UFC 267: Błachowicz vs. Teixeira Predictions
Jan Blachowicz vs. Glover Teixeira
205lb champ Blachowicz is now on a five-fight winning streak and will be brimming with confidence on Saturday night after besting middleweight kingpin Israel Adesanya last time out, but at the ripe old age of 41, Teixeira remains a serious threat, as evidenced by his own five-fight unbeaten run.
A big key to Teixeira’s longevity has been his switch to focusing on a more ground-based game in the latter stages of his career after clear signs of slowing down and becoming less durable started to compromise his stand-up game.
That being said, Teixeira is still a threat offensively on the feet and carries good power, but he’s always had the ability to transition smoothly to his strong wrestling game, backed up by a savvy submission threat, and his willingness to pursue those areas more than ever has become a real headache for his opponents.
Blachowicz is a well-rounded fighter too though, and while he’s no spring-chicken himself at 38-years-old, at this stage in their respective careers his chin still seems a bit sturdier and he will have a speed advantage too.
Blachowicz is not the flashiest striker, but he’s adept at the fundamentals, whether it’s working behind the jab, landing chopping kicks to the leg or punishing blows to the body, and his power has played a more prominent role than ever during his current run.
The champion is also a good wrestler, has a submission game and has developed better defensive skills over the course of his career, but I do feel Teixeira is the craftier grappler overall.
I think Blachowicz can largely force this to be a stand-up battle though and while the outcome could have played out differently a few years ago, I feel at this stage Teixeira’s speed and durability disadvantages will count against him, leading the champion to a third round TKO victory.
Prediction: Jan Blachowicz to win by TKO in Rd3.
Petr Yan vs. Cory Sandhagen
Technically Yan is coming off a loss, having been DQ’d for an illegal knee against Aljamain Sterling, but it’s well established that he was winning that fight handily at the time of the stoppage, so he may as well be on an eight-fight winning streak at this point.
Meanwhile, Sandhagen is getting this interim title shot despite losing out to former champ TJ Dillashaw by split decision last time out. In total he’s now on a 7-2 run in the UFC and has picked up some impressive stoppage victories along the way against other high ranking challengers like Frankie Edgar and Marlon Moraes, so few would complain about his chance to fight for the interim title.
This should be an action-packed thriller on the feet as both men fight at a ferocious pace with some of the highest strike volumes you’ll see. That big output is in no way at the expense of power though, as both are proven fight-finishers, with Sandhagen perhaps being a bit more versatile in his striking arsenal and having a 4″ height and 3″ reach advantage, but Yan possessing extremely heavy hands and serving up relentless pressure.
Yan is the stronger wrestler here and his takedown defense is good enough to mean it’ll likely be down to him whether the fight hits the mat or not.
I think they’ll be happy to test their skill-sets against each other on the feet here for the most part though and I’m leaning towards Yan to get the better of it. I believe he can stifle some of Sandhagen’s best work by continually closing the distance, landing the harder blows and demonstrating an excellent chin, while the occasional takedown may also help him to steal close rounds if necessary. I wouldn’t put it past him to find a finish, but I’ll go with Yan by decision.
Prediction: Petr Yan to win by decision.
Islam Makhachev vs. Dan Hooker
Makhachev has become one of the dominant forces at 155lbs during his eight-fight winning streak and he now lands his biggest fight to date against Hooker, who is coming off a win over Nasrat Haqparast just a month ago.
Makhachev’s success has come from the fact that he’s an incredibly dominant wrestler who can tirelessly take his opponents to the mat and control them there, much like his teammate Khabib Nurmagomedov, who has tipped him to become a future champion. Makhachev’s ground-and-pound may not be as ferocious as ‘The Eagle’s’ was, but he does have a submission game and he has more power on the feet than Nurmagomedov did for much of his UFC run.
Meanwhile, Hooker is a striker who always gives his all in the Octagon. He’ll look to fight from range, making use of his 2″ height and 5″ reach advantage to throw out long punches and kicks, while threatening with dangerous knees at closer range.
Generally Hooker’s takedown defense has been solid and he’s found some submission finishes too over the course of his career, but he’s fought a lot of striking based opponents during his UFC run and even if he had been going up against wrestler’s, it’s rare to come across someone with Makhachev’s prowess in that department.
As such I think Makhachev’s going to send him to the mat early and often and his tireless work will lead him to a unanimous decision victory.
Prediction: Islam Makhachev to win by decision.
Alexander Volkov vs. Marcin Tybura
Without much fanfare, Tybura has compiled a five-fight winning streak at heavyweight, while Volkov is coming off a loss to title challenger Ciryl Gane, having finished both Alistair Overeem and Walt Harris by TKO before that.
Volkov may have quite clearly come off second-best to Gane in their stand-up battle, but in general he is a good technical striker who operates well from distance with his lanky frame, and unlike his last fight this time he will have a clear advantage in that regard, being 4″ taller and with 3″ in reach over Tybura.
Tybura doesn’t have the greatest technique on the feet, but he is well-rounded enough to trade when required. he’s more effective when he gets up close and personal though, controlling the clinch action and looking for takedowns, where he could have a significant advantage here.
Volkov is good at maintaining range though with those long-range punches and push kicks, and along with having better footwork than Tybura, I think he’ll keep this one upright and pick his opponent apart with strikes to secure a win on the scorecards.
Prediction: Alexander Volkov to win by decision.
Li Jingliang vs. Khamzat Chimaev
Chimaev quickly became one of the UFC’s most hyped prospects in a remarkably short space of time last year after racking up three dominant wins in a row over a three month period, but he then had a terrible time battling against long-Covid, which at one point left the 27-year-old in such despair that he even contemplated retiring.
Thankfully he does appear to have made a recovery and now looks to return to his destructive ways against Jingliang, who has won four of his past five fights and is coming off a KO victory against Santiago Ponzinibbio in January.
Chimaev has so far proven to be extremely dominant on the mat, using his wrestling to manhandling opponents with ease, and then having the submission ability and ground-and-pound to finish them from there too. However, that’s not the end of his talents, as even though this fight is at welterweight, he’s shown that he’s got serious punching power too at middleweight, and he’ll have a 2″ height and 3″ reach advantage over his opponent on Saturday night.
With all that being said, Jingliang is certainly not the kind of fighter you’d put in there as a warm-up to get Chimaev back up to speed as he is a well-rounded fighter who fights at a high pace, will throw bombs on the feet, has a black belt in jiu-jitsu and is very durable.
So this isn’t necessarily an opponent that Chimaev will easily be able to just bulldoze through in a round, and if the fight does go longer then it’ll be interesting to see how his cardio holds up given his prior Covid troubles.
Nevertheless, I think Chimaev’s wrestling ability and size is going to be a real problem for Jingliang and he’ll control the action on the mat before finishing him in the second round with ground-and-pound.
Prediction: Khamzat Chimaev to win by TKO in Rd2.
Magomed Ankalaev vs. Volkan Oezdemir
Ankalaev heads into this fight having compiled a six fight winning streak in the UFC, while former light-heavyweight title contender Oezdemir’s recent results have been a mixed bag, going 2-3 since losing to Daniel Cormier in a fight for the belt back in 2018, and he’s coming off a KO loss.
Ankalaev’s success is partly due to how well-rounded he is, with his composed yet powerful technical striking from range being backed up by solid wrestling ability.
Oezdemir is a good striker in his own right, can put combinations together well and wields KO power, but his technique isn’t as clean and calculated as Ankalaev’s and there’s signs that NitroPackhe’s not as durable too.
Oezdemir’s takedown defense is relatively solid, but that could still be an avenue Ankalaev will still explore if the striking battle isn’t going in his favor or he wants to mix things up and keep his opponent guessing. Either way, I feel Ankalaev will be more clinical and composed on the feet here and that will lead him to a decision victory.
Prediction: Magomed Ankalaev to win by decision.
UFC 267 Prelims
(Predicted winners in bold)
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
Ross Cole is one of the most prolific mixed martial arts writers in the world, having written more than 17,000 MMA news stories for MMA Insight, which he founded in 2009 as a way to channel his passion for the sport of mixed martial arts, and reaching millions of die-hard MMA fans in the process.
You can read more of Ross’s work at MMAInsight.com.