It’s fight week! UFC 267 is chock-full of exciting fights, some of which we’ve been anticipating for months, such as Volkan vs. Ankalaev. Magomed Mustafaev and Khamzat Chimaev both make their UFC 267 returns. In terms of talent and durability, Chimaev, in particular, remains an unknown, it’s exciting to see his first ‘real competition’ fight in the UFC against Li Jingliang.
Let’s get straight into it from the bottom of the main card!
Magomed Ankalaev vs Volkan ‘No Time’ Oezdemir prediction
Volkan Oezdemir (17-5-0) – Magomed Ankalaev (15-1-0)
This fight has gone horrendously under the radar. What we have here is two light heavyweight knockout artists, both with something to prove, and both with bombshells in their hands. Volkan is coming off of a horrific KO loss to Jiri Prochazka July last year, Ankalaev has been relatively more active, coming off of a UD victory over the tough Nikita Krylov, and before that, a total domination and knockout of Ion Cutelaba.
Ankalaev demonstrated good grappling against Krylov, controlling a majority of the match to secure the victory. Having strong grappling mixed with his exceptional striking, Ankalaev is a real threat at light heavyweight, a true dark horse of the division, and could soon be looking at title contention if he wins this fight. However, he has to overcome Volkan, who will be coming into this fight with something to prove.
This is one of those fights where it will likely live up to expectations, a la Costa vs Romero. If not, we see Ankalaev controlling Volkan with good grappling and effective striking. We won’t count Volkan out however, as he rocked Jiri in his last fight, and has knockout power in both hands.
Our prediction, Ankalaev UD, if not by KO
Khamzat ‘Borz’ Chimaev vs Jingliang ‘The Leech’ Li prediction
Khamzat Chimaev (9-0-0) – Li Jingliang (18-6-0)
An exciting matchup, Khamzat has successfully jumped the queue and secured a top 10 opponent in Jingliang Li. Khamzat is coming off of a long layoff due to contracting COVID-19, and it will be interesting to see how well he performs and if he’s properly recovered Saturday night. Jingliang is an all round threat in this fight, and we believe he’s a live underdog, ‘The Leech’ is coming off of a KO win of Santiago Ponzinibbio back in January this year.
Looking at the pedigree of opponents between the two combatants, Li has the more impressive resumé, but has succumbed to pressure fighters such as Neil Magny, and some sub-par opposition such as Jake Matthews. But being ranked at no. 7 in the UFC’s stacked welterweight division, it’s hard to overlook the threat that ‘The Leech’ actually poses. This will be the truest test of Khamzat’s career thus far, if he can beat Li as impressively as his last opponents, ‘Borz’ proves he has the mettle.
We see Khamzat applying that patented pressure, potentially stopping ‘The Leech’, or at the very least dragging him to a decisive decision win. However, we won’t count Li out, he’s a live underdog and could easily upset the oddsmakers on this one.
Our prediction, Khamzat by KO/SUB
Alexander ‘Drago’ Volkov vs Marcin ‘Tybur’ Tybura prediction
This fight could be one of three things: An underrated banger as both men enjoy a bit of stand-up and have good takedown defence, an absolute domination by Volkov on the feet, or a smothering split decision win by Tybura on the ground.
We believe that Volkov holds all the tools to win this fight, being a 6’7 towering monster of a heavyweight with precise technique and serious power. ‘Drago’ is coming off of a loss to now interim heavyweight champ Ciryl Gane, where he was thoroughly out struck on the feet. Tybura doesn’t have the striking pedigree of Gane, and might be too undersized to make any use of his takedowns, being 6’3 compared to Volkov who has even been rumoured to be closer to 6’10 more than anything.
We believe Volkov wins this fight handily, and it’s one of the safest outcomes we can predict.
Our prediction, Volkov by KO/TKO
Dan ‘The Hangman’ Hooker vs Islam Makhachev prediction
Easily the second most anticipated fight of the night, ‘The Hangman’ welcomes Khabib’s prodigy into the big leagues. What most people don’t want to acknowledge is the fact Islam has been knocked out once before by Adriano Martins in a shock defeat back in 2015. Since then, Islam has amassed wins against some decent opponents, most notably Arman Tsarukyan and Thiago Moises. Dan Hooker is his biggest test to date, and will go to exemplify whether or not Islam has what it takes to reach championship pedigree.
‘The Hangman’ is a tested UFC veteran with wins over Jim Miller, Gilbert Burns, James Vick and Al Laquinta to name a few. Hooker almost finished Dustin Poirier in the 2nd round of their fight back in June 2020, which would have put him in title contention at the time. People are seriously underrating Dan Hooker!
Hooker’s main arsenal consists of lethal knees and rangy, accurate strikes. In his recent outing against Nasrat Haqparast, Hooker demonstrated great ground control, controlling Nasrat for the UD win.
We’re going to make a risky pick and say Dan Hooker has what it takes to cause the upset. Scarily accurate strikes, knockout power, good ground game and a striking arsenal that punishes level changing wrestlers. But don’t confuse it, if Islam dominates the fight, all doubts are off that he is truly a force to be reckoned with.
Our prediction, Hooker KO/TKO
Cory ‘Sandman’ Sandhagen vs Petr ‘No Mercy’ Yan prediction
This is fantastic matchmaking, somehow more exciting than Yan vs Aljo 2, and more so than Yan vs Dillashaw, who Sandhagen is coming off of a razor close split decision loss to.
Sandhagen has all the tools to make this an unpredictable and exciting fight, coming in with wild techniques such as flying knees and hail mary submissions. Yan on the other hand has extremely refined fundamental skills, stays composed and brutalises his opponents with constant pressure, evil intentions and proper harmful conviction.
Sandhagen slowed down considerably and lacked urgency in the later rounds of his 5 round affair with TJ Dillashaw in July this year, whereas Yan has exhibited a great gas tank in his longer battles. We think this will be the deciding factor in the fight, Sandhagen is a live threat in the opening rounds, but if Yan weathers the storm and applies his patented pressure, ‘The Sandman’ will inevitably slow down and succumb to the pressure.
However, we’d love to see Sandhagen blitz Yan with a Frankie Edgar flying knee, end up fighting for the title and losing to Also, legitimising his title, turning the division upside down!
Our prediction, Yan by KO/TKO late rounds
The main event: Glover Teixeira vs Jan Blachowicz prediction
Glover Teixeira has clawed his way back to a title shot, gruelling fight after gruelling fight. And who better a matchup than the stoic Polish powerhouse himself, Jan Blachowicz. This is the tale of two redemption arcs, Glover fighting for the title for the first time since being beaten by Jon Jones in 2014, and Jan making his second title defence, on the best streak he’s experienced after almost being cut from the UFC after winning 1 of his last 5 from 2015-2017.
We’re rooting for both of these men in this matchup, both are respectable, stand up athletes. We anticipate that Jan will be very threatening on the feet with his trademark Polish power, and Glover has been hittable in his fights, win or lose, but you can never count him out.
One thing that stands in Jan’s favour is his last fight, which was a domination of middleweight king Israel Adesanya, where we saw Jan out strike, outsmart and outwrestle the world class kickboxer to a UD win. We anticipate that Jan will employ a similar level of fight IQ in this fight, as Glover doesn’t have that world class striking that Israel brought into the matchup. What Glover does have is a more rounded game, resilience, and most importantly, experience.
We’ve seen Glover knocked down and beaten up badly in several of his last few fights, only to outlast his younger opponent, punish and finish them on the ground with strikes or submissions.
Overall, we can’t say for sure that Glover can employ this strategy of using fight wisdom to outlast and punish opponents against Jan. Jan is a seriously imposing figure, and has incredible power in both hands, so we anticipate a cold, calculated finish. We still can’t count Glover out, as this is probably his last attempt at a title shot he’ll give it all he can, a loss may even retire the UFC veteran.
Our prediction, Blachowicz by KO/TKO, if not UD
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