Pearce struggling to close the distance and Morales lets fly with some big strikes that just miss on the counter. Beautiful left hand from Morales followed by a big low kick but Pearce rushes him and goes for a takedown from the clinch, but Morales is able to get back up instantly and clinch up against the cage again. Pearce tries to drag him back down before a big trip gets him into top position, but Morales has the underhook and is able to sweep and get on top. Pearce holds on and then lands another big takedown, but Morales throws some big elbows and eventually gets back to the feet. More clinching against the cage as the round ends. Pearce didn’t do much damage but he controlled the ground game for the majority of the round, so 10-9 Pearce.

Fast start from Pearce this time as he ducks under a wild right hook and goes for the takedown immediately. Morales defends it well against the cage but Pearce is relentless with it and eventually gets him down and takes his back. Pearce slides off and Morales looks for a d’arce choke but he rolls and loses the grip, so Pearce gets up and gets on Morales’ back again. Morales is tired and Pearce has a body triangle, but Morales almost gives up full mount. Pearce landing some strikes on the ground and eventually sinks in a choke. Morales refuses to tap but passes out and the referee stops it! Big win for JSP!

Matthew Semelsberger def Martin Sano Jr via Knockout, Round 1 (0:15)

GOODNIGHT. Semelsberger throws out a couple of feeler shots, then lands a steaming right straight on the chin and Sano is out cold. Semelsberger lands one more while he’s down and this one is over.

Nick Maximov def Cody Brundage via Unanimous Decision (29-28 x3)

Fun start from both guys as Brundage opens with a few strikes and knee, while Maximov shoots for a takedown but sees it get defended. Maximov lands two big strikes and Brundage starts throwing hard leg kicks to see him off. Maximov shoots in for a takedown and immediately transitions to the back, but Brundage defending well using a kimura grip and gets back to his feet. Maximov shoots in for another takedown and this time steps over Brundage to avoid the kimura defence and he ends up in a really positive position on top. Short strikes and Brundage just holding tight for the final 30 seconds. Maximov lands some heavy strikes and Brundage rushes back up to end the round. 10-9 Maximov.

Brundage goes in for an early takedown on Maximov but he reverses the position and ends up on top himself. Maximov takes the back and starts landing some nice ground and pound and then sinks his hooks in and takes Brundage’s back. Brundage starts working his way back up to the feet and eats a big knee, before he spins out and looks for a guillotine submission. Maximov pops his head out and is in full guard on top. He takes the back again and is looking for a choke. Brundage fights the hands and escapes but Maximov keeps his position on the back for the remainder of the round. 20-18 Maximov.

Final round and once again Maximov goes for a takedown to hold Brundage down but he defends it well. Nice right hand from Brundage changes Maximov’s balance and drops him. Maximov controlling the exchanges but Brundage now throwing big elbows from the bottom and Maximov is hurt. Some big strikes land on the ground and he ends up on top landing big strikes, but Maximov grabs a single leg and survives it. He gets back on top and holds the position for the rest of the round to hopefully secure a win. 29-28 Maximov.

Jalin Turner def Uros Medic via Submission (Rear Naked Choke), Round 1 (4:01)

Turner starts the fight by taking the centre and flicking out a jab, then landing a nice left hand down the middle. Medic responds with two hard low kicks and then a high kick that lands, but Turner catches the leg high and takes Medic down into side control. Medic tries to sweep and roll through but Turner does well to keep full guard position. Medic pushes his way back to the feet but Turner follows him up and hurts him with a nasty body shot. Turner pouring on the pressure with strikes and body shots and he puts Medic down. He piles on more strikes, Medic turns to his knees, Turner synches up a choke and Medic taps! What a performance!

PRELIMS

Taila Santos def Roxanne Modafferi via Unanimous Decision (30-27 x3)

Fast start to this one on the feet from Santos, who lands some big hooks clean early on in some exchanges. Santos charges with strikes, clinches up and then secures a takedown with a trip inside the first 90 seconds. Santos teeing off with elbows and body strikes on the ground but Modafferi is working for an armbar off her back. Santos lands a big elbow strike to escape and goes back into full guard before Modafferi works her way back to her feet against the cage. Modafferi switches positions and lands some nice knees to the body, before Santos trips her again and takes back to the mat. Modafferi pops back up and looks to take Santos down against the cage but she defends well and lands some heavy knees to the body to close out the round. 10-9 Santos.

Modafferi comes out swinging in the second round and both women connect with big shots early, before Santos has a kick caught and Modafferi takes her towards the cage. Santos defends well but Modafferi staying patient and consistent with the pressure. Santos lands a huge right hook that wobbles Modafferi and Santos charges into her and takes her down to the mat. Modafferi’s eye is swollen and cut bad as Santos lands another big ground and pound strike before wearing on her from top position. Santos takes the back of Modafferi but she works her way back up to the feet against the cage, but Santos takes her straight back down again. Santos controls the position for the final minute and takes this round too. 20-18.

Santos takes the centre to start the final round and is looking to counter Modafferi with strikes. Modafferi steps forward and lands a couple of strikes but Santos responds with two hard straights of her own. Santos lands two huge hooks and Modafferi sits down on her butt, before Santos launches on to her and starts controlling position again. Santos landing some big elbow strikes from the top and Modafferi looks completely outclassed right now. Santos advances to side control with a cradle, then switches to take her back. Santos going for a choke but Modafferi fighting against it before Santos lets her back up on the feet. 90 seconds left and Modafferi still coming forward but Santos is landing her jab at will. Modafferi goes for a clinch against the cage but Santos throws her over her hip to end the round on top. 30-27, dominant.

Chris Daukaus def Shamil Abdurakhimov via Knockout, Round 2 (1:23)

Feeling out process to open up this fight as Daukaus just misses with an uppercut. Abdurakhimov hits a nice body shot and then goes for a spinning body kick as Daukaus throws a big right hand and both just miss. Abdurakhimov getting comfortable now and landing shots, with two big left hands catching Daukaus. Abdurakhimov goes to spin and Daukaus throws a leg kick at the same time which drops him. He gets back to the feet and Daukaus is head-hunting a little, but Abdurakhimov doing well to counter and keep him from landing flush. Daukaus steps forward and lands a huge left hook that drops him! He jumps on him for the finish and lands huge elbows and strikes but runs out of time. 10-9 Daukaus.

Daukaus steps forward early but Abdurakhimov is using his experience to slow the fight all the way down as he tries to recover. Big combination from Daukaus lands and Abdurakhimov is hurt! Daukaus comes forward and lands a huge right hook that drops him again! He goes for the finish and lands two huge elbows before the referee steps in and ends it! Huge knockout from Daukaus!

Dan Hooker def Nasrat Haqparast via Unanimous Decision (30-27 x2, 30-26)

Slow start to the bout as Hooker takes the centre early on and starts cutting the cage off early on as Haqparast circles the outside. Hooker looks for a few straight rights and body kicks, and Haqparast explodes with a big left hand that just misses. Hooker throwing some body kicks and still controlling the centre, with Haqparast still just circling on the outside and looking to explode. More of the same as we enter the final minute, where Haqparast just misses with a one-two before Hooker goes for a takedown against the cage. Haqparast defends it well as Hooker releases it, lands a one-two with a knee just as the buzzer goes. 10-9 Hooker.

Lots of kicks in the second round from Hooker as he pushes the pace and tries to attack more. Hooker goes for a takedown against the cage and throws some nice knees in the clinch against the cage, but Haqparast defending the takedown attempt well. Hooker lands a knee that knocks the mouthpiece out of Haqparast’s mouth but he’s not hurt. Hooker starting to clinch and throw knees a lot more now with Haqparast on the outside. Clinch against the cage and Hooker lands a nice body shot then right hand and he’s starting to land a lot more now. Big right hand from Hooker and then he clinches and slams Haqparast down to the mat. Hooker into side control and he’s landing knees to the body to close out the round. 20-18 Hooker.

Haqparast starts the third round with two big strikes that land nice on the chin but Hooker eats them and responds with an accidental low blow. Haqparast now coming forward and landed a big right hand again. Both guys exchange body kicks and then Hooker changes levels perfectly and secures a takedown. Hooker goes straight into side control and is landing some short shots on the ground while controlling the position. Hooker landing plenty of short strikes and then transitions to the back and lands some nice shots. Haqparast bursts back up but Hooker immediately level changes and gets the fight back down to the ground. Hooker controls the position for the rest of the round and lands some good ground and pound to end the fight. Impressive performance from Hooker. 30-27.

Merab Dvalishvili def Marlon Moraes via Knockout, Round 2 (4:25)

Very fun start as Moraes takes the centre and starts throwing strikes and kicks out early. Two hard low kicks land and Merab didn’t like those, and he throws some hard hooks and goes wild. Moraes returns fire but Merab catches his leg and takes him down. Moraes gets back up quickly and separates well then lands some heavy strikes. Moraes lands a huge left hook that rocks Merab and goes for the finish! Some huge left hooks land heavy and Merab is literally running away across the cage to get away. Moraes follows him across and throws some big strikes that makes Merab stumble! Merab manages to shoot for a takedown and clinches against the cage, gets Moraes down and survives. Now he’s controlling the top position and he’s raining down punches from top position! Moraes is in big trouble but the buzzer goes! What a crazy round. I have no idea how to score it.

Merab comes out fired up for the second round and Moraes is still struggling. Merab launches forward with an overhand right that hurts Moraes immediately and he takes him down straight away. More huge ground and pound strikes from Merab and Moraes is in absolute agony getting pummelled. Merab keeps it going with powerful elbows and strikes and Moraes is finished. This fight could be stopped at any moment. Merab keeps going with punishing strikes and the referee FINALLY steps in. What a performance from Merab!

MAIN CARD

Jessica Andrade def Cynthia Calvillo via Knockout, Round 1 (4:54)

Patient start from Andrade who takes the centre and immediately starts walking Calvillo down against the cage. Calvillo throws a few jabs out there and some kicks, then Andrade counters with a stiff right hand that wobbles Calvillo. Calvillo firing back with some jabs and nice strikes, but Andrade is eating them and answering back with powerful shots of her own and Calvillo is feeling them. Another clean right hand from Calvillo, but Andrade lands some chopping low kicks and follows up with some short right hands. Calvillo is landing good strikes but the power behind them is lacking. Andrade charges forward and lands some big right hands clean, then follows it with an uppercut that hurts Calvillo! Andrade goes for the finish and lands several strikes to the head and the referee steps in with five seconds to go in the round to end the fight! Big win from Andrade!

Curtis Blaydes def Jairzinho Rozenstruik via Unanimous Decision (30-27 x3)

Fun start to the fight as Blaydes takes the centre quickly and starts flicking out a jab. Rozenstruik immediately gets a left hand off to let Blaydes know he’s there, but Blaydes is showing lots of movement and bouncing around. Blaydes changes levels and gets the takedown with ease early on, and starts working for position with some good ground and pound strikes. Rozenstruik gets back to his feet slowly but then gets back to striking range. Blaydes has a speed advantage it seems so far and is dictating the pace of the fight with his jabs. Blaydes lands a hard low kick and Rozenstruik responds with a wild hook that hits Blaydes’ back as he turns away to escape. Round ends with a short exchange. 10-9 Blaydes.

Rozenstruik comes forward with a nice left hand early on but Blaydes back to using his jab and dictating the pace of the fight. Rozenstruik explodes with a combination but gets nowhere near Blaydes, who is just popping the jab and throwing out low kicks. Blaydes goes for a takedown but missed it and Rozenstruik just missed with an uppercut. Not much action in this round as we enter the final 90 seconds. Rozenstruik goes for a huge flying knee that connects and then lands a big one-two on Blaydes! Blaydes immediately changes levels and gets a takedown, then advances straight to half-guard to start opening some ground and pound and end the round. 20-18 Blaydes.

Final round and Blaydes keeping calm on the feet and dictating the range once again with his jab. A couple of low kicks and Rozenstruik comes back with a right hand that just misses. Blaydes lands two nice jabs and a left straight, then changes levels and secures the takedown once again. Rozenstruik tries to kick Blaydes off him, but Blaydes stays calm and goes straight back to the ground and lands some big ground and pound elbows. Blaydes dominating position from the top as Rozenstruik just can’t get up and the round comes to an end. Comfortable decision win for Blaydes here. 30-27.

Robbie Lawler def Nick Diaz via Knockout, Round 3 (0:44)

Fast start to the fight from Lawler as he comes forward and immediately starts throwing bombs and body shots to Diaz. Lawler much faster and looks much more physically strong, but Diaz throwing some nice combos down the middle too. Lawler still coming forward and trying to chop the legs but Diaz starting to land more strikes now. Diaz stringing together some beautiful combinations but Lawler eating them well and coming forward with some shots of his own. Some big body shots from Diaz landing but Lawler looks a lot more powerful. Could argue a 10-9 either way, but I’d go Diaz.

Fast start again from Lawler in the second round as he comes forward and looks to impose himself on Diaz. Nice elbow lands from Lawler and then a big body kick lands that hurts Diaz! Diaz steps away and Lawler throws a big leg kick, but Diaz responds again with some more beautiful boxing combinations including four left uppercuts in a row. Lawler goes back to the body and Diaz steps away again, but Lawler is right on top of him and in his face. Diaz not fading at all though and landing lots of strikes, although there isn’t much behind them. Lawler lands his left hand well and is hunting Diaz down, but eats a body kick. Diaz lands a big right hand but Lawler eats it and comes forward again with some more body work that has Diaz looking to move away as the round ends. 19-19.

Third round and Lawler coming out aggressive once again, pushing Diaz to the cage and throwing big bombs. Lawler lands a big body shot and follows it up with a big right hook that hurts Diaz! Diaz goes down to one knee, Lawler smashes him again on the chin and he falls to his back. Lawler tells him to get up and Diaz says he can’t continue so this one is over! Wow!

Valentina Shevchenko def Lauren Murphy via Knockout, Round 4 (4:00)

Tense start from both ladies in this one, with both women just feeling each other out for the opening minute. Shevchenko lands a nice body kick and then just misses with a left hand. Shevchenko goes for another kick and Murphy catches it and looks to clinch, but Shevchenko steps away and lands a right hand on the break. Shevchenko looking to land hard with her left hand but just missing, before a nice right hand and low kick combo followed by a spinning side kick to the body. Left hand followed by a low kick again by Shevchenko before a big right hand starts some swelling on Murphy’s eye. Head kick from Shevchenko lands, followed by a right hand and a takedown to close out the round. Dominant from the champ, 10-9.

More of the same to start the second round from Shevchenko as she starts to dominate the striking exchanges again. Shevchenko goes to engage in a takedown but Murphy reverses it and tries to get a takedown of her own, only for the champion to deny it and step away with a big left hand. Counter right hook from Shevchenko lands again before a solid body kick and another takedown from the champion. Shevchenko laying in half-guard and controlling the position for now, with Murphy just holding on to try and avoid too much damage. Shevchenko lands some big elbows from the top as the round comes to an end. 20-18.

Shevchenko dominant again, landing her left hand and counter right hook at will essentially. Nasty body kick again and a spinning heel kick just misses. Shevchenko controlling every aspect of the fight so far, Murphy can’t get near her at all. Superman punch lands from the champion followed by a one-two and leg-kick combination again. At this point Murphy is just surviving and Shevchenko is having her way in a very one-sided affair. Murphy goes for a strike but Shevchenko changes levels and clinches against the cage to see out the round. 30-27.

Murphy trying to come forward a bit more but Shevchenko is just completely in control. Little slip from Shevchenko gets the crowd excited but she hops up and lands a big left hand down the pipe of Murphy. More kicks from Shevchenko as she starts upping the pressure a bit, and lands a nasty front kick to the face. Shevchenko lands a check right hook that wobbles Murphy and then a big head kick followed by a street-fighter like combo of strikes to the face as she goes for the finish! Murphy is still standing somehow and Shevchenko takes her down and starts looking for ground and pound with some nasty elbows and the referee steps in and ends it! As one-sided as they come!

Alexander Volkanovski def Brian Ortega via Unanimous Decision (49-46, 50-45, 50-44)

Patient start from both guys as Volkanovski takes the centre of the cage and both guys flick out some jabs. Volkanovski lands a beautiful right hand but it’s countered by Ortega who lands one of his own. Volkanovski lands another right hand over the top which opens up a small cut above his eye. Ortega looking to step in with some jabs but Volkanovski keeping distance really well and then he landed a nice flush jab and big right hand too. Ortega lands a nice jab that opens up a small gash under Volkanovski’s eye, before slipping out of the way of two big strikes from the champion. Volkanovski stepping forward and starting to up the pace, but Ortega lands a nice counter left hand that wobbles Volkanovski. Jab from Ortega who then catches a kick and lands another left to close the round. Tough to score, but I’d go 10-9 Volk.

Very even fight so far as both men go blow for blow early in the second round. Ortega landing his jab well and the left hand behind it is landing on occasion too, while Volkanovski is closing the distance well and lands a big right hand clean himself. Volk throwing some leg kicks and Ortega fakes one in return but goes high instead and just misses. Volk steps in and throws some wild hooks and a big elbow, before looking to clinch up but Ortega immediately separates from him. Nice right hook from Ortega sends Volkanovski backwards but he responds with a heavy leg kick again. Volkanovski comes forward with a good combo but Ortega just staying at enough distance to not catch it flush. 20-18 Volkanovski.

Volkanovski starting well in this round and being a bit more aggressive with his striking and low kicks. Big right hand lands flush and Ortega eats it, then Volkanovski goes in for another but misses and they clash heads. Ortega looks unsteady and Volkanovski chopping at the leg, but Ortega fires back with a big combination that just misses. Volkanovski throws a leg kick that Ortega catches and he fires a left hand down the pipe that drops him! He jumps on a mounted guillotine and it’s tightttt but Volkanovski refuses to tap out! He pops his head out and escapes and gets back on top and starts landing bombs on an exhausted Ortega! Ortega throws up a triangle and locks it in and it’s tight again! Volkanovski once again refuses to tap and he pops out again and then gets back on top and rains down punches again but the buzzer goes! What a round!

The doctor allows Ortega to continue after a check and Volkanovski comes out hunting for him. Some big right hands land again and then Ortega goes for a takedown out of exhaustion. He trips Volkanovski and gets him down and looks for a guillotine again, but Volkanovski is safe and gets back on top to start raining down more ground and pound. Volkanovski is beating him up badly on the ground but Ortega is doing just enough to survive. Volkanovski lets him get back up but just misses with some big strikes as the round ends. 40-35 at a minimum to the champion.

Final round and Volkanovski staying patient in the centre again, but Ortega is in there giving it his all. Ortega goes for a takedown but Volkanovski defends it easy and lands a big right elbow. Ortega is coming forward with strikes and Volkanovski is backing up now, before Ortega lands a one-two and Volkanovski responds with a huge right hook. Big one-two from Ortega gets a nod of approval from Volkanovski. Both guys trading in the centre of the octagon as we enter the final minute of the fight. Ortega catches a kick and goes for a knee but misses. Final seconds and Ortega lands some huge strikes but Volkanovski is still standing as the buzzer goes and it’s all over. What a fight. Big win for the champion.

UFC 266: Volkanovski vs Ortega – Prelims predictions

An absolutely stacked UFC card heads to Las Vegas this weekend as UFC 266 hosts two title fights and a huge return to the sport.

Alexander Volkanovski and Brian Ortega will finally meet for the featherweight title in their rescheduled fight from UFC 260, with ‘T-City’ looking to fulfil his destiny of becoming the top dog at 145lbs.

In the co-main event, Valentina Shevchenko looks to continue on her path as one of the greatest mixed martial artists ever when she defends her flyweight crown for a sixth time against Lauren Murphy before the return of Nick Diaz to the UFC when he takes on Robbie Lawler and hopes to start something special with a win.

Last week at UFC Vegas 37 we went 9/13 with one perfect pick, moving us up to 411/646 (63.62%) with 178 perfect picks (43.31%). We’ll look to add to that and improve and after starting with the early prelims here, we’ll make our picks for the rest of the prelims now.


Roxanne Modafferi (25-19) vs Taila Santos (17-1) – (Flyweight/125lbs)

A fun flyweight fight to open the prelims here as the experienced Modafferi takes on the mightily impressive Santos. Modafferi is often seen as as litmus test in the UFC, alternating wins and losses all the way through her UFC career since December 2017. She lost most recently against Viviane Araujo at UFC Fight Island 8 via unanimous decision. Taila Santos on the other hand has been on a tear in the UFC dominating Molly McCann and Gillian Robertson most recently at UFC Vegas 17.

Modafferi is a terrible striker but is a good grappler and has so much heart that she almost never gets finished, while Santos is a super powerful striker and grappler herself who will be a very tough test for the veteran. Santos has really powerful hands and has dominated her last two opponents with wrestling and jiu-jitsu, but she’ll likely look to keep this on the feet as much as possible.

Unfortunately for Modafferi, it’s tough to see her getting a win here. She’s out-gunned everywhere and while she might not get finished, Santos should dominate once again.
PICK – Taila Santos via Decision

Shamil Abdurakhimov (20-5) vs Chris Daukaus (11-3) – (Heavyweight/220-265lbs)

Two top ten heavyweights go head-to-head in this one as the big boys come out to play. Abdurakhminov hasn’t fought since a defeat in 2019 to Curtis Blaydes but is still ranked at number 7, while Daukaus has three first-round finish wins in a row in the UFC with a KO over Alexei Oleinik last time out at UFC Vegas 19.

Daukaus is a slightly smaller heavyweight with lightning quick hands, great power and brilliant jiu-jitsu on the ground that he hasn’t had to show so far. Abdurakhminov is a talented wrestler with great ground and pound, but he’s also a good striker in his own right too. Daukaus for me has the speed advantage and the grappling advantage though, which makes this tough for Abdurakhimov.

Better hand speed, better submission skills and better cardio, it’s hard to look past Daukaus earning the W.
PICK – Chris Daukaus via Knockout, Round 1
BETTING TIP – Daukaus win via Sub/KO/DQ @ 11/10 (Bet365)

Dan Hooker (20-10) vs Nasrat Haqparast (13-3) – (Lightweight/155lbs)

Potentially the fight of the night in the lightweight division here between two guys who have had crazy fight weeks. Visa issues nearly called this one off, but the fight is on and Hooker is looking to snap a two-fight skid after defeats to Dustin Poirier and Michael Chandler most recently at UFC 257. Haqparast has won his last two, including most recently against Rafa Garcia at UFC Vegas 21.

Hooker is a great striker with brilliant body work, a nasty jab and great knees up the middle, while Haqparast is an excellent boxer with great jabs and some silky hooks too. Hooker’s style generally relied upon his iron chin, but he got slept last time out so that makes this a super tough fight to pick. Haqparast is a fighter who tends to put technique over power which could help Hooker, but he has got the power to put someone down.

With that said though, Hooker is a big step up in competition for Haqparast. He throws hell for leather with every strike and he has the gas tank to go all night, so I think he bounces back with a big win in one of the best fights on the card.
PICK – Dan Hooker via Knockout, Round 2

Marlon Moraes (23-8-1) vs Merab Dvalishvili (13-4) – (Bantamweight/135lbs)

The featured prelim bout sees a striking demon with good submission skills take on a wrestling machine. Moraes has lost his last two, getting knocked out by both Cory Sandhagen and Rob Font in violent fashion last time out at UFC Vegas 17. Merab on the other hand is on a hot streak, winning six-in-a-row via unanimous decision with the most recent coming against Cody Stamann at UFC Vegas 25.

Moraes is a brilliant kickboxer with genuine knockout power in all eight of his limbs, but he has shown in the past some severe cardio issues and his durability is lacking. He comes up against a guy who has taken the wrestling crown from Khabib Nurmagomedov in the UFC and genuinely has the best cardio in the company. He links takedowns together brilliantly, scrambles for fun and just never tires and that will be his game plan here.

Merab will shoot for takedowns over and over again and so long as he doesn’t get caught with something big on his way in or get carried away on the ground and caught in a submission while on top, he mauls his way to another decision win.
PICK – Merab Dvalishvili via Decision
BETTING TIP – Merab Dvalishvili via Decision @ 11/10 (Bet365)

UFC 257 Fallout: Poirier smokes McGregor, Chandler shocks everyone

The first pay-per-view of the year lived up to the hype, as Dustin Poirier knocked out Conor McGregor in the second round of their UFC 257 rematch.

The lightweight contenders were matched up in order to figure out who would be the next challenger for the 155lbs championship, with Khabib Nurmagomedov’s future unclear.

It was a wonderful performance from Poirier, as he implemented a game plan to smother the early power of McGregor before smashing him with calf kicks to stop his movement. After getting a takedown early in the first round and exchanging in the pockets, Poirier’s leg kick really damaged McGregor and in the second round the boxing exchanges were easier.

He hurt him with some big shots and while McGregor fired back with great accuracy, the difference in durability between their first fight and now was evident – Poirier could take the power now. He went to work with big combos against the cage, before a short right hook landed flush on the nose and dropped McGregor. He landed two more while Conor was down, but the fight was already done and the referee waved it off.

It was a showing that really emphasised the coming of age ‘Diamond’ has had since that first fight at featherweight in 2014. He has now won 11 of 14 fights at lightweight, with arguably the best CV of fighters on his record of anyone else in the division – including the champion Nurmagomedov.

His next fight will almost certainly be for the title now, although Dana White announced after the fight that the chances of a Khabib return from retirement are “not looking so positive.”

That means that he will likely fight either Charles Oliveira or Michael Chandler for the vacant belt later this year, after the latter’s successful debut in the co-main event.

Chandler took on number six ranked Dan Hooker and applied pressure from the opening second of the fight. As they circled, Hooker looked nervous and barring a few tame leg kicks didn’t throw any strikes. Chandler threw two long jabs to the body before a huge left hook landed flush on the chin and dropped him. He landed a barrage of shots before the referee stepped in and looked powerful to make an impression on all the eyes tuning in for the card.

It was a big eye opener for many, as his pressure seemed to freeze Hooker and has put the rest of the division on notice.

White commented in the post-fight press conference that Poirier vs Hooker for the vacant title makes the most sense if Khabib doesn’t return, although Poirier “guaranteed” that he would not be fighting Chandler in his next fight as he doesn’t feel he’s earned a title shot in the promotion just yet.

As for McGregor, he vowed to return later this year as he needs the activity and hopes for a rematch with Poirier to settle their trilogy at some point in the future.

What this performance showed though was that right now, Dustin Poirier is the best active lightweight in the world. Paid in full.

UFC 257: Poirier vs McGregor – Results (Highlights)

EARLY PRELIMS

Amir Albazi def Zhalgas Zhumagulov via Unanimous Decision (29-28 x3)

Good start to the bout from Zhumagulov as he lands two really nice combos on the feet. Albazi starting to work some leg kicks but Zhumagulov throwing a heavy overhand right that is just missing the target. Albazi starting to pressure against the cage and throws a big knee that Zhumagulov just steps out of the way of. Albazi shoots for a double leg and gets it, but Zhumagulov uses the cage to get back up quickly and they break apart. Both men exchange leg kicks in the centre, before Albazi lands a big right hand. Spinning back fist in response from Zhumagulov is followed by a left hook. Big double leg takedown from Zhumagulov takes Albazi down in the final seconds and ends the round on top. 10-9 Zhalgas.

Albazi comes out very aggressive in the second round and lands three big leg kicks early that get a reaction from Zhumagulov. Looks for a big knee against the cage but misses again and Zhumagulov lands a nice left hand. Albazi jabbing really well and pressuring against the cage, as Zhumagulov is loading a big right hand but can’t land it. Lots of movement and small touches from each man but Albazi controlling the pace of this round well. Zhumagulov shoots for a takedown with 20 seconds left but Albazi denies it and ends the round in a dominant position. 19-19.

Albazi controlling the distance in the final round here, landing jabs and maintaining his range. He shoots for the takedown and is denied but after a scramble he clinches up and gets Zhumagulov down and is in his full guard. Nice ground and pound and control from Albazi from the top position as he passes into side control and then takes the back. Albazi sinks the hooks in and threatens a rear naked choke but Zhumagulov fighting the hands well. Zhumagulov tries to turn into his guard but Albazi defends the position perfectly and continues the threaten the submission as we enter the final minute. Zhumagulov bursts out and gets back to his feet and starts firing punches and kicks. Albazi counters with a right hand and just using his footwork really well to avoid any damage and the round ends. Should be a win for Albazi. 29-28.

Movsar Evloev def Nik Lentz via Split Decision (29-28 x2, 28-29)

Interesting start to this fight, as Lentz throws a leg kick and shovel uppercut to start the fight before moving for a takedown against the cage. Evloev defends well and falls on top, but Lentz looks to lock in a guillotine choke! It gets tighter and tighter and Evloev has to roll through to escape, before rolling through once again to end up back on top. Lentz continue to threaten with the guillotine but Evloev defends well again and ends the round on top firing in some excellent ground and pound. 10-9 Evloev.

Lentz looking to stand in this round and landing well but Evloev trying to up the pace and coming forward with some more awkward striking. Trip attempt from Lentz against the cage and once again he goes for the guillotine and forces Evloev to roll away once again. Lentz seems to be landing the better strikes on the feet but Evloev is doing more damage to the blind eye. Nice uppercut from Evloev lands and Lentz charges forward looking for a trip but misses it. Evloev lands some shots to the eye and it’s causing Lentz some problems, so he goes for a front headlock looking for a guillotine again! Evloev escapes again though and smothers Lentz with a few strikes as they stand up. Round ends against the cage, 20-18 Evloev for me.

Both men choosing to strike in this round, trading jabs and kicks. Lentz looks very tired but is trying to take the centre, while Evloev is bouncing and moving well still. Evloev lands a nice three-punch combo and that gets Lentz to shoot for a takedown but Evloev defends it really well and gets back to the feet quickly. Evloev catches a kick from Lentz and lands a stiff right hand that wobbles Lentz, who looks exhausted now. Evloev dominating the fight now with sharp striking and short combos, really putting a hurting on Lentz. Round comes to an end with Evloev dominating the exchanges again, a beautiful performance. 30-27.

PRELIMS

Marcin Prachnio def Khalil Rountree Jr via Unanimous Decision (29-28 x3)

A cagey start to this one with lots of feints and fakes from both fighters. Prachnio backs Rountree up against the cage and fires off some kicks, but Rountree comes back with some big punches of his own. Prachnio throwing a nice side kick to maintain distance, but Rountree switches to southpaw and starts throwing big straight left hands to steal the round potentially. 10-9 either way, but Rountree for me.

Rountree comes out hard and fast in the second round and wobbles Prachnio immediately but stays patient and doesn’t go for the kill. Some more left hands land from Rountree but Prachnio is swinging wildly and landing on occasion. Big exchange in the centre and then throws a lazy leg kick that gets countered with a powerful left hand. Rountree is countering Prachnio’s strikes really well and then lands a huge left hand that drops Prachnio! He stays patient and then lands a huge head kick but Prachnio keeps it standing and the round ends. Huge end for Rountree. 20-18 for me but could be even.

Big start to the third round for Rountree again as he lands a couple more of those big left hands to open up. Prachnio being a bit more patient and coming forward with his shots but Rountree looking good. Rountree defends two takedowns well and Prachnio starting to work on the body as Rountree is tiring. Lazy swings from Rountree now but then he lands a beautiful counter uppercut. Both men trading strikes in the centre of the octagon looking for a winning punch but the round comes to an end. Great fight, 29-28 Rountree for me but could well be the other way.

Juliana Pena def Sara McMann via Submission (Rear Naked Choke), Round 3 (3:39)

Cagey opening to this fight but both women looking to take this fight on the feet to start with, trading solid shots to the head. McMann fires off with a big right hand, Pena fires back with one of her own. Takedown attempt from McMann and she takes it, quickly progressing to take the back of Pena. She tries to sink the hooks in but doesn’t quite get it and they eventually scramble to a half-guard position with McMann on top. She lands a big elbow from the top and keeps the position for the rest of the round. 10-9 McMann.

Pena comes out with big pressure in the second round and forces McMann to shoot early. Pena looks to lock up a guillotine but McMann defends it really well and passes into guard. Pena being very active off her back, throwing lots of elbows and strikes and looking for submissions. McMann defending the submissions well though and landing some big elbows of her own. She tries to transition to the back but Pena defends well and gets back to the feet against the cage. Clinch position sees both women throw lots of knees to the body, before Pena lands a nice three-punch combo to end the round. 19-19 for me.

Big round for Pena as she comes out heavy with the strikes again before another clinch against the cage. This time Pena goes for a trip and gets it. She starts working the ground and pound from the top with McMann facing down on the ground. Pena takes the back, slaps on a body triangle and immediately goes for a rear naked choke. She sinks it in and McMann taps out. What a performance.

Brad Tavares def Antonio Carlos Junior via Unanimous Decision (30-27 x2, 29-28)

Fast start to the fight for ‘Shoeface’ as the two trade strikes before he shoots for the takedown against the cage. He tries to lift the head above Tavares’ head to send him to the ground but he shows excellent flexibility to deny him. The two then trade big shots in the centre and Shoeface shoots again, powering Tavares across the cage. Tavares manages to keep his balance though and keep the fight standing after a clinch against the cage. A big exchange again sees Shoeface go for the takedown before they clinch against the cage and a big low blow accidentally lands from Shoeface. Fight paused but only a few seconds remain. 10-9 Shoeface.

Better start to the round for Tavares here as he lands some nice strikes before Shoeface changes levels and gets the takedown successfully this time. Shoeface tries to hold him down but Tavares pops back up to his feet again and manages to escape once again. Tavares landing his jab nicely which forces Shoeface to shoot for another takedown but he fails it again. Tavares lands a big one-two against the cage that drops Shoeface! He tries to go for the takedown to recover but Tavares defends it again and looks to land a big knee that misses and hits the cup to cause a pause and allow Shoeface to recover. Round ends with a big body kick from Tavares. 19-19.

Tavares popping his jab out nicely in the final round, keeping Shoeface at a distance. Shoeface shoots for another takedown but once again it’s defended perfectly against the cage and comes out firing big leg kicks. Tavares is slipping the punches of Shoeface now and landing big strikes of his own and defending takedowns too for the rest of the round to claim what should be a decision win for the Hawaiian. 29-28.

Arman Tsarukyan def Matt Frevola via Unanimous Decision (30-27 x2, 30-26)

Fast paced start to this one as Frevola steps out with a wild right hook that misses and Tsarukyan shoots straight in for a takedown and gets it. Frevola scoots back to the cage and gets back to his feet before being lifted and slammed back down. Frevola gets back to his feet quickly again but Tsarukyan continues to stay in the pocket and changes levels for more takedowns. Frevola continues to reverse positions and get back to his feet quickly though and is throwing with great power on the feet to end the round. 10-9 Tsarukyan but could go either way.

Fast start to the second round here too as Tsarukyan comes out and moves straight for a takedown and gets it. He finally manages to hold Frevola down and starts landing some nice ground and pound strikes from the top. Frevola tries to escape but Tsarukyan drags him back down to the ground and starts to dominate. He keeps him down and lands more big strikes and passes position to take the round. 20-18 Tsarukyan.

Final round and Tsarukyan is maintaining a good pace and gets another takedown early. Frevola gets back to the feet quicker this time and the two engage in a bit more of a striking battle. Some great jabs land before more takedowns from Tsarukyan as he starts to hold position and dominate from the top. Fantastic performance and it should be enough to get him the decision. 30-27.

MAIN CARD

Marina Rodriguez def Amanda Ribas via Knockout, Round 2 (0:54)

Good start to the fight for Ribas as she takes the centre of the cage, applies pressure and throws a few flurries of punches. Rodriguez looks to come in with a punch and Ribas slips it and gets a takedown early on. She keeps top position and starts landing some nice ground and pound strikes as Rodriguez looks to defend from her back. Ribas continues to control from the top landing strikes and sees out the round. 10-9 Ribas.

Rodriguez comes out in the second round and lands a huge right hand early that drops Ribas! She lands some huge shots and the referee steps in then steps back out.. Ribas gets back up with Rodriguez celebrating but the fight isn’t over. Rodriguez comes back, lands a huge elbow and two massive right hands before the referee waves it off! What a knockout!

Makhmud Muradov def Andrew Sanchez via Knockout, Round 3 (2:59)

Tense start to this fight with both men bouncing in and out of distance looking to get a reaction from each other. Sanchez shoots in for a takedown but Muradov sprawls and defends it perfectly, as he gets back up quickly and throws some heavy calf kicks. Muradov lands a nice right hand on the chin, but Sanchez eats it well. More calf kicks from Muradov before a nice one-two to the body. Another leg kick but Sanchez throws a nice right hand to counter and lands it well. Muradov goes for a flying knee but Sanchez lands a nice strike. Muradov goes for a takedown with seconds remaining but Sanchez denies it. 10-9 Muradov.

An interesting second round as Muradov continues to look for leg kicks, while Sanchez is closing the distance well and landing a straight right hand. Lots of bouncing and feinting again from both men as Sanchez goes for a takedown against the cage but Muradov defends it well. Muradov lands a nice right hand but Sanchez continues to walk forward and strike. Big left hook from Muradov lands with a straight right behind it. Big flying crane kick from Muradov and a huge right hand behind it opens a big cut on the nose of Sanchez as the round ends. Close round, but that final exchange edges it to Muradov. 20-18.

Slower start to the third round as Muradov looks to take the centre and control the pace. Some nice body shots land before a big right overhand right connects, but Sanchez is still in there firing back. Muradov has abandoned the leg kicks now it seems and is looking for a big knockout. Sanchez lands two big shots, but Muradov returns fire with a big overhand right that makes Sanchez do the chicken dance. Flying knee behind it before some bombs and the referee waves it off. Huge win!

Joanne Calderwood def Jessica Eye via Unanimous Decision (30-27 x2, 29-28)

Fast start to this fight as Calderwood moves in quickly with clinch and lands some dirty boxing and knees to the body. Eye trying to use her physicality edge by wearing Calderwood up against the cage and firing back with strikes of her own. Calderwood landing some nice knees to the body as Eye looks to find a takedown against the cage. Lots of body work in the clinch from both ladies, with slightly more diverse attacking from Calderwood. Very even round.

Eye is marching forward in this round and landing her right hand well, but Calderwood using her length well from the outside. Nice push kicks and a big right hand lands for Calderwood, but Eye fires back with some uppercuts in the clinch and a nice elbow. Huge knee to the face by Calderwood on the break from a clinch and a huge body kick follows it up. Calderwood striking really well from range, althought Eye gets a takedown late on in the round but should still be a Calderwood round. 20-18 or 19-19.

Eye comes out aggressively in the final round and goes straight with a clinch against the cage as she looks for an opportunity for a takedown. Calderwood defending really well but not much action being seen as they battle to a stalemate against the cage and the referee breaks them apart. Clinch in the centre and Calderwood lands some nice knees again, then stuffs a takedown attempt. Nice right hand from Calderwood lands and then she sprawls quickly to deny Eye’s takedown attempt. Final 30 seconds and they clinch again, with both women throwing big knees and Calderwood lands a strike that cuts Eye wide open above the eye! That should be a Calderwood decision win.

Michael Chandler def Dan Hooker via Knockout, Round 1 (2:30)

Very tense start to the bout as the first 90 seconds are essentially just Hooker circling away from Chandler. A few leg kicks land but Chandler keeps coming forward. Long jab to the body and a huge left hook lands and drops Hooker!! He pounces and smashes him on the ground until the referee steps in and ends the fight! Wow! What a debut!

Dustin Poirier def Conor McGregor via Knockout, Round 2 (2:32)

Fast start from McGregor as he comes out into the centre quickly and throws a straight left. Poirier slips another one and returns with a right hook then gets an outside trip and takes the fight to the ground (!?) McGregor scoots back to the cage and works his way back up to his feet. Clinch against the cage and the two exchange shoulder strikes before breaking. The two break and Conor lands a clean left hand on the chin that wobbles Poirier but he stays standing Both guys land nice shots. Poirier working the leg kicks but McGregor fires back to end the round. 10-9 Conor.

Second round and Poirier continues to fire leg kicks and they seem to be hurting Conor more and more. McGregor is struggling to walk on the leg and Poirier is starting to turn the pressure up. Nice shots land and McGregor is hurt. He’s sitting in the pocket and trading, but Poirier is landing heavy shots. He lands a big combination and sits McGregor down! Follows up with a few more but the referee waves it off! Wow!

UFC 257: Poirier vs McGregor – Main Card Predictions

A swift return to action for the UFC as the final instalment of their Fight Island triple header is upon us, with Dustin Poirier taking on Conor McGregor in a lightweight eliminator.

A rematch from six years prior, both men look to put their stamp to a claim to be the next challenger for the 155lbs championship while in the co-main event, two other lightweight contenders scrap to do the same thing. Michael Chandler makes his UFC debut after signing from Bellator to take on Dan Hooker, with both men knowing that a win puts them firmly in the conversation for the next title shot.

A fun 11 fight card is on the horizon here, with plenty of good fights on the undercard to come before the two big bouts of the night.

Last time out at UFC Fight Island 8, we went 12/14 with our picks with four perfect picks to boost us up to 212/327 (64.83%) with 93 perfect picks (43.87%) since starting our picks back in June 2020.

We’ll look to improve that record here and having already predicted the prelim bouts, we take a look at the main card now.

MAIN CARD

** Ottman Azaitar was removed from the card after breaking healthy and safety regulations. He has been released from the UFC.
Nasrat Haqparast didn’t weigh in due to illness. Matt Frevola will now fight Arman Tsarukyan on the prelims.**

Marina Rodriguez (12-1-2) vs Amanda Ribas (10-1) – (Strawweight/115lbs)

An interesting bout at 115lbs as the division’s biggest prospect Amanda Ribas returns to the cage to take on Marina Rodriguez.

Rodriguez’s last two fights have seen her fight Cynthia Calvillo to a draw before a split decision loss to Carla Esparza on Fight Island last year, while Ribas is on a five fight win streak including two wins in 2020 against Randa Markos and a first round submission over Paige VanZant.

Rodriguez has good striking skills as her five knockout wins show, while Ribas is one of the best grapplers in women’s MMA. Rodriguez loves a Muay Thai clinch, and throws great elbows and knees and is also busy off her back as she showed against Esparza. Ribas is one of the best on the ground though with phenomenal jiu-jitsu, and if she gets the fight to the ground she will win this bout. Ultimately I think she will, but it will likely be closer than it looks on the odds.
PICK – Amanda Ribas via Submission, Round 2

Matt Frevola (8-1-1) vs Ottman Azaitar (13-0) – (Lightweight/155lbs)

Another fun lightweight fight on a card made to shine a light on the division, as Matt Frevola makes a return after missing all of 2020 to take on Morocco’s Ottman Azaitar.

Frevola beat Jalin Turner and Luis Pena in 2019, while Azaitar knocked out both Teemu Packalen in 2019 and then Khama Worthy in the first round in Vegas after just 93 seconds. Frevola is a wrestler, who will look to take you down and control from the top while Azaitar is an undefeated striker with tremendous power.

Azaitar’s wrestling isn’t bad, but it’s not as good as Frevola’s. That said, Frevola isn’t the type to strike fear into your heart if he shoots on you. Azaitar should feel confident if he takes the centre of the cage that he will be able to land heavy shots as Frevola tries to close the distance and get a knockout win.
PICK – Ottman Azaitar via Knockout, Round 1

Andrew Sanchez (13-5) vs Makhmud Muradov (24-6) – (Middleweight/185lbs)

A fun fight between two middleweights as former Ultimate Fighter winner Sanchez takes on ‘The Money Team’s’ first MMA fighter, Makhmud Muradov.

Sanchez has won three of his last four, with the defeat coming to Marvin Vettori, before bouncing back with a first round knockout win over Wellington Turman. Muradov is on a 13-fight win streak including wins in his first two UFC fights against Alessio Di Chirico and Trevor Smith back in 2019.

Sanchez is very well rounded, with great wrestling and steady striking, while Muradov is one of the better boxers we’ve seen in MMA. 16 knockout wins in his career show the power he possesses, but his footwork is excellent too and he has the striking edge. It’s a classic clash of styles and we’ve not seen Muradov’s ground game just yet. Sanchez has decided to start striking in his recent fights and if he does that here he’s going to sleep, especially with his cardio issues.
PICK – Makhmud Muradov via Knockout, Round 2

Jessica Eye (15-8) vs Joanne Calderwood (14-5) – (Flyweight/125lbs)

An interesting flyweight fight between two women who want to get back up to the top of the 125lbs division after suffering two losses in their last three fights.

Eye got head kicked into a different stratosphere when she fought Valentina Shevchenko for the title, before bouncing back for a win over Viviane Araujo but then lost her main event against Cynthia Calvillo back in June. Calderwood was preparing for a title shot with ‘Bullet’ but got tired of waiting and took a short notice fight with Jennifer Maia, but lost the fight and her future title shot via first round armbar.

It’s a tight bout between the two, with both women preferring the stand up game to grappling and they’ll play into that with each other. It really is all about who’s more on point on the night, and I think Calderwood has looked better in her recent bouts so will be able to claim a decision win.
PICK – Joanne Calderwood via Decision

Dan Hooker (20-9) vs Michael Chandler (21-5) – (Lightweight/155lbs)

A huge fight at the top of the lightweight division as ‘Hangman’ Hooker takes on ‘Iron’ Michael Chandler.

Hooker has established himself as one of the best lightweights in the world, although he lost his last fight to Dustin Poirier back in June. Prior to that he did beat Paul Felder in a split decision war, Al Iaquinta in a wide decision and KO’d James Vick. Chandler has come over from Bellator after winning their lightweight title three times and comes after consecutive wins over Sidney Outlaw and Benson Henderson.

Chandler has been chinny in his past, as he showed when he was knocked out in the first round by featherweight champ Patricio ‘Pitbull’ Freire in Bellator. Hooker has a crazy power advantage on the feet but Chandler is a crazy good wrestler. He will look for a takedown quickly and if he gets it, he will have control of the fight. That said, I don’t think he can withstand the power of Hooker. Hooker’s footwork is superb, he has power with both hands and he has a big range advantage so I think he gets a stoppage win catching Chandler on the way in for a takedown.
PICK – Dan Hooker via Knockout, Round 2

Dustin Poirier (26-6 1NC) vs Conor McGregor (22-4) – (Lightweight/155lbs)

The return of the Notorious one to the UFC is of course a big deal, but the fact he’s fighting Dustin Poirier makes it even better.

Both men lost to Khabib Nurmagomedov before bouncing back with impressive wins, as Poirier defeated Dan Hooker in a fight of the year contender, while McGregor returned and demolished Donald Cerrone in just 40 seconds last January.

Both men are phenomenal strikers, with a left hand of dreams. McGregor of course knocked Poirier out in just 106 seconds in their first meeting at featherweight back in 2014 but this is a different fight. Both guys are more mature fighters now and much smarter, while Poirier is much more durable at 155lbs. It’s a fight of two halves if you will, with McGregor almost certainly more dangerous in the first two rounds. He’s had conditioning issues in the past and if Poirier can stay in the fight past that point he will likely take over.

With that said both men are still dangerous throughout the entirety of the bout but I do think McGregor can get it done. He still has knockout power, he’s quick, strong and he can take a shot himself. Poirier will look to drag it into the later rounds and turn the pace up but I think McGregor gets a huge win to really announce himself back in the lightweight division.
PICK – Conor McGregor via Knockout, Round 2