Touching down on Fight Island for the first time in over 9 months, the UFC will return to Abu Dhabi for UFC 267, a monumental card that’s set to be one of the biggest of the year.
In the main event, reigning 205lb champion Jan Blachowicz will look to turn back surging veteran Glover Teixiera in his second title defense. The co-main event will see a champion crowned, as the interim bantamweight title will be on the line when former titleholder Petr Yan faces top contender Cory Sandhagen.
Let’s take a closer look at the card!
(c) Jan Blachowicz (28-8) vs (#1) Glover Teixiera (32-7) – UFC light-heavyweight championship bout
Looking to taste gold for the first time in his storied career, Brazil’s Glover Teixiera must try to take the gold from around the waste of Poland’s Prince Jan Blachowicz.
Upsetting the odds against Israel Adesanya, light-heavyweight champion Jan Blachowicz proved himself to be one of the best pound-for-pound fighters in the world. His well-rounded mix of smothering grappling, deceptively fast kicks and his ‘legendary Polish power’ make him a nightmare for anyone to fight. Should he collect another title defense to his name on Saturday, Blachowicz will continue to cement himself as one of the best of his era.
With a career resurgence not dissimilar to the champ’s, Glover Teixiera made himself the clear number one contender at 205lbs with a stoppage of Thiago Santos. Having won his last 5 with 4 finishes, the Brazilian is seemingly primed and focused to finally capture a UFC title after 9 years. Turning 42 just prior to the event, with a win, Teixiera will be one of the oldest champions in UFC history.
(#1) Petr Yan (15-2) vs (#3) Cory Sandhagen (14-3) – interim UFC bantamweight championship bout
With champion Aljamain Sterling on the sidelines due to not being medically declared fit, Petr Yan and Cory Sandhagen will duke it out for the right to be called interim bantamweight champion.
Though his DQ loss to Sterling cost him his title, the large majority of MMA fans still view Petr Yan as the best 135lb fighter in the UFC. ‘No Mercy’ combines a background in amateur boxing with tricky takedowns and unbreakable cardio to wear his opponents down. A win on Saturday will place a belt around his waste for the second time, a status that many believe he still deserves.
Dropping a highly-controversial split decision decision TJ Dillashaw in July, Cory Sandhagen stayed in shape in case opportunity struck in his favour. Luckily for ‘The Sandman’, he gets the chance to step in and display his world-class striking once again this weekend. Team Elevation’s Sandhagen will have to bring his A game if he wants to leave with gold, but he’s highly confident that he can get the job done in style.
(#5) Islam Makhachev (20-1) vs (#6) Dan Hooker (21-10) – lightweight bout
Stepping up to the plate on short notice, Dan Hooker will look to kill the hype of the ascending Islam Makhachev.
Described by many as the second coming of Khabib Nurmagomedov, the lightweight division has been put on notice by Islam Makhachev. The Dagestani’s relentless grappling pressure and pace have seen him dominate all but one bout in his 21 fight career. Now sitting at #4 in the rankings, a victory on at UFC 267 could mean a title opportunity for Makhachev.
One of the most universally beloved fighters in MMA today, Dan Hooker didn’t hesitate to accept the chance to fight Makhachev… just 3 days after dominating Nasrat Haqparast at UFC 266. Displaying improved wrestling chops in that bout, the Kiwi is determined to put his best foot forward to derail his opponent on October 30th. A single well-timed knee up the middle from ‘The Hangman’ could make it a short night, while placing him back in the top 5 at 155lbs.
(#5) Alexander Volkov (33-9) vs (#9) Marcin Tybura (22-6) – heavyweight bout
Heavyweight staples Alexander Volkov and Marcin Tybura will square off in the hopes of continuing their climb up the ladder.
Despite losses to Curtis Blaydes and Ciryl Gane, Russia’s Alexander Volkov remains one of heavyweight’s most talented competitors. Standing at 6’7″, the kickboxing uses his size and stature to pick his opponents apart from a distance. With the ability to draw out a win over 15 and to end the fight by KO, ‘Drago’ has plenty of ways to pick up another win.
Written off by most after a 1-4 run between 2017 and 2019, Poland’s Marcin Tybura has been on the comeback trail since 2020. Riding a 5 fighting streak with two straight finishes, Tybura looks likes he could be a strong force in the upper echelons of the heavyweight division. A win on Saturday at UFC 267 will place him firmly into the title discussion for 2022.
(#11) Li Jingliang (18-6) vs Khamzat Chimaev (9-0) – welterweight bout
Returning after a 13 month hiatus, Chechan star Khamzat Chimaev will look to smash his way into the welterweight top 15 when he fights hard-hitting Li Jingliang.
Having gone 8-2 in his last 10, China’s Li Jingliang has established himself as a force to be reckoned at 170lbs. With heavy hands and an improving ground game, he has shown that he can put the lights out of anyone on his best nights. With an upset win over Santiago Ponzinibbio earlier this year, ‘The Leech’ is looking to make it 2-0 against returning fan favourites in 2021.
Making UFC history in 2020 with three finishes in the span of 66 days, Khamzat Chimaev remains one of MMA’s brightest prospects. One-shot knockout power added to an already scary ground game that has seen John Phillips, Rhys McKee and Gerald Meerschaert land a combined 2 strikes. Finally medically cleared to return, ‘Borz’ is on a warpath to UFC gold.
(#7) Magomed Ankalaev (15-1) vs (#8) Volkan Oezdemir (17-5) – light-heavyweight bout
A crucial light-heavyweight matchup between Magomed Ankalaev and Volkan Oezdemir will open up UFC 267’s main card.
As one of the best prospects that light-heavyweight has seen in years, Magomed Ankalaev has won 6 straight with four knockouts. The Russian’s only UFC stumble came to Paul Craig, but has since beaten the likes of Ion Cutelaba and Nikita Krylov. As dangerous on the mat as he is on the feet, all 205lb fighters have to be weary of Ankalaev.
A former title challenger that has fallen on hard times, Volkan Oezdemir still has title aspirations for the future. The Switzerland native remains one of the hardest hitters at light-heavyweight, along with professional kickboxing experience. A win over Ankalaev at UFC 267 could easily place Oezdemir back in a contender position.
Which fight are you most excited for? Which one is flying under the radar? Let us know in the comments!
PREVIEW | UFC Vegas 44: Jose Aldo vs Rob Font
This Saturday, the UFC returns to the Apex for another blockbuster card on paper. The main event see’s the consensus greatest Featherweight of all time, Jose Aldo, take on one of the best boxers on the current UFC roster, Rob Font.
The prelims kick off with a Bantamweight bout between Louis Smolka and Vince Morales. Smolka was scheduled to fight ‘Suga’ Sean O’Malley on the huge UFC 264 card, however, had to pull out of the scheduled bout due to an infection. His return on Saturday marks a year exactly since he last stepped into the Octagon, when he defeated Jose Quinonez in December of 2020. Vince Morales has had quite a tough ride so far in the UFC, with his first bout under the UFC banner in 2018 being against power puncher, Song Yadong. After 1 win, he was then granted bouts with Benito Lopez and Chris Gutierrez being beaten in both. I can see the fight playing out on the feet, with Smolka having a lot of success and getting the finish in the first 2 rounds.
A Welterweight bout between Alex Morono and Mickey Gall follows, with Morono looking to make it 3 in a row, after defeating ‘Cowboy’ Cerrone and David Zawada already this year. Mickey on the other hand is performing at a win loss ratio of 50%, as in his last 6 fights, he hasn’t put together consecutive wins. Both fighters are Jiu-Jitsu specialists, so I am expecting the fight to play out at quite a slow and patient pace, and can see Morono taking the unanimous decision victory, making it 3 in a row.
The penultimate bout of the prelims see’s Manel Kape face Zhalgas Zhumagulov, in what I predict will be one of the fights of the night. Kape, who is the former Rizin Bantamweight champion, came to the promotion with a lot of expectation and hype due to his previous fights in Rizin and his fight style. His UFC career didn’t get off to the start he may have expected as he was defeated by Alexandre Pantoja, who is the current rank 3 in the Flyweight division and Matheus Nicolau in a controversial split decision loss. He bounced back from a 2 fight losing skid by defeating Ode Osbourne with a highlight reel flying knee. Similarly to Kape, Zhalgas lost his first 2 UFC bouts, bouncing back with his recent win over Jerome Rivera. This bout will mark the first bout of Zhumagulov’s new contract, and he’ll be hoping it mark it with a statement win. I see the bout playing out to Kape’s advantage as his striking is more polished than Zhalgas’, with a unanimous decision victory for Kape what I am predicting.
The featured prelim bout see’s a clash of 2 Middleweights coming off the back of losses. The Serbian, ‘Thunder’ Todorovic faces off against Maki Pitolo in a fight that both need a win to resurrect their UFC careers. Both fighters acquired their UFC contracts through the Contender Series, with both fighters only winning once since their Contender Series victories. I can see the fight playing out on the feet, with Todorovic throwing with volume using the clinch to his advantage, getting a finish.
Kicking off the main card is a barn burner in the middleweight division, between Chris Curtis and Brendan Allen. ‘The Action Man’, Chris Curtis, caused an upset in his UFC debut against Phil Hawes, KO’ing him with a short left hook to the dome. During that fight, he faced some adversity as Hawes was laying it on him with beautiful body strikes and powerful combinations. Brendan Allen, another Contender Series alumni, is looking to stop Curtis’ streak of 6 wins in a row, starting a streak of his own as he looks to end the year with a 100% win record, already with 2 wins for the year. Curtis is going to look to try and keep the fight on the feet, nullifying the threat of Allen’s black belt BJJ credentials. I can see Allen getting the fight to the ground early on with a decision victory or submission win on the cards.
The co-main event see’s an even matchup between ‘Attaman’ Fiziev and Brad Riddell. This matchup is one I am most looking forward too as Fiziev is one of the most explosive strikers in the Lightweight division, coming up against his toughest test so far in Riddell. In his last bout, Fiziev defeated Bobby Green in a war, taking the unanimous decision victory, showing that he’s not just an explosive striker and can in fact, take some punishment as well as dishing it out. Both fighters are coming into the bout 10-1, looking to catapult themselves into a top 10 fight. Fiziev will fancy himself if the fight stays standing but I envisage Riddell shooting for the legs after tasting any of Fiziev’s shots. Fiziev will utilise his Muay Thai style with vicious leg kicks and strikes in the clinch, and I am predicting ‘Attaman’ will get the finish and will be granted a top 10 opponent after being one of the most avoided guys in the division.
The Bantamweight division will again show its quality in Saturday nights main event, when Font and Aldo step into the Octagon. Currently occupying ranks 4 and 5, a win for either fighter gives them a great platform for a title fight, or at the least, a number one contender fight against the recently returned, TJ Dillashaw. Font is coming off the back of a 5 round masterclass against former Bantamweight King, Cody Garbrandt. Before that bout, everyone knew about Font’s elite boxing, but we weren’t really sure how he’d fair against another elite boxer. During the fight, Font stuck behind his jab and jabbed his way to a unanimous decision victory, putting his name at the top end of a stacked Bantamweight division. On the other side of the Octagon you have the King of Rio, Jose Aldo, coming off the back of a unanimous decision victory over Pedro Munhoz where he showed once again that age is just a number, and he is still a man to be feared in the Bantamweight division.
Font’s boxing heavy approach may be his downfall in this fight against Jose Aldo, as if he relies too much on his heavy hands, he may find himself getting chewed up by leg kicks as his feet will be planted too often. Jose Aldo will mix up his attacks better than Font, going from body to head mixing in his powerful leg kicks, closing the distance as much as possible. Font’s keys too victory will be sticking behind his jab and keeping his distance from Jose Aldo, utilising his range and length to his advantage.
In a division that is leaking with talent, who will put on a show on Saturday night and get a possible number one contender fight with former champ, TJ Dillashaw?
Dom Wooding to make first title defence plus fight announcements
Dominique Wooding will make his maiden title defence of the Cage Warriors title, as he takes on the 9-3 Carlos Abreu on the second night of Cage Warriors’ upcoming Double Trouble event on Saturday 11th December.
Several other fights have also been added across both nights of the double header. Talking on his first title defence, Dominique Wooding, who has won both of his fights in Cage Warriors by knockout, said:
“This fight is only going one way and that’s me going three out of three on kills to finish off the year in devastating fashion. There’s a great performance incoming from me and this is the fight that gets me signed to the UFC. Training camp for me and my teammates that are on the Double Trouble cards at GBTT is going really well with solid work being put in day in day out so the team will be riding out in full effect!”
Carlos Abreu enters Cage Warriors with a 9-3 record consisting of one TKO win and four submission wins and will be in the position of challenging for the title in his first ever fight for the promotion.
Ahead of his title shot, Abreu, who has a win over Cage Warriors veteran Chris Miah, spoke about how big his upcoming debut is: “This is the chance of my life! The cage is my home and I am afraid of no man!”
CW 132 will also see the Cage Warriors debut of Wooding’s teammate, Lone’er Kavanagh as he takes on Maximilien Vallot.
Friday’s CW 131 card has also had some more fights added, with Yassine Belhadj, Danilo Belluardo, Luke Riley, Yuki Angdembe, Michael Tchamou and Samir Kadi all making appearances at York Hall.
Speaking on the additions to both nights, Cage Warriors president, Graham Boylan, said: “Every time I look at these Double Trouble cards I get more excited.
“We’ve now got four world title fights with the addition of Wooding, and I’m sure people are interested in seeing how well he will perform in his first fight as champion. Then you look further down the cards and we have some incredibly talented fighters ready to show the world what they can do. These two events are going to be crazy and I can’t wait to end the year with a bang with our fans at York Hall!”
At CW 131, Michael Tchamou will make his Cage Warriors debut in a middleweight contest against Samir Kadi, Luke Riley makes his second Cage Warriors appearance as he takes on GB Top Team’s Yuki Angdembe at bantamweight, while Yassine Belhadj will go toe-to-toe with Danilo Belluardo in the lightweight division.
Tickets for both nights of Double Trouble are on sale here.
CW 131 Friday 10th December
Matthew Bonner (c) vs Djati Melan – middleweight title bout
George Hardwick vs Mehdi Ben Lakhdhar – vacant lightweight title bout
Oban Elliott vs Madars Fleminas – welterweight bout
Yassine Belhadj vs Danilo Belluardo – lightweight bout
Nik Bagley vs Scott Pedersen – featherweight bout
Jean N’Doye vs Tom Mearns – featherweight bout
Liam Gittins vs Kingsley Crawford – bantamweight bout
Adam Cullen vs Mikail Bayram – lightweight bout
Ben Rees vs PK Zadeh – featherweight bout
Samir Kadi vs Michael Tchamou – middleweight bout
Luke Riley vs Yuki Angdembe – bantamweight bout
CW 132 Saturday 11th December
Dominique Wooding (c) vs Carlos Abreu – bantamweight title bout
Sam Creasey (c) vs Luke Shanks – flyweight title bout
Mateusz Figlak vs Kent Kauppinen – welterweight bout
Tobias Harila vs Jair Junior – featherweight bout
Michal Figlak vs Stevie McIntosh – lightweight bout
Jamie Richardson vs Leonardo Damiani – welterweight bout
Paull McBain vs Konmon Deh – featherweight bout
Tanio Pagliariccio vs Aidan James – bantamweight bout
Maximilien Valot vs Lone’er Kavanagh – flyweight bout
Aaron Aby vs Samir Faiddine – flyweight bout
Sumo: Terunofuji achieves first undefeated tournament of his career
The Kyushu basho champion Terunofuji confirmed his undefeated 15-0 record with a tough victory over Ozeki Takakeisho in Fukuoka, Japan.
After an exciting tournament that looked like going down to the wire, the fact that the champion was crowned on day 14 took the final day down a notch in terms of excitement. However, there was still a lot to fight for on day 15 of the basho.
The most notable was the Yokozuna’s attempt to achieve a zensho-yusho (undefeated championship) for the first time. His opponent was Takakeisho, the Ozeki who was only ruled out of contention for the championship on day 13. He gave Terunofuji a good fight but in the end was forced out of the dohyo, giving Terunofuji his maiden 15-0. Looking at the competition at the moment, it’s hard to say that this will be his last.
Otherwise, there were lots of rikishi who were sat on 7-7 and the final day would decide if they move up or down in the rankings. Of those, Daieisho, Wakatakakage, Endo and Chiyomaru were successful, finishing their tournaments on 8-7. Ishiura, Tobizaru, Keisei, Chiyoshoma and Hidenoumi were all defeated on the final day and finish on 7-8. Kaisei’s status in the top division is looking in danger as he is already in the bottom M17 rank.
At the end of the basho, the Sumo Association gives out awards for fighting spirit and skill. Abi and Takanosho were awarded fighting spirit prizes and Ura was awarded the prize for showing his considerable sumo skill.
That brings an exciting basho to an end! Look for more articles over the coming days/weeks which will compile the best matches and finishes from the Kyushu Tournament! To finish, here is the final standings for those who reached double figures in the Kyushu basho.
Terunofuji (Y) 15-0
Takakeisho (O) 12-3
Abi (M15) 12-3
Mitakeumi (S) 11-4
Takanosho (M2) 11-4
Hokutofuji (M12) 11-4
Ura (M7) 10-5
Stick with VMTV for Sumo news between now and the next basho. The VMTV Sumo guide can be found here.
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