Paul Craig (16-5) vs Johnny Walker (19-7) – (Light Heavyweight/205lbs)
An absolutely crazy fight at 205-pounds opens up the main card here. Craig is a submission specialist who was on a four-fight winning streak of finishes, before Volkan Oezdemir managed to halt that with a decision win at UFC London in July. Walker is a crazy knockout artist who lost three in a row before stepping into the cage with Ion Cutelaba last time out, where he claimed a first-round submission win.
Craig is a powerhouse of a grappler and one of the best submissions artists in the entire UFC. He is an okay striker, but he’s one of the few fighters who is happy to pull guard and give up position to start working his active guard. Walker is a one-punch killer with his striking, but he also has good grappling skills as shown in his last outing.
This is going to be absolutely wild for as long as it lasts. If it hits the ground for an extended period of time then you can’t rule Craig out of getting the finish. Walker will fancy his chances on the feet and even on the ground if he stays alert. Craig has shown me up plenty of times in the past, but I just expect Walker to be able to stay safe to avoid grappling exchanges and land heavy enough shots to claim the win. PICK – Johnny Walker via Decision
Lauren Murphy (16-5) vs Jessica Andrade (23-9) – (Flyweight/125lbs)
An interesting flyweight scrap at the top of the division. Murphy was dominated in her title fight against Valentina Shevchenko, but bounced back with a dominant win of her own against Miesha Tate last time out. Andrade has won her last two since her own title fight defeat to Shevchenko, KO’ing Cynthia Calvillo and then submitting Amanda Lemos with a standing arm-triangle choke.
Murphy is a solid wrestler who looks to chain her takedown attempts together and grind her opponents out against the cage, while Andrade is a powerhouse of a striker who is also a really good grappler. There is an argument that Andrade is the most complete women’s fighter after the three champions, and this looks like another fight where she should win more often than not.
Andrade is the better grappler, by far the better striker and her cardio has never let her down. There is a big size discrepancy again, which Murphy will almost certainly try to take advantage of, but it’ll be hard. If she gets the fight down she’ll struggle to keep it there, and on the feet she risks being KO’d. Back the Brazilian to get it done. PICK – Jessica Andrade via Knockout, Round 2
Gilbert Burns (20-5) vs Neil Magny (27-10) – (Welterweight/170lbs)
A big welterweight scrap up next in the final bout before we get to the titles. Burns has lost two of his last three, losing in a title fight against Kamaru Usman before dropping a razor close decision to Khamzat Chimaev last time out. He beat Stephen “Wonderboy” Thompson between those. Magny on the other hand has won three of his last four, bouncing back from defeat to Shavkat Rakhmonov to submit Daniel Rodriguez in his last outing.
Burns is a complete fighter. He has got scary knockout power on the feet and super heavy kicks, while he’s one of the best jiu-jitsu practitioners in the UFC and excellent wrestling too. Magny on the other hand is a wrestling specialist who looks to overwhelm his opponents, while also using his range to strike when necessary. This is a very intriguing bout, but one that Burns should be able to win without too much trouble.
“Durinho” is by far the better fighter on the feet, with a great finishing instinct and the cardio to be able to push hard for the full fight as shown against Chimaev. There is also an argument that he is a better and more effective wrestler, but even if he isn’t he’s still incredibly dangerous on the ground when on his back because of his active guard. Burns should control this wherever it goes, and I think he could work his ground game to get a choke after a dominant display. PICK – Gilbert Burns via Submission, Round 2
Deiveson Figueiredo (21-2-1) vs Brandon Moreno (20-6-2) – (Flyweight/125lbs)
The greatest flyweight rivalry in MMA history, never mind UFC history. Figueiredo and Moreno have gone 1-1-1 in their trilogy, which makes up each of Figueiredo’s last three fights. Moreno claimed a KO win over Kai Kara France most recently to become interim champion and set up this quadrilogy bout.
Figueiredo is the scariest puncher in the 125-pound division, with otherworldly power to go along with his excellent jiu-jitsu skills that saw him submit Joseph Benavidez to win the belt initially. Moreno is also incredibly well-rounded with excellent striking to go with his own submission game as well as his fantastic scrambles to get up on his feet.
This fight is impossible to pick. I picked Figueiredo the first time when he won three of five rounds but had a point deducted for a low blow, and then picked incorrectly in the second and third fights, so bear that in mind. But I think it’s Moreno’s time. He got the finish in the second bout, and the third was extremely close, plus he’s fought more recently and doesn’t struggle with the weight cut nearly as much. Expect another 25 minute war, and the Mexican to claim victory on enemy territory. PICK – Brandon Moreno via Decision
Glover Teixeira (33-8) vs Jamahal Hill (11-1) – (Light Heavyweight/205lbs)
A super strange light heavyweight title fight up next as the main event of this card. Teixeira won the title by submitting Jan Blachowicz, but then lost it in his first defence against Jiri Prochazka. He was supposed to fight Prochazka again at UFC 282, before the Czech figher got injured and withdrew. Hill has won his last three in a row, all by knockout, but was preparing for Anthony Smith in March until that night in December where he got the call.
Teixeira is a fantastic boxer with brilliant power and combinations, while he is also among the best grapplers in the division with his brilliant submission game. Hill is a knockout artist with incredible one-punch power, but he is also a jiu-jitsu black belt although he tends to very rarely use that. If this is on the feet, that is where Hill has his best chance to win. He’s so powerful that one punch can alter the fight, and Teixeira is now 43 yers old.
But the Brazilian took all of Prochazka’s best shots, and I believe Prochazka would dominate Hill. He also controlled Blachowicz with ease, and I believe Blachowicz is better than Hill too. So it would be a huge surprise if Teixeira didn’t step forward with pressure, land an early takedown and put a beating on Hill to become a two-time UFC champion in his home country. PICK – Glover Teixeira via Submission, Round 2
The UFC heads to Singapore for only the fifth time ever for UFC 275 this weekend as we’re treated to two huge title fights in the main events.
Glover Teixeira will defend the light heavyweight title for the first time when he takes on Jiri Prochazka in the headline fight, while Valentina Shevchenko will defend her flyweight title for the seventh time against first-time challenger Taila Santos.
We’ll also see the hotly anticipated rematch between Weili Zhang and Joanna Jedrzejczyk as well as the likes of Manel Kape, Brendan Allen and Andre Fialho competing too.
We come into this card after a small break from picks. We sit at 634/987 (64.24%) with 272 perfect picks (42.9%) and you can see our total picks list here.
Jack Della Maddalena (11-2) vs Ramazan Emeev (20-5) – (Welterweight/170lbs)
A really, really fun 170-pound scrap to open up this main card. Maddalena lost his first two professional fights but has gone unbeaten ever since, KO’ing Pete Rodriguez in his UFC debut at UFC 270 earlier this year. Emeev on the other hand is a decision machine, but was on the wrong end of a split decision against Danny Roberts last time out back in October.
Maddalena is a striking expert with a switch stance that allows him to throw power from both sides and with his hands and kicks. Emeev on the hand is a typical Dagestani fighter, with wrestling primarily and a strength that means he can hold people down and bore them into defeat. It’s a complete clash of styles and fans will be hopeful that Maddalena wins, because it means excitement.
Emeev will undoubtedly look for takedowns and use his heavy top pressure to keep the fight there for as long as possible, but he does very little damage while in that position. Maddalena will want to land heavy while standing but will know he’s still in the fight so long as the clock is ticking. Emeev’s takedown entries get worse as the fight wears on and by the time the third comes around he’s shattered, and Maddalena is the type to be able to punish him with just one opportunity. PICK – Jack Della Maddalena via Knockout, Round 3
Rogerio Bontorin (16-4) vs Manel Kape (17-6) – (Flyweight/125lbs)
Very exciting flyweight bout on the main card heading towards the top of the rankings. Bontorin has lost three of his last four, with one no contest in the middle of that, to be winless since way back in 2019. Kape suffered defeat in his first two UFC fights due to a lack of volume, but earned a highlight reel KO over Ode Osbourne at UFC 265 before a brilliant KO over Zhalgas Zhumagulov most recently at UFC Vegas 44.
Bontorin is a well-rounded fighter who has solid striking and great wrestling to use his solid submission game which has earned him 11 wins via tap out throughout his career. Kape on the other hand is an explosive striker who uses low kicks and movement before exploding with blitzes of strikes to hurt his opponents. His wrestling defence hasn’t been great in the UFC but in a fight that could be chaotic, it could really suit him.
Kape will want to get into exchanges to use his amazing hand speed and land first, but Bontorin will be aware of that and will look to get in close and grapple. Kape is a great scrambler though and their recent fights show Kape is adjusting well while Bontorin is struggling. Expect a close fight, but Kape to land the more eye-catching shots to earn the decision. PICK – Manel Kape via Decision
Andre Fialho (16-4) vs Jake Matthews (17-5) – (Welterweight/170lbs)
Absolute banger at welterweight in this one. Fialho appears on his third card in three months after KO wins over Miguel Baeza and then Cameron VanCamp, while Matthews makes his first appearance in 15 months after suffering defeat to Sean Brady at UFC 259 in his most recent bout.
Fialho is a terrific boxer who uses great power and positioning to outstrike opponents and while he has good grappling defence, he tends to try and keep fights standing. Matthews on the other hand looks to take his opponents down and implement his fearsome top game with relentless pressure and good wrestling. This one boils down to who wins the battle of where the fight will take place, and usually I’d back the wrestler.
But the Portuguese fighter showed against Stefan Sekulic that he is more than capable of defending himself in those positions and he has a nasty set of hooks that could catch Matthews out if he drops his hands for a takedown. Momentum is a big thing in fighting, so I’m leaning towards the power of Fialho to claim the win. PICK – Andre Fialho via Knockout, Round 2
Zhang Weili (21-3) vs Joanna Jedrzejczyk (16-4) – (Strawweight/115lbs)
The greatest fight in women’s MMA history gets a rematch. Zhang Weili earned a win over Jedrzejczyk in their first bout back at UFC 248, but suffered back-to-back defeats to Rose Namajunas at UFC 261 and UFC 268 most recently while Joanna hasn’t fought since their first fight.
Weili is an incredibly well-rounded fighter with tremendous power in her hands, great speed and some great wrestling too to be able to mix it up. Jedrzejczyk on the other hand is one of the finest kickboxers in WMMA history who has got very good wrestling defence too. The first fight was splitting hairs to decide a winner but I don’t expect this second bout to be as close.
Jedrzejczyk has been away for over two years enjoying the fruits of her labour, while Weili has been learning from defeats and getting better. She has the hands and striking to be able to stand with Joanna if needs be, but I expect her to be more wrestling heavy this time around and even get a finish to earn the next title shot. PICK – Weili Zhang via Knockout, Round 2
Valentina Shevchenko (22-3) vs Taila Santos (19-1) – (Flyweight/125lbs)
‘Bullet’ Valentina wants to make a statement but there is a Brazilian who wants to spoil the party. Shevchenko is on an eight-fight win streak and looking to defend her title for the 7th time, after a KO win over Lauren Murphy at UFC 266 most recently. Santos lost her UFC debut but has won her last four in a row, picking up a dominant submission win over Joanne Wood last time out.
Shevchenko may be the most complete MMA fighter in the world, male or female, with amazing grappling combined with next level striking skills and knockout power. Santos however has shown a tremendously complete game herself with vicious knockout power, good wrestling skills and some jiu-jitsu also. Stylistically these two are very similar, but from what we’ve seen of them both Shevchenko is simply a level or two above everyone in her weight class.
Santos has made it clear that she plans to grapple her way to victory and Jennifer Maia showed there is a path there, but this is a huge step up in competition. Shevchenko tends to dictate the tempo of fights and as good as I believe Santos is, it’s nigh on impossible to pick against Shevchenko. I think it’ll be tougher than some of her more recent defences though, and I think it goes the distance. PICK – Valentina Shevchenko via Decision
Glover Teixeira (33-7) vs Jiri Prochazka (28-3-1) – (Light Heavyweight/205lbs)
Light heavyweight needs a big boost and this title fight could be exactly what the division needs as the championship is on the line. Teixeira is on a six-fight win streak and fights for the first time since submitting Jan Blachowicz to win the belt at UFC 267, while Prochazka makes his third UFC appearance after separating both Volkan Oezdemir (UFC 251) and Dominick Reyes (UFC Vegas 25) from their consciousness in his first two.
The champ is a brilliant boxer who uses great combinations to open up the chance for takedowns, where he can use his incredible jiu-jitsu skills and dominate the fight on the ground. Prochazka on the other hand is a violent striker who is every bit a sibling of the Terminator, walking through shots to inflict damage and having crazy show-stopping power. He has notoriously struggled against takedown artists in his career though, and that could be a problem.
However, despite that, Teixeira is 42-years-old and a lot of his most recent wins have come after being hurt by heavy-handed punchers. Prochazka will know that every fight starts standing and will force Teixeira backwards to try and shunt any takedown threat. If he gets taken down it will be a huge problem, but I expect him to slump the champ before that happens and claim a violent finish to become champion. PICK – Jiri Prochazka via Knockout, Round 2
But we will also see the return of Khamzat Chimaev as he takes on Gilbert Burns in a bout that UFC president Dana White has admitted will serve as a title eliminator bout in the welterweight division.
The following week will see another welterweight clash serve as the main event in the Apex, as Vicente Luque takes on Belal Muhammad at UFC Vegas 51.
Down at 135-pounds at the end of April we’ll see a top contender bout between Rob Font and Marlon Vera battle in the main event of UFC Vegas 53, before UFC 274 takes place from Phoenix, Arizona.
Originally scheduled to be in Brazil, we’ll now get the 155-pound title fight between Charles Oliveira and Justin Gaethje in the headline slot in Gaethje’s home state, while Rose Namajunas and Carla Esparza will meet in their long-anticipated rematch for the strawweight title in the co-main event.
We’ll also see an amazing lightweight bout between Michael Chandler and Tony Ferguson on that card, as well as a stack of other amazing fights.
The following week the UFC is targeting the rescheduled main event from the UFC Columbus card in the light heavyweight division between Jan Blachowicz and Aleksandar Rakic, as well as a fun fight between Katlyn Chookagian and Amanda Ribas.
Then at UFC 275 the delayed light heavyweight title fight between Glover Teixeira and Jiri Prochazka will take place, while ‘Bullet’ Valentina Shevchenko will fight Taila Santos for the flyweight championship in the co-main event.
We’ll also see the return of Robert Whittaker at that event, as he is scheduled to take on Marvin Vettori in the middleweight division to get back on the title trail once again.
Dana White has also confirmed that the organisation are expecting welterweight champion Kamaru Usman to return in the summer, and he has promised the next title fight to British fighter Leon Edwards with the target aimed for international fight week in July.
It’s a great year coming up, so keep your eyes on Tap Ins & Tap Outs for coverage of all these events coming up.
The UFC has announced a light heavyweight title fight as their main event for UFC 274 in May.
Champion Glover Teixeira will make the first defence of his title just six months after winning the belt, when he takes on number one contender Jiri Prochazka in the main event.
The card is scheduled to be held on May 7th, although there is currently no official location for the event.
Teixeira was crowned UFC champion for the first time in his career at the age of 42 back in October at UFC 267, when he submitted Jan Blachowicz in the second round of their bout.
He is currently on a six-fight win streak which includes stoppage wins over Anthony Smith and Thiago Santos at UFC Vegas 13 too.
Prochazka on the other hand came to the UFC as a former RIZIN champion and had a point to prove.
He has gone 2-0 in the UFC with vicious knockout wins over Volkan Oezdemir in his debut at UFC 251, before smashing Dominick Reyes with a knockout of the year contender at UFC Vegas 25 in May last year.
Overall he is on a 12-fight winning streak, with 11 of those fights ending via knockout. He has 25 of 28 wins career victories via knockout and has an overall record of 28-3-1.
Teixeira is currently the oldest first-time champion in UFC history and is looking to hold on to the belt for long enough to eventually surpass Randy Couture’s record of being the oldest champion in history.
To do that he will need to defeat one of the most dangerous 205-pounders in recent memory, with a vicious streak and incredible pace-setting ability.
The UFC’s return to Fight Island at the weekend was a rousing success as UFC 267 provided some incredibly memorable moments in Abu Dhabi.
A super-stacked card saw a new champion crowned as Glover Teixeira finally reached the top of the mountain by submitting Jan Blachowicz in the second-round, while Petr Yan reclaimed his title with a brilliant decision win over Cory Sandhagen.
On top of that however, we found out the hype behind Khamzat Chimaev is very real as he dominated against Li Jingliang to a first-round submission win.
After over a year out of the cage and a long, hard battle with COVID-19 the question marks around Chimaev were genuine. When he struggled to make weight before the bout too, eyebrows were raised even more.
But once he stepped into the octagon all those doubts were washed away within seconds. Chimaev ducked under a punch and immediately secured a takedown, lifting Li up and walking him across the octagon while shouting at Dana White for looking at his phone during the fight.
He then put him down, landed some strikes and worked for a submission, securing a rear-naked choke that put Li to sleep in just 196 seconds.
It means Chimaev has absorbed just two strikes in his entire UFC run to date, which stretches to four wins and four finishes now, a stunning record.
He will now break into the top ten in the rankings this week and with only big names ahead of him and a championship fight in his division this weekend, 2022 could be a huge year for the Swedish fighter.
In the title picture up a couple of weights, Teixeira was finally able to reach the top of the mountain aged 42 thanks to a big win.
It was the second time lucky for the Brazilian as he finally claimed the light heavyweight championship, but the future doesn’t look much easier for him.
Jiri Prochazka weighed-in as the back-up to the title fight and has been confirmed as the next contender for the belt, meaning Teixeira will need to defeat an absolute demon in the striking world who is in the peak of his career.
With 25 knockout wins from 28 career victories, Prochazka offers a completely different threat with his incredibly unorthodox striking and Teixeira will need to use his grappling and jiu-jitsu as best as possible to stand any chance of win on the night.
Petr Yan also claimed another title win with an excellent win over Cory Sandhagen, growing stronger and stronger as the fight went on to continue to prove himself as the best 135lbs fighter in the world currently.
He proved to everyone that he is comfortably the best striker in the division but also that his wrestling is still among the best around, making a rematch with Aljamain Sterling seem even more like a foregone conclusion.
He called for a fight against TJ Dillashaw next instead of Sterling, despite winning the interim title, in a fight that would pit two of the world’s best against each other once more in the most stacked division around.
With UFC 268 coming up this weekend, the title pictures in the UFC could be about to change drastically once more but UFC 267 was a truly excellent card.
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!!
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.
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!!
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
It’s been over a year since Jan Blachowicz laid claim to the throne in the light heavyweight division and took over from Jon Jones as champion.
An excellent performance against Dominick Reyes at UFC 253 saw him earn the knockout victory and end the long road to a title that he had been pushing for, for years.
It was his 15th fight with the organisation, which started with four defeats in his first six bouts between 2014 and 2017.
Following a defeat to Patrick Cummins at UFC 210, Blachowicz went to the well and honed his craft.
Six months later he returned to the cage in his homeland of Poland to submit Devin Clark, before a decision win over now middleweight contender Jared Cannonier meant he ended the year with some momentum.
He then avenged his loss to Jimi Manuwa the following year and then stopped Nikita Krylov via submission to make it three post-fight bonuses in four fights. He had arrived.
A knockout defeat to Thiago Santos followed, as the Brazilian made his own ascent towards a title challenge. But Blachowicz refused to lie down and built back up once again.
He starched Luke Rockhold at UFC 239 with a stunning knockout, before a split decision win over Jacare Souza in Brazil. He followed that up with a knockout win over current Bellator contender Corey Anderson to make it two more performance bonuses in three fights before the title fight with Reyes.
After dominating Reyes in that fight, his first defence came against middleweight champion Israel Adesanya, who was moving up as an undefeated fighter to try and become a double champ.
But despite dominant displays in his two title fights, there are still question marks over his reign.
He never beat the long-time champion to win the belt, and his first defence came against an under-sized opponent who he didn’t even finish. At UFC 267 though, he will take on the official number one contender and experienced Glover Teixeira.
It’s a fight that is hard to believe has never happened before, but these two experienced giants are without a doubt two of the very best in the world in their division.
Teixeira is a super talented boxer on the feet, with one of the nastiest ground games in all of the UFC. This is a genuine test for Blachowicz, who is taking the bout seriously and readying himself for war.
But while question marks remain over his reign, there will be none should he leave UFC 267 victorious on Saturday night. He will be the undisputed best light heavyweight in the world, and his belt will prove it.
However the card was due to be co-headlined by ‘Lioness’ Amanda Nunes defending her bantamweight title against Julianna Pena. But the UFC have announced that the double champ and greatest women’s mixed martial artist ever has tested positive for COVID-19 and the fight has now been scrapped.
The UFC revealed that the plan is still for that fight to take place eventually once Nunes is fully healthy and capable, with a December defence now pencilled in instead.
Two months later will see UFC 267 take place, but it won’t be a pay-per-view card despite the fact it will host TWO title fights!
Jan Blachowicz will defend his light heavyweight title against Glover Teixeira, in a bout that has been moved from it’s original date of September 4th to October 30th in Abu Dhabi on Fight Island.
The UFC moved the bout as they looked to host a card in London in September, however they have been unsuccessful in doing so and that card will now take place in Las Vegas at the Apex as originally planned.
UFC 267 will also see the highly anticipated rematch between Aljamain Sterling and Petr Yan for the bantamweight title after their initial fight ended in disqualification and a new champion back at UFC 259.
According to Ariel Helwani however, this card won’t be a normal pay-per-view card despite it being a numbered event and will air for free on ESPN+ in the USA (BT Sport as usual in the UK).
The reason for this is because the following week on November 6th, UFC 268 will take place and will be headlined by welterweight champion Kamaru Usman defending his title against long-time rival Colby Covington in a rematch.
Usman defeated Covington back in December 2019 at UFC 245, securing a knockout win in the fifth round and breaking Covington’s jaw in the process in one of the greatest welterweight title fights in UFC history.
He previously fought for the title in 2014 against Jon Jones, but was dominated to a five-round decision defeat at UFC 172.
Both men had expressed an interest in fighting each other prior to the Adesanya bout rearing it’s head and after Blachowicz secured the huge win and it became clear that Jones has no interest in returning to light heavyweight, this was the obvious fight to make on both sides.
Blachowicz has shown a well-rounded game during this five-fight win streak of his own, with three of those wins coming via knockout to add to his nine career submission wins before that. He has shown an excellent fight IQ to mix up his attacks and has proven that he is a more than credible threat and a legitimate champion.
For Teixeira, he’s turned his game on its head recently. A Brazilian jiu-jitsu expert, Glover had previously been known more for his brilliant boxing ability. But three of his last five wins have come via submission and he will need to mix up his game for this upcoming title fight in September to get the better of the legendary Polish power.