We have had a massive month of October in the UFC, with four Fight Night events preceding the monthly Pay-Per-View. Last week’s event saw a hot new prospect emerge in the Featherweight division, keeping a resurgence for Amandas Nunes’ crown.
October’s monthly Pay-Per-View will be UFC 267, through it is no ordinary card. The fight will be live streamed on ESPN+ with no additional chaarge, at an earlier start date, attempting to target Eastern audiences.
We have a jacked card to do, with the Light Heavyweight title on the line between Jan Blachowicz and Glover Teixeira. Petr Yan and Cory Sandhagen will battle it out in the co-main, to officially secure the next title shot opposite Aljamain Sterling while he sits on the sidelines following his injury opposite Yan at UFC 259.
Elsewhere on the card, Khamzat Chimaev returns to action opposite Lin Jingliang, seeking to capitalize on his 2020 success after a rough foray with COVID-19. On top of this, Dan Hooker stepped in on short notice to fight divisional boogeyman Islam Makhachev, even though it meant abandoning his family and team in New Zealand after the country closed their borders. That is not all, as Volkov and Tbura make a claim towards contndership in the Heavyweight division, and Magomed Ankaleav seeks to continue his winning ways at the expense of Volkan Oezdemir.
Jan Blachowicz vs. Glover Teixiera (LHW Title)
Often overlooked in his 7-1 run preceding his victory over Dominick Reyes, Jan Blachowicz (28-8, 11-5 UFC) finally earned some respect with vicious knockouts of Luke Rockhold, Corey Anderson, and the aforementioned Reyes. Jan was most recently seen besting Middleweight champ Israel Adesanya at UFC 259, claiming a unanimous decision His lone defeat in his past ten fights came to Thiago Santos over two years ago, and he has since gone on a four fight tear. Jan does most of his work in striking as an excellent counterpuncher, as well as a quick jab and vicious body and low kicks. On top of that, Blachowicz is a talented grappler with underrated submission skills. He has seventeen finishes, split eight to nine between KOs and submissions. Blachowicz has previously shown gas tank issues, but has shored up those concerns, lasting the distance several times, including his last bout opposite Adesanya.
Perennial contender Glover Texeira (32-7, 15-5 UFC) has proven he is still in fighting shape, coming off five straight victories on his current run. He has shown a revitalized performance in his past two outings, both main events opposite Anthony Smith and Thiago Santos. He finished both after some heavy early adversity, submitting Santos and pounding out Smith. Texeira has a terrific jiu-jitsu and grappling base that he uses to implement control. However, don’t think that is all Texeira brings, as his stellar boxing and iron chin bring his total game together. Glover is a dangerous fighter in all areas and has immense skill for implementing ground control. However, he has struggled against fighters also able to mix it up well. The main detractor at this point in Glover’s career is his age and more importantly, the amount of damage he has received in that time. He has had to fight through knockdowns and serious striking differentials in recent fights, showing that his time at the top is certainly ticking away.
even though both fighters are up there in age, I expect that we have a treat in store in this main event. Both are well-rounded, and while Glover holds the jiu-jitsu advantage on the mat, Blachowicz has the superior wrestling to dictate whether or not it actually goes there. On top of that, the striking advantage for Jan is incredibly clear, as Glover’s defensive rate has been plummeting since 2017 and he has nearly been finished multiple times on his current run. Even though Teixeira has some serious toughness and a wealth of experience, I expect the body work and activity of Blachowicz to punish Teixeira down the stretch for a late finish.
My Pick: Jan Blachowicz via Knockout
Petr Yan vs. Cory Sandhagen (Interim BW Title)
Petr Yan (15-2, 7-1 UFC) has been on fire since his UFC debut less than three years ago, scoring three knockouts over six victories en route to the title. From there, he finished Jose Aldo in the fifth round to capture the belt, though his first title defense against Aljamain Sterling went awry when Yan struck him with an illegal knee in the fourth round, losing via disqualification. Yan is a Russian master of sport in boxing and does it better than nearly anyone in the UFC right now. He keeps a constant high guard, as well as forward aggression and an adept control of the center. Yan has serious power when he plants his feet, but often takes time to make his reads and is patient when he has his opponent hurt. Luckily because of his aggression, he rarely finds himself on the wrong side of volume. He has demonstrate stellar wrestling skills however, both offensively and defensively, holding an impressive takedown defense rate of 88%.
Few fighters have shown such rapid growth right in front of our eyes in the Octagon as Cory Sandhagen (14-3, 7-2 UFC). With nearly every fight he seems to have added a new skill to his arsenal, never lacking the elements required to outscramble or outstrike his opponent. Since his first UFC loss to current champion Aljamain Sterling, Sandhagen has scored two highlight reel knockouts, a wheel kick against Marlon Moraes and a flying knee Knockout of the Year contender opposite Frankie Edgar. He has deceptive power for his lanky frame and is well-rounded enough to secure a submission, but has shown lapses with his own wrestling defense. Sandhagen’s striking caliber can be attributed to his movement and precision, constantly switching stance while stalking down his prey before raining hellfire down on them. Though a deadly and aggressive striker, his poor takedown defense can be exploited, though he has some nice scrambling in his back pocket. His last fight opposite TJ Dillashaw will go down as one of the best fights of the year, though Sandhagen came out on the wrong side oof the narrow split decision.
This will undoubtedly be a wild fight, as both bring the action on the feet. Sandhagen has the combination striking and pressure reversal to give Yan fits, along with the fact that he works at range. However, Sandhagen is woefully outmatched on the mat. Though he sports some fair submission skill, the offensive wrestling and trip takedowns of Yan are tailor made to put Sandhagen on his back. I think Sandhagen will pour on the pressure early, especially considering that he has the advantage in knockout power, but will wane after being brought to the mat a few times. Yan mixes in his wrestling with his boxing technique for a decision or late finish.
My Pick: Petr Yan via Decision
Islam Makhachev vs. Dan Hooker (LW)
Islam Makhachev (20-1, 9-1 UFC), known by many as the second coming of Khabib, trains with the Lightweight champ. They are cousins and have been training partners since children. Islam has a similar wrestling style, but a slightly less aggressive top control more focused upon submissions than ground and pound. Instead, he has more power in his hands and a scary talent for wrapping up the neck, with a number of submissions in his arsenal. Still, the wrestling is his bread and butter but he is a fiend on the ground, regardless. Makhachev has been on a tear as of late, claiming eight straight victories. His last two fights saw submission wins over divisional standouts Drew Dober and Thiago Moises, the latter of which came in Islam’s first main event showing.
Dan Hooker (20-8, 10-4 UFC) returned from a a knockout loss to Michael Chandler to put on a fantastic performance opposite Nasrat Haqparats, outworking his opponent in a high paced striking affair, though Hooker displayed some improved offensive wrestling. “The Hangman” is one of the most entertaining fighters at Lightweight, scoring finishes over dangerous competitors like Gilbert Burns and Jim Miller, and has now asserted himself at the top of the Lightweight division by taking this short notice bout against an opponent no one else wants to fight. The lanky Kiwi loves his knees against wrestlers and packs some good power, along with bringing an arsenal of defensive submissions to play with. Despite looking thin (which he is), Hooker has incredible power and precision to absolutely dust people, making great and efficient work off of his range.
Geez, this is a fun matchup. I have nothing but respect for Hooker here taking a replacement fight opposite a boogeyman who no one is eager to stand up against. On top of his sheer willpower, he presents an interesting match for Makhachev, as he has the third highest takedown defense in the history of the Lightweight division. Hooker certainly has finishing potential, but his defensive lapses are too much to ignore, as Makhachev will simply ride out top position if given the ability. Though Hooker definitely has Islam outgunned on the feet, the Russian will dominate if he can simply secure the takedown. While Hooker has impressive takedown defense, Dagestanis are a different breed of wrestler, and I expect that to throw Hooker for a loop. Given Hooker’s impressive durability, I expect Makhachev to win by unanimous decision, though Hooker is definitely worth an underdog bet.
My Pick: Islam Makhachev via Decision
Alexander Volkov vs. Marcin Tybura (HW)
Alexander Volkov (33-9, 7-3 UFC) has made himself a staple at the top of the Heavyweight division, with a highlight performance finishing Walt Harris in the second round with a fearsome body kick. He kept the pressure on in his next appearance, finishing Alistair Overeem, though current Interim champ Cyril Gane beat him in a decision. Volkov is a tactical, lanky striker who uses his 6’7″ length to establish range and pick apart his opponent from his kickboxing range where they cannot hit him back. Although susceptible to counters inside the pocket, “Drago” can outpoint pretty much any fighter on the roster with his incessant volume, as well as holding knockout victories over Stephen Struve and Fabricio Werdum. Despite having a trio of submissions to his name and surprisingly adept wrestling, Volkov will be seeking to keep the entire match on the feet.
Marcin Tybura (22-6, 9-5 UFC) is on the longest win streak of his UFC career, claiming victory in his last five bouts. He’s a well-rounded fighter with a good amount of knockout power and more than substantial wrestling to back him up. His main avenue to victory comes through his ground game and clinch work, controlling his opponent while looking to advance position. He provides serious danger there as well, since he has six wins by submission. On the feet, his varied striking attack and improving volume have shown he can finish or outpoint his opponent. He is most vulnerable on the feet, where his poor head movement leaves him open to the knockout, as he holds four of his losses by KO. He has amped up his finishing ways recently, pounding out Greg Hardy and Walt Harris from top position.
This is a fairly binary match between a striker and grappler as you will get. Tbura needs to bring the fight to the mat, as he is woefully outgunned on the feet against Volkov, with less power, volume, and strike versatility. Tybura will have success if he can secure top position, but that is a much harder task opposite Volkov than Greg Hardy or Walt Harris. Volkov has the precision and strike variety to punish Tybura whenever they are on the feet, and the takedown defense to avoid a ground battle. I see Volkov denying takedowns and picking Tybura apart from range until he finds the finishing sequence.
My Pick: Alexander Volkov via Knockout
Li Jingliang vs. Khamzat Chimaev (WW)
Li Jingliang (18-6, 10-4 UFC) got back into the win column back in January, knocking out Santiago Ponzinibbio in the first round. “The Leech” has an entertaining style, waiting for his opening then unloading with power combinations. He holds thirteen career finishes, including eight by way of knockout. Though his volume has been a concern at times, he has fight-changing power and deadly precision to instantly end the fight, like he did just last year opposite Elizeu Zaleski dos Santos. He brings in capable groundwork as well, with five of his twelve finishes ending in submission, as well as powerful wrestling entries. He is 4-1 in his past five fights, only dropping a decision to challenging grinder Neil Magny.
Khamzat Chimaev (9-0, 3-0 UFC) made himself one to watch over the summer by securing the record for quickest UFC turnaround with just ten days between his stoppage victories over John Phillips and Rhys McKee. He capitalized on that hype against Gerald Meerschaert, knocking the grappling expert out in just seventeen seconds. Chimaev shifts between Welterweight and Middleweight, somehow able to make the cut down to 170. “Borz” stands at 6’2″ and looked like a behemoth in both weight classes, tossing around his opponents at will. Comparing Chimaev to Khabib wouldn’t be incorrect, as Chimaev has relentless takedowns and furious ground and pound from top control, as well finishing all of his fights, split evenly between knockouts and submissions. Borz displays dominant control and positioning, as well as the acumen to find the choke when it presents itself. If you were concerned about his striking, have no fear, as he trains with Alexander Gustafsson and Ilir Latifi at Allstars Training Center and has displayed great kicks and boxing fundamentals on the regional scene.
This is a serious step up in competition for Chimaev, who has gone from whooping on fighters with 50-50 or practically winless Octagon careers to the #11 ranked fighter in the world. Jingliang is also likely the most punishing striker he will have faced in his career, meaning Khamzat cannot get careless or too confident on the feet, despite his flash KO over GM3 in his last bout. With that being said, Li’s takedown defense is suspect and I imagine Chimaev will have little issue dominating once he gets it to the mat. Chimaev mauls Jingliang on the mat for a finish midway through the fight.
My Pick: Khamzat Chimaev via Submission
Magomed Ankalaev vs. Volkan Oezdemir (LHW)
Russian sensation Magomed Ankalaev (15-1, 6-1 UFC) should technically be undefeated, but after a dominant showing against Paul Craig in his UFC debut, Ankalaev succumbed to a literal last-second submission attempt. Since then he has rattled off four straight victories, with three of those being impressive knockouts. Ankalaev has great striking, boasting an incredible 68% striking defense rate and a fairly constant pressure, earning nine finishes including eight by knockout. On top of that, he has well-timed reversals and clinch skills, making it incredibly difficult to take him down to the mat. He has some offensive wrestling in his back pocket, carrying the tools to mix it up if he is not finding success on the feet.
Volkan Oezdemir (16-5, 4-4 UFC) opened his UFC career with a three fight win streak that was matched by three losses, but reasserted his spot at the top of the Light Heavyweight division with straight victories over Ilir Latifi and Aleksander Rakic. His most recent effort was not enough, as he was knocked out by surging contender Jiri Prochazka last July. Oezdemir is a kickboxer who utilizes his close range ability to close the show and his chin. Holding his hands somewhat low, “No Time” loves to surge into the pocket and deliver quick bombs that will stumble his opponent quickly. Although he had pretty clear issues dealing with his gas tank, he has made serious improvements in that realm and shouldn’t have any issues in this three-round match.
Damn, they really just toss Oezdemir to the wolves whenever they get the chance. Volkan is a violent knockout threat, but brings little on the mat. On the other hand, we have Ankalaev, who has looked like championship material since his debut, particularly in his ability to mix up his attack on the feet and the mat. Ankalaev holds the technical advantage striking, particularly within his jab and combination striking, but Oezdemir is a ferocious threat in short range boxing, capable of finishing the fight from anywhere. Anakalaev utilizes range management and intermittent takedowns for a unanimous decision win.
My Pick: Magomed Ankalaev via Decision
This card has an incredibly early start time for the American audience, with a start time of 7:30 AM EST at time of writing \.
Categories: UFC Predictions