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!
Frans Mlambo Out, Arturo Vergara In For May 29 Combate Global Event
Frans Mlambo, the number one contender in Combate Global’s bantamweight division, will be replaced by hard-hitting Arturo Vergara (2-0 MMA; 3-1 Kickboxing) of Los Andes, Chile via Miami. Vergara will challenge Martinez of Mexico City, Mexico in a bantamweight non-title bout.
Combate Global today announced a new main event for its show on Sunday, May 29 in Miami, Fla., due to an abdominal injury sustained by Ireland’s Frans “The Zulu Irishman” Mlambo (13-5), who had been scheduled to challenge reigning Combate Global World Bantamweight (135 pounds) Champion David “The Black Spartan” Martinez (6-1) for Martinez’s title.
Combate Global will announce television programming details as well as the complete fight card for the event on Tuesday, May 24.
“We wish Frans a full and speedy recovery,” said Combate Global CEO Campbell McLaren, “and are excited to debut Chile’s Arturo Vergara, who is coming off an incredible, nine-second knockout! I have a lot of respect for Arturo stepping up because David Martinez is as tough an opponent as they come.”
Unbeaten to date under MMA rules, Vergara produced a stunning, nine-second knockout via a flying knee strike of Cody Schieve on May 6. The speedy win followed another first round (2:21) TKO (strikes) that Vergara notched in his MMA rules debut against Steven Orozco on February 19.
Prior to his first MMA start, Vergara had competed exclusively under kickboxing rules, amassing over 80 bouts as an amateur, and a 3-1 record as a professional. The 23-year-old Martinez of Mexico City will enter La Jaula, the Combate Global competition cage, for the first time since he was crowned world champion one year ago, on May 29, 2021.
A member of Team Bonebreakers, Martinez defeated three consecutive opponents – including championship round adversary Francisco “Cisco” Rivera, Jr. via second round (0:17) TKO (head kick and punches) – in one night, to become world champion.
UFC London | 5 Fighters Who Have To Be On The Card
Immediately after UFC London earlier in the year, the ball started rolling towards a second UK event in 2022 after Dana White made it clear he wanted to come back soon. Whilst the year’s first event at the O2 Arena delivered one of the best non-PPV events in recent history, there’s still more ground to cover. Aspinall vs Volkov was stacked with home fighters but there are still a handful that missed out on fighting in front of the UK.
Here are five UK fighters that deserve a chance to fight at the O2 Arena after missing out the first time. Not that we’re complaining if the likes of Paddy Pimblett and Jai Herbert show up on this card also.
5. Dom Wooding
Yes it is true, we will never stop banging this drum. After defending his Cage Warriors bantamweight title in December of last year, we had our fingers crossed that London would come around in time for Dom Wooding. The ‘Black Panther’ didn’t get the call up on that occasion but absence has only made the heart grow fonder. This is the time for Dom Wooding to fight in the UFC and if you don’t believe us, maybe ‘The Last Stylebender’ can change your mind.
4. Mason Jones
Mason ‘The Dragon’ Jones has had quite a stop and start UFC career since joining the promotion as a double champion in Cage Warriors. The Welshman is 1-1-1 in the UFC so far and would have picked up some decent momentum if his fight with Alan Patrick hadn’t been stopped due to an accidental eye poke in a fight he was winning comfortably. A win over late notice replacement David Onama, who recently picked up a first UFC win of his own, has got Jones back on the right path after a tough introduction to the UFC against Mike Davis. Jones always delivers great fights due to his high pressure and output style and a win in London could be exactly the kind of moment he needs to really put the past behind him and push on in the UFC.
3. Lerone Murphy
For the vast majority of UK fight fans, Lerone Murphy came out of nowhere when he debuted in the UFC. Now on a 3-fight win streak after his debut resulted in a draw at UFC 242, Murphy has been putting on increasingly impressive performances every time he has stepped foot in the Octagon. Still yet to fight in front of UK fans, ‘The Miracle’ will have a huge fight on his hands in his next outing as he looks to step foot in the rankings of the stacked featherweight division.
2. Davey Grant
Davey Grant has really made a name for himself in recent times as a must watch fighter who will steal a main card. After chaining back-to-back finishes, Grant may have lost two of his last three fights but his stock in the UFC has risen massively. His fights with Marlon Vera and Adrian Yanez put Grant on the map when it comes to value for money fighters. Now back in the win column after his 3rd round finish over Louis Smolka at the weekend, Grant said in his post fight interview about making a quick turn around and potentially fighting in London. We know we are asking for a lot with the card already being incredibly busy but Davey Grant opening the main card with a barnburner is sure to blow the roof off of the O2 just like the last time the UFC came calling.
1. Nathaniel Wood
Luck has not been on Nathaniel Wood’s side as of late. Three cancelled fights in a row meant he missed out on the first London card even after he was found a replacement opponent. An illness forced Vince Morales out of their bout which seemed to be opening the event and setting the tone for the evening with the return of ‘The Prospect’ in front of his people. After going 4-2 as a bantamweight in the UFC but losing to two top fighters in John Dodson and Casey Kenney, Wood has announced he is moving up a weight class since his fight in London fell off. Nathaniel Wood deserves this chance to fight in London after losing out at such short notice last time around and we can’t wait to see how he stacks up amongst the rest of the 145 pound division.
Fight To Watch | Muhammad Mokaev vs Charles Johnson
Fights are being booked fast and furiously for July 23rd as the UFC’s anticipated return to London approaches. With fireworks expected throughout the whole event, MMAPlay365 and VMTV have scoured through the card and selected Muhammad Mokaev vs Charles Johnson as our ‘Fight To Watch’ on the night.
Muhammad Mokaev returns to the octagon following a successful debut back at UFC London in March against Cody Durden. ‘The Punisher’ made light work of his American counter-part, submitting him in the first round via guillotine choke with very little problems. His upcoming opponent, Charles Johnson, signs with the UFC after an impressive four-fight winning streak on LFA, which saw him capture and defend flyweight gold.
His ability to mix it up on the feet and in grappling scenarios make this a much more dangerous bout for Mokaev stylistically, but it’s still nothing the 21 year old won’t be able to handle in the eyes of MMAPlay365 CEO, Adam Newsome:
“At this stage of Muhammad Mokaev’s UFC career every fight is going to be a test. And just because you haven’t heard of Charles Johnson doesn’t mean he isn’t a good fighter. Johnson was the Flyweight Champion in LFA. If you aren’t familiar with LFA it’s basically the American equivalent of Cage Warriors. You are battle tested in LFA and if you become a Champion the chances are the UFC are going to sign you.
So this is a very interesting match-up but still right now I don’t think that Mokaev gets tested enough to the point he loses. This is going to be another fight I see him doing extremely well in and I don’t see Mokaev losing a fight until he hits the top 20 of the division. But even when that time comes, he is going to have improved and developed so much that he could run through that pool of fighters at that time. If a fighter is going to beat Mokaev outside the best fighters in the division then now is the time to do it whilst he’s still developing. But even though he’s still developing he’s still a problem. I’m not sure Mokaev finds another finish here so I am predicting a dominant three round decision victory for Muhammad Mokaev.”
Cauley Quilty, Editor for VMTV, had this to say on the fight: “Muhammad Mokaev is always a treat to watch in action and his UFC debut back in March was nothing short of spectacular! He came to make a statement and did exactly that getting the first round finish and I see him doing the same thing when he steps back out there against Charles Johnson. His extensive amateur career and impressive run of professional performances make it almost impossible to not side with Mokaev in this bout, especially with the way he defeated Durden on his debut.
However, Charles Johnson isn’t an opponent anyone should underestimate as his resume and recent performances speak for themselves! His fight vs Carlos ‘Mota’ Tizil was a barnburner and with 8 of his 11 wins coming by way of finish you know he can get the job done when needed. Both fighters are highly touted and respected so expect the winner of this to receive a bump up in competition on their next outing.”
Who do you think leaves the ‘Fight To Watch’ with their hand raised? Be sure to let us know your predictions below!
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