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Fight By Fight Preview | UFC 267: Blachowicz vs Teixeira

We're Back In Abu Dhabi With A Positively Stacked Card. Let's Break It Down.

JAN BLACHOWICZ VS. GLOVER TEIXEIRA

Clearly, the old guys have still got it as 38-year-old champion Jan Blachowicz puts his light heavyweight title on the line for the second time this year, squaring off with Glover Teixeira, who turns 43 two days prior to this contest, in the main event of the UFC’s return to Fight Island in Abu Dhabi.

Blachowicz completed an unexpected march to the top of the division last fall, securing a second-round stoppage victory over Dominick Reyes to earn his fourth straight win and claim the vacant light heavyweight title. A little less than six months later, the Polish veteran became the first fighter to defeat Israel Adesanya, turning back the middleweight champion as he attempted to become the fifth two-weight titleholder in UFC history.

As unexpected as the champion’s rise to the top of the division may be, the challenger’s return to a second title fight might be even more surprising, as more than seven years after facing Jon Jones at UFC 172, Teixeira is back for a second crack at the light heavyweight title.

How To Watch UFC 267 In Your Country

He too arrives in Abu Dhabi riding a five-fight winning streak, having earned consecutive stoppage wins over Anthony Smith and Thiago Santos last year to secure his place as the No. 1 contender. Tougher than shoe leather and fighting for the 40th time on Saturday, Teixeira has been a staple in the division for the last decade, facing every contender to pass through the 205-pound weight class, recapturing his top form at a time when most of his contemporaries have already called it quits.

In addition to simply being excited to see these two standout veterans headline a star-studded show and battle for championship gold, this should be an outstanding fight, as both Blachowicz and Teixeira have full and diverse arsenals and a shared affinity for throwing smoke and keeping the judges out of the decision-making process.

Will the champion retain his title and improve his position in the Fighter of the Year race or will the challenger further his legend by claiming UFC gold for the first time?

PETR YAN VS. CORY SANDHAGEN

With bantamweight champion Aljamain Sterling on the shelf with a neck injury, standouts Petr Yan and Cory Sandhagen clash in Abu Dhabi with the interim title hanging in the balance.

Yan claimed the vacant title last summer on Fight Island with a fifth-round stoppage win over Jose Aldo that pushed his record inside the Octagon to 7-0 and extended his winning streak to double digits. Late in his title defense against Sterling in March, the Russian landed an illegal knee that rendered the challenger unable to continue, resulting in a disqualification.

Sandhagen followed up his October knockout win over Marlon Moraes with a brilliant flying knee finish of Frankie Edgar in February before landing on the wrong side of a split decision verdict this summer opposite returning former champ TJ Dillashaw. Despite the setback, no one questions the Elevation Fight Team member’s place in the division and talent as a fighter, and both should be on full display when he steps in with Yan on Saturday.

Though it’s rare for two athletes coming off of losses to battle for championship gold, few, if any, would argue that Yan and Sandhagen are not two of the best — and perhaps the two best — bantamweights on the planet. This alignment makes perfect sense given that Sterling and Dillashaw are each still recovering from surgical procedures earlier in the year, and whether there is an interim title on the line or not, this should be an absolutely electric affair ahead of the light heavyweight finale this weekend.

ISLAM MAKHACHEV VS. DAN HOOKER

Islam Makhachev carries an eight-fight winning streak and heaps of momentum into this main card showdown with Dan Hooker, who jumped at the chance to replace the injured Rafael Dos Anjos and fight for a second time in five weeks.

Entering the year as one of the top emerging names in the lightweight ranks, the 30-year-old Makhachev graduated from prospect to contender with submission wins over Drew Dober and Thiago Moises. Viewed by many as the heir to the throne abdicated by his longtime friend and training partner turned coach Khabib Nurmagomedov, the dominant grappler is 20-1 overall and looks to further cement his place in the top tier of contenders in the 155-pound weight class with his third win of the year.

UFC 267 FREE FIGHTS: Blachowicz vs Adesanya | Teixeira vs Smith | Sandhagen vs Moraes

Just a few days after out-hustling Nasrat Haqparast at UFC 266, Hooker stepped up and stepped in for Dos Anjos, securing a matchup he’s been asking about for quite some time. The New Zealander has been a Top 10 fixture for the last several years and is without question the most complete, dangerous, and experienced fighter Makhachev has faced to date.

This is an absolutely terrific fight that will answer any remaining questions people have about where Makhachev stands within the divisional hierarchy and how high he may climb, while also providing a chance to see the action-oriented Hooker compete for the second time in as many months.

ALEXANDER VOLKOV VS. MARCIN TYBURA

European heavyweights with heaps of experience clash in this main card battle as Alexander Volkov looks to get back in the win column, while Marcin Tybura aims to extend his winning streak to six.

Volkov has been a staple in the heavyweight title picture since defeating former champ Fabricio Werdum in London in March 2018. Since then, “Drago” has gone 3-3 with victories over Greg Hardy, Walt Harris, and Alistair Overeem, and his losses coming to three of the five men positioned ahead of him in the rankings — Derrick Lewis, Curtis Blaydes, and interim champ Ciryl Gane.

Through his first nine UFC appearances, Tybura’s record sat at 4-5, with the Polish veteran entering 2020 with just a single victory in his previous five trips into the Octagon. Since then, however, “Tybur” has collected five straight victories, including back-to-back stoppage wins over Hardy and Harris, each of which earned him Performance of the Night honors.

UFC 267 Fighters Seeking A 3-Peat

Volkov and Tybura missed each other while competing in Europe during their pre-UFC days, but cross paths now at an important time for each man, as the former is looking to re-affirm his standing as an elite heavyweight and the latter is looking to usurp his position.

LI JINGIANG VS. KHAMZAT CHIMAEV

Li Jingliang returns for the first time since January, looking to build on his latest knockout victory as he welcomes Khamzat Chimaev back to Abu Dhabi and back to the Octagon for the first time in over a year.

“The Leech” rebounded from his unanimous decision loss to Neil Magny at UFC 248 with a hellacious knockout win over the returning Santiago Ponzinibbio in January. The Chinese veteran has won four of his last five and eight of his last 10, collecting six finishes along the way, and stands as a powerful, experienced test for last year’s breakout newcomer this weekend.

Chimaev earned two wins in 10 days to set the UFC world on fire last summer, steamrolling John Phillips and Rhys McKee in July to emerge as the runaway star of the UFC’s initial foray to Fight Island. Less than two months later, he made his debut in Las Vegas, finishing veteran Gerald Meerschaert in 17 seconds to push his record to 9-0 and stand as an incendiary figure capable of competing in two divisions with his sights set on ranked opposition.

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But a scary bout with COVID-19 halted the unbeaten standout’s momentum and scuttled an oft-scheduled clash with Leon Edwards, delaying Chimaev’s return until this weekend.

This is a perfect piece of matchmaking, as Li is a battle-tested powerhouse who will make Chimaev pay if he makes any mistakes or shows any signs of rust, as he did with Ponzinibbio at the start of the year, while the undefeated 27-year-old shares the Octagon with an established talent at the peak of his powers.

Whatever remaining questions anyone had about Chimaev should be answered this weekend, and depending on how things play out, the hype train is either going to get derailed or be running full steam ahead once more.

Dan Hooker | Best Moments
Dan Hooker | Best Moments
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MAGOMED ANKALAEV VS. VOLKAN OEZDEMIR

While a light heavyweight title fight closes out the show, a battle between Top 10 light heavyweights opens the main card as well, as Magomed Ankalaev puts his lengthy winning streak on the line against former title challenger Volkan Oezdemir.

Unbeaten in his last six outings, Ankalaev spent 2020 locked in a drawn out saga with Ion Cutelaba that ended with the surging Russian knocking out the feisty Moldovan in the first round of their second meeting. He followed that up with a wrestling-heavy decision win over Nikita Krylov and remains a last second submission loss to Paul Craig away from being undefeated for his career.

After earning three straight victories to start his UFC career and land a title shot, Oezdemir has settled into life as a Top 10 fixture, closing out 2019 with wins over Ilir Latifi and Aleksandar Rakic before getting knocked out by rising star Jiri Prochazka last summer. The Swiss veteran brandishes a ton of power and plenty of experience, making him the perfect dance partner for Ankalaev as the Russian hopeful looks to take another step forward towards title contention.

How To Watch UFC 267

Can Ankalaev post another victory and head into 2022 in the title conversation or will Oezdemir halt his ascent and get back into the win column himself?

AMANDA RIBAS VS. VIRNA JANDIROBA

Ranked strawweights occupy the final spot on the preliminary card this weekend as Amanda Ribas and Virna Jandiroba square off in this all-Brazilian affair.

Ribas makes her second appearance of the year in Abu Dhabi, returning for the first time since having her five-fight winning streak snapped in January by top contender Marina Rodriguez. The ebullient 28-year-old had won each of her first four fights inside the Octagon ahead of that, including a unanimous decision win over Mackenzie Dern and a first-round finish of Paige VanZant, and remains one of the top younger talents in the division.

Arriving in the UFC with a 14-0 record, the former Invicta FC champ Jandiroba has gone 3-2 inside the Octagon, earning wins over Mallory Martin, Felice Herrig, and Kanako Murata, while dropping decisions to former champ Carla Esparza and Dern. A punishing top position grappler whose hands are continuing to improve, the 33-year-old will look to leapfrog Ribas in the divisional rankings by handing her countrywoman a second consecutive loss.

This is an intriguing clash that will delineate where each woman stands in the 115-pound weight class heading into next year, and provide greater clarity regarding the heights they may reach in the future.

Lerone Murphy Fighter Focus | UFC 267
Lerone Murphy Fighter Focus | UFC 267
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RICARDO RAMOS VS. ZUBAIRA TUKHUGOV

More than 18 months after initially being booked against one another, Ricardo Ramos and Zubaira Tukhugov will finally share the Octagon together this weekend in an intriguing preliminary card pairing in the featherweight division.

Ramos has gone 6-2 across two divisions since joining the UFC and comes into Saturday’s event following a unanimous decision win over Bill Algeo in May. The talented Brazilian, who completes his camps at Team Alpha Male, can be a little too showy with his attacks at times, but has a diverse and dangerous skill set that makes him an interesting fighter to track in the 145-pound weight class.

Now in his eighth year on the UFC roster, the 30-year-old Tukhugov has logged just seven appearances in that time, as a mix of injuries, visa issues, and suspensions have severely limited his activity. After beginning his tenure with three straight victories, the talented Russian fighter has gone just 1-2-1 over his last four outings, most recently missing weight before dropping a decision against Hakeem Dawodu at UFC 253.

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Can Ramos add a second consecutive victory to his resume heading into 2022 or will Tukhugov bounce back with an impressive performance of his own?

ALBERT DURAEV VS. ROMAN KOPYLOV

It’s an all-Russian affair in the middleweight division as Albert Duraev makes his UFC debut against Roman Kopylov on Saturday night.

The first fighter from Season 5 of Dana White’s Contender Series to compete in the Octagon, Duraev arrives in Abu Dhabi on a nine-fight winning streak and fresh off a first-round submission win over Caio Bittencourt in mid-September. The 32-year-old fought solid competition on his way to the UFC and looked dominant in Las Vegas earlier this fall, setting himself up as one of the potential breakout new additions to the roster from the graduating class of 2021.

Kopylov has had five different fights booked since signing with the UFC, but only made the walk to the Octagon once, back in 2019 when he suffered a third-round submission loss to Karl Roberson. The 30-year-old was the Fight Nights Global middleweight titleholder before matriculating to the biggest stage in the sport, but he’s got nearly two years of rust to shake off when he steps into the cage with Duraev this weekend.

Entry Checklist For Etihad Arena | UFC 267

Neither man is particularly fond of getting the judges involved and each has something to prove on Saturday, so this should be an entertaining, action-packed affair for as long as it lasts.

Main Event Preview | UFC 267: Bachowicz vs Teixeira
Main Event Preview | UFC 267: Bachowicz vs Teixeira
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ELIZEU ZALESKI DOS SANTOS VS. BENOIT SAINT DENIS

It’s a battle between a promotional fixture and a UFC newcomer in the welterweight division as Elizeu Zaleski Dos Santos welcomes Benoit Saint Denis to the Octagon for the first time.

A staple in the 170-pound weight class since 2015, Zaleski Dos Santos carries an 8-3 record in the UFC into this clash with Saint Denis, but arrives having lost two of his last three outings following a seven-fight winning streak. The 34-year-old has earned some highlight reel finishes and shown a diverse skill set through his 11-fight run, with two of his three setbacks coming by way of split decision, making him one of the more experienced and dangerous threats on the fringes of the Top 15 in the welterweight division.

Undefeated in eight professional fights, Saint-Denis has earned four straight victories under the Brave CF banner, earning finishes in each of those contests, including a pair of wins already this year. The 25-year-old has only been competing in mixed martial arts since the beginning of 2019, so the fact that he’s already making his way into the Octagon underscores how much success he’s enjoyed and the upside he possesses.

This is a compelling matchup and a tremendous measuring stick fight for Saint Denis, who can catapult himself into the thick of the chase in the welterweight division with a victory on Saturday over a tenured talent like Zaleski Dos Santos, while the Brazilian veteran can invoke the Frankie Edgar Edict — “There are levels to this” — if he turns aside the unbeaten new arrival.

SHAMIL GAMZATOV VS. MICHAL OLEKSIEJCZUK

Unbeaten light heavyweight Shamil Gamzatov finally makes his sophomore appearance inside the Octagon this weekend, venturing to Abu Dhabi to square off with talented Polish prospect Michal Oleksiejczuk.

A perfect 14-0 for his career, Gamzatov made his promotional debut in November 2019, earning a split decision victory over Klidson Abreu in Moscow. He’s since been sidelined due to travel restrictions and visa issues, resulting in the talented 31-year-old remaining a bit of a question mark heading into his second UFC appearance.

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Making the walk for the seventh time in his UFC career, Oleksiejczuk carries a 3-2 record with one no contest into this weekend’s clash with Gamzatov, most recently earning a split decision victory over Modestas Bukauskas in March. The 26-year-old “Lord” has flashed quick, crisp striking, and overall promise, but also had instances where his inexperience showed through, which makes this fight a good opportunity to get a further read on where he’s at in his development.

Can Gamzatov remain unbeaten and secure a second UFC win or will Oleksiejczuk pick up his second victory of 2021 and re-establish himself as someone to watch in the light heavyweight division heading into next year?

Petr Yan vs Cory Sandhagen Preview | UFC 267
Petr Yan vs Cory Sandhagen Preview | UFC 267
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MAKWAN AMIRKHANI VS. LERONE MURPHY

Fan favorite Makwan Amirkhani looks to halt a two-fight skid on Saturday as he steps in with unbeaten British hopeful Lerone Murphy in this compelling featherweight clash.

Now in his seventh year on the UFC roster, Amirkhani has struggled to earn positive results over his last four fights, securing just a single victory, and heading into this weekend’s event having dropped back-to-back decisions to Edson Barboza and Kamuela Kirk. The 32-year-old can be ultra-dangerous early, but has struggled with his conditioning of late, so it will be interesting to see if he can get to Murphy early and secure a finish.

Quietly carrying a 10-0-1 record into the Octagon, Murphy is making his fourth appearance in Abu Dhabi in as many UFC fights, most recently earning a unanimous decision win over Douglas Silva on Fight Island in January. The 30-year-old Manchester native owns a first-round finish over Ricardo Ramos and battled Zubaira Tukhugov to a draw in his promotional debut, which should help establish where he fits within the 145-pound ranks at the moment.

Amirkhani is bound to come out hot looking to avoid a third straight loss, but this is also a tremendous opportunity for Murphy to take a big step forward in the ultra-competitive featherweight division, so expect a frenetic start and fun fight from start-to-finish on Saturday.

HU YAOZONG VS. ANDRE PETROSKI

Hu Yaozong makes his third UFC appearance in his third division, dropping to middleweight to take on recent Ultimate Fighter contestant Andre Petroski in preliminary card action.

“Totoro” debuted in the UFC at heavyweight, suffering a second-round submission loss to Cyril Asker, then dropped to the 205-pound ranks for his sophomore showing, losing a decision to Rashad Coulter. After serving a two-year suspension and having a fight earlier this year fall through, Hu finally returns to action after nearly three years on the shelf, moving to middleweight to lock up with Petroski.

A member of Team Ortega on the recently completed Return of The Ultimate Fighter, Petroski earned a third-round stoppage win over Micheal Gillmore at the show’s finale in August to push his record to 6-2 overall. The 30-year-old trains with a quality crew in Philadelphia and will look to go 2-for-2 in the UFC when he enters the Octagon this weekend.

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Will Hu finally secure his first UFC victory or can Petroski send him to 0-3 across three divisions on Saturday night?

A Stacked Card | UFC 267: Bachowicz vs Teixeira
A Stacked Card | UFC 267: Bachowicz vs Teixeira
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TAGIR ULANBEKOV VS. ALLAN NASCIMENTO

Talented Russian flyweight Tagir Ulanbekov finally makes his sophomore voyage into the Octagon on Saturday night, facing Brazilian newcomer Allan Nascimento in the opening bout of the evening.

Owner of a 12-1 record, Ulanbekov earned a unanimous decision victory over Bruno Silva in his promotional debut a little over a year ago, but has since withdrawn from three different assignments. He’s won four straight since his majority decision loss to fellow UFC competitor Zhalgas Zhumagulov under the Fight Nights Global banner in the summer of 2018, and profiles as a potential dark horse in the deepening and increasingly competitive flyweight division.

UFC 267 COUNTDOWN: Blachowicz vs Teixeira | Yan vs Sandhagen | Full Episode

Nascimento came up short in his bid to earn a UFC contract on one of the all-Brazilian Contender Series cards in the summer of 2018, dropping a split decision to current ranked bantamweight Raulian Paiva. He only returned to the cage for the first time since that contest this summer, but won handily, securing a first-round submission victory and earning this chance to compete inside the Octagon.

Having this clash as the opener tells you how loaded Saturday’s fight card is from top-to-bottom, as this fight would be positioned much higher in the lineup on any other card. Grab your snacks, settle in, and enjoy because UFC 267 is going to be incredible from the outset.

 

Don’t miss the ESPN+ special presentation of UFC 267: Blachowicz vs Teixeira on Saturday October 30th, 2021. Please note special broadcast times — prelims begin at 10:30am ET/7:30am PT, with the two-title fight main card starting at 2pm ET/11am PT.

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