UFC 267 takes place tomorrow afternoon from Fight Island and you can see our predictions for all the fights below.
Jan Blachowicz vs. Glover Teixeira
A win over Israel Adesanya last time out took light-heavyweight champ Blachowicz stock to an all-time high and now he’ll go up against an old lion in Teixeira, who remains a force in the division at the age of 41 with five wins in a row to his name.
At this stage in his career Teixeira is not quite the striker he once was. He’s still a threat and has big power, but he is a bit slower than he used to be and doesn’t take a punch as well nowadays.
However, the reason Teixeira’s late career run has been so successful is that he was never a one-trick pony and putting more focus on his very good wrestling and solid submission ability has paid dividends for him.
At 38, Blachowicz is also at that stage where age can become a factor, but for now he’s not shown any distinct signs of decline yet and remains durable, while still retaining his speed.
Blachowicz’s striking success is down to having very good fundamentals, rather than flashy skills, making the most of his jab, leg and body kicks, while his stopping power has been on full display during his recent rise to champion status.
The Polish fighter also backs that up with good wrestling and he has a submission game too, but I do believe that Teixeira has the edge on the mat, so the fact that Blachowicz’s defense has improved over time could be an important factor.
As such I think Blachowicz will be able to keep this fight upright for the most part and due to the fact that Teixeira doesn’t have the durability or speed that he once did, that will lean the fight in the champion’s favor, leading to a third round TKO win.
Pick: Jan Blachowicz wins by TKO in Rd3.
Petr Yan vs. Cory Sandhagen
With an illegal knee DQ loss against Aljamain Sterling having ended Yan’s title reign at bantamweight, he now looks to seize the interim belt against Cory Sandhagen, who is coming off a split decision loss to TJ Dillashaw, but is on a 7-2 run overall in the UFC.
This is a great match-up between two strikers who push an incredible pace due to their relentless volume of strikes. They aren’t just throwing for the sake of it either, with both possessing fight-ending power.
Sandhagen likes to operate from range and has a 4″ height and 3″ reach advantage here, and he’s the more versatile of the two with his output. That being said, Yan is technically sound, has very heavy hands, a chin of steel and unrelenting forward pressure.
In addition to that, the former champion is also a good wrestler and also has robust takedown defense, so if the fight hits the mat for any other reason than a knockdown it’s more likely to be on his terms.
I expect this one to play out on the feet for the most part though and I think Yan’s ability to close the distance while throwing seriously heavy leather is going to stifle some of Sandhagen’s best work from range and enable him to land the better shots, which may lead him to a finish, although I’ll take him to win a hard-fought decision instead.
Pick: Petr Yan wins by decision.
Islam Makhachev vs. Dan Hooker
With eight wins in a row under his belt, Makhachev has become a dominant force at 155lbs and is now starting to get bigger fights, starting with Hooker, who stepped in on a month’s notice to replace Rafael dos Anjos soon after picking up a win over Nasrat Haqparast.
Makhachev is such a daunting opponent because he’s an incredibly dominant wrestler who is reminiscent of his long-time teammate Khabib Nurmagomedov in that he will relentlessly land takedowns. He might not have the same ferocity of ground-and-pound as the former champ, but he can control opponents on the mat, has a submission game too, and is a bit more potent of a striker than ‘The Eagle’ was for much of his time in the UFC.
So Hooker will have his work cut out for him if this fight goes to the mat as he’s very much a striker first and foremost, and a good one at that.
Hooker will have a 2″ height and 5″ reach advantage, which he’ll attempt to use to keep Makhachev at bay with rangey punches and kicks, while looking to utilize his accurate knees at closer range.
Hooker’s takedown defense has generally been solid, but against this level of wrestler I find it hard to imagine that he’s going to be able to ward off the chains of takedown attempts that are going to be coming his way, and so I’d expect to see Makhachev get this fight to the mat early and often to grind out a decision victory.
Pick: Islam Makhachev wins by decision.
Alexander Volkov vs. Marcin Tybura
Volkov lost to the heavyweight division’s next title challenger Ciryl Gane last time out and now goes up against Tybura, whose not received much hype despite having racked up a five-fight winning streak lately.
The reason for that is that Tybura has a bit of a workmanlike style. He’s not a physical specimen, there’s nothing eye-catching about his striking ability, but he can trade when necessary, has power and his clinch-work and wrestling can wear down his opponents.
The lanky Volkov is 4″ taller and has 3″ in reach over Tybura though, and he has the more technical striking game of the two, makes use of long straight punches, push kicks and footwork to maintain distance effectively and keeps up a solid volume of strikes throughout.
If Tybura can get this fight to the mat he could have a real advantage, but I think Volkov will be able to keep him at bay and pick him apart at range to secure a win on the scorecards.
Pick: Alexander Volkov wins by decision.
Li Jingliang vs. Khamzat Chimaev
Chimaev was one of the most talked about prospects last year after impressively winning three fights in three months, but since then he’s faced a long battle against a debilitating case of long-Covid that became so bad it had the 27-year-old contemplating retirement at one point.
It appears that he has finally shaken that off though and is now going up against Jingliang, who KO’d Santiago Ponzinibbio earlier in the year and has won four of his last five fights.
Chimaev has shown an ability to manhandle opponents almost effortlessly with his very strong wrestling game, with his ground-and-pound and submission ability only adding further misery to the mix for his opponents. On top of that, while this fight is being contested at 170lbs, Chimaev has demonstrated finishing power even at 185lbs, and will have a 2″ height and 3″ reach advantage of Jingliang too.
Nevertheless, this is not a case of the UFC picking an easy opponent for Chimaev’s return as Jingliang is an aggressive and very capable all-rounder who pushes a high pace and throws hard-hitting bombs on the feet, while he’s also durable and is a black belt in BJJ.
If Chimaev has been compromised by his prolonged battle with Covid then Jingliang could really test his cardio and resolve here, but in the end I think Chimaev’s wrestling will be too much for him, leading to a second round TKO stoppage via ground-and-pound.
Pick: Khamzat Chimaev wins by TKO in Rd2.
Magomed Ankalaev vs. Volkan Oezdemir
Ankalaev is on a six-fight winning streak heading into this fight, while Oezdemir has gone 2-3 since a failed title challenge against Daniel Cormier back in 2018 and is returning after a KO loss last time out.
Ankalaev is a well-rounded fighter who has a very composed yet powerful technical striking game from range, but also has an equally solid wrestling game too, which makes him hard to beat.
Oezdemir is also a good striker with KO power and he puts his combinations together well, but I don’t believe his striking is as clean and calculated as his opponent’s here, and he has been stopped a couple of times now during his UFC run.
I think Ankalaev’s more clinical and composed work on the outside will win out here, while mixing in occasional takedown attempts if required in order to secure a decision win.
Pick: Magomed Ankalaev wins by decision.
Amanda Ribas vs. Virna Jandiroba
Ricardo Ramos vs. Zubaira Tukhugov
Albert Duraev vs. Roman Kopylov
Shamil Gamzatov vs. Michal Oleksiejczuk
Makwan Amirkhani vs. Lerone Murphy
Hu Yaozong vs. Andre Petroski
Magomed Mustafaev vs. Damir Ismagulov
Tagir Ulanbekov vs. Allan Nascimento