UFC 267 Prelim Card
Flyweights Tagir Ulanbekov and Allan Nascimento will kick off the event. This should be a comfortable win for the Dagestan native Ulanbekov who is a big favorite.
Magomed Mustafaev returns to action when he faces Damir Ismagulov in a lightweight encounter. Ismagulov, who is 4-0 in the UFC, is expected to come out on top and make it five in a row.
Middleweights collide as Yaozong Hu meets Andre Petroski. Petroski is more experienced than Hu who holds a 3-2 professional record and should come away with the victory.
Makwan Amirkhani will look to return to the win column against Lerone Murphy. Despite his experience, however, Mr. Finland is a big underdog against the undefeated Briton in Murphy who is favored to get the win. Makwan has been working on his cardio, and I’d put a play here on the underdog to pull off an upset.
Shamil Gamzatov meets Michal Oleksiejczuk in light heavyweight action. Gamzatov remains unbeaten with a 14-0 record and is a slight favorite over Oleksiejczuk who recently snapped a two-fight losing skid.
Elizeu Zaleski dos Santos takes on the undefeated Benoit Saint-Denis in a welterweight clash. Despite coming off a loss as well as two in his last three, dos Santos is favored to get the win.
Middleweights are also in action as Albert Duraev meets Roman Kopylov. Expect Duraev to come out on top as oddsmakers are big on his chances.
An exciting featherweight clash between Ricardo Ramos and Zubaira Tukhugov is also on the cards. Tukhugov is coming off a split decision loss to Hakeem Dawodu, but is slightly favored over Ramos.
The featured prelim bout sees a clash of Brazilians as Amanda Ribas and Virna Jandiroba square-off in a women's strawweight encounter. Vandiroba is a powerhouse and presents a ground threat, but even coming off a knockout defeat in her last outing to the hot prospect Marina Rodriguez, Ribas should do enough to edge this as she has done over other ground specialists as Randa Markos and Mackenzie Dern.
UFC 267 Main Card
Magomed Ankalaev (15-1) v Volkan Oezdemir (17-5)
The main card opens up with an enticing light heavyweight encounter between contenders Magomed Ankalaev and Volkan Oezdemir. Ankalev is coming off of a unanimous decision win over Nikita Krylov.
However, the Dagestan native has also won his last six in a row and one more win could give him the next title shot.
“No Time” is coming off a brutal knockout defeat to Jiri Prochazka last summer which snapped a two-fight winning streak.
The Swiss fighter will be looking to get back to winning ways, but will have a tough time as Ankalaev is simply more well-rounded and as a result, a heavy betting favorite to make it seven wins in a row.
Khamzat Chimaev (9-0) v Li Jingliang (18-6)
It’s been over a year but Khamzat Chimaev finally returns to action when he faces Li Jingliang in a big welterweight affair.
Chimaev hasn’t competed since a stunning 17-second knockout win over Gerald Meerschaert last September because of various issues, mostly stemming from COVID-19.
Jingliang, meanwhile, returned to the win column with an emphatic knockout victory over Santiago Ponzinibbio in January. In total, he has also won four of his last five.
But even with the long layoff, it’s hard to bet against Chimaev who should use his grappling to devastating effect and get a big win. Expect the ”Wolf” hype train to pick up quickly with another win.
Alexander Volkov (33-9) v Marcin Tybura (22-6)
European heavyweights collide as Alexander Volkov takes on Marcin Tybura. Russia’s Volkov is coming off a unanimous decision defeat to interim heavyweight champion Ciryl Gane after getting outpointed by him over five rounds back in June.
Poland’s Tybura, meanwhile, is on the best run of his UFC career as he is on a five-fight winning streak and coming off a TKO win over Walt Harris in June. Volkov is a high-level striker with a solid chin and should get a win over “Tybur”.
Islam Makhachev (20-1) v Dan Hooker (21-10)
An exciting lightweight clash between Islam Makhachev and Dan Hooker also features on the main card. Makhachev has title aspirations and is backed by an eight-fight winning streak, having recently submitted Thiago Moises in July.
Hooker, on the other hand, competed just over a month ago when he outpointed Nasrat Haqparast to snap a two-fight losing streak.
The New Zealander was set to travel home but with Rafael dos Anjos pulling out against Makhachev, decided to step in on short notice against the feared Russian.
Hooker presents some physical challenges to Makhachev which could make this a very interesting matchup. But while the short notice doesn’t help, even with a full camp, most observers would not pick Hooker to come out on top simply because of Makhachev’s elite grappling ability. Expect a dominant decision win for Makhachev.
Petr Yan (15-2) v Cory Sandhagen (14-3)
The co-main event features an interim bantamweight title fight between former champion Petr Yan and Cory Sandhagen.
Yan lost his bantamweight title to Aljamain Sterling after illegally kneeing him at UFC 259 back in March to suffer a disqualification defeat. The rematch was expected to take place this weekend only for Sterling to pull out due to post-surgery issues on his neck.
Sandhagen, who is coming off a razor-thin split decision defeat to former champion TJ Dillashaw in July, has stepped in for a rare opportunity for a belt while coming off of a loss.
While it snapped a two-fight winning streak for Sandhagen, many observers felt he was more than deserving of the victory over Dillashaw, himself included. As fate would have it, Dillashaw is on the sidelines and Sandhagen now gets to challenge Yan for UFC gold.
Yan and Sandhagen are undoubtedly two of the best and most well-rounded bantamweights in the world, so fans are left with a deserving belt holder.
Sandhagen is the more creative striker with plenty of physical advantages. However, Yan possesses phenomenal boxing and grappling in addition to a mean clinch game, which favors the Russian in many areas.
Sandhagen does have length to his advantage and could damage at reach, but Petr is just too good and with 25 minutes to get it done, should leave with a victory to set up a rematch for the title against the “Funk Master”.
Jan Blachowicz (28-8) v Glover Teixeira (32-7)
The main event showcases a light heavyweight title battle between current champion Jan Blachowicz and Glover Teixeira.
Blachowicz is coming off a unanimous decision victory over middleweight king Israel Adesanya at UFC 259 back in March, beating the smaller title holder. It was his first title defense while he also inflicted Adesanya’s first professional defeat.
As for himself, it made it five wins in a row as well as nine in his last ten –only loss to Thiago Santos-- as the 38-year old Polish superstar is undoubtedly in the prime of his career.
The veteran Teixeira is having a late-career resurgence at the age of 41. The Brazilian is coming off a submission win over former title challenger Thiago Santos in November.
That made it five wins in a row and paved the way to becoming a UFC champion. It won’t be easy, but if he gets it to the ground, he could finish Jan. However, it remains to be seen if he can get Blachowicz down there while avoiding the Blachowicz heavy hands.
While Teixeira has shown to be durable even in recent years, he lacks the power and speed of the champion who could end up just outstriking him over five rounds or landing a KO shot. Blachowicz by finish would be my play.