UFC 267 Preview & Predictions
By Cathal Geeney
Jan ‘Prince of Cieszyn’ Blachowicz v Glover Teixeira
Jan Blachowicz returns to Fight Island to defend his belt against Glover Teixeira. The Polish fighter will have fond memories of his last trip here, having defeated Dominic Reyes to become the UFC light heavyweight champion.
Jan followed up his title victory with an impressive decision win over current middleweight champ, Isreal Adesanya, and now looks to make it back-to-back successful defences.
With an extensive record in Muay Thai, Blachowicz will hope to show off his arsenal of striking offence this weekend. The Polish fighter possesses knockout power with both his fists and his kicks, and he will look to find a stoppage. Jan likes to come forward and follow up his jab with big hooks as well as looking to powerful body kicks, all the while switching stances and creating angles.
In addition to his striking, Jan is a very dangerous grappler, with nine of his twenty-eight MMA victories coming by submission. It was ultimately the takedowns which secured his win over Adesanya as he managed to land three takedowns in the final three rounds. It will be interesting to see what approach he takes against a competitor like Glover who is equally, if not more, comfortable on the mat.
The best option for the Prince of Cieszyn may be to avoid any grappling exchanges where possible.
Having last fought for the UFC gold over seven years ago, few would have predicted that Glover would get his next chance at the ripe old age of forty-two. The veteran fighter has surpassed many people’s expectations in the last number of years and has managed to amass a five-fight win streak.
Most impressively were his two most recent victories, finishing two former title challengers in Anthony Smith and Thiago Santos.
Teixeira isn’t necessarily the fastest striker, or smoothest grappler, but the Brazilian brings power and pressure and imposes his will on his opponent. He can look to his strength and land a knockout blow or alternatively get the fight to the mat and dominate with dangerous ground and pound and submission attempts.
In addition to the above, one of the biggest assets of Teixeira is his durability. His defence can be suspect at times, and he often gets caught with what big shots. Yet the Brazilian finds a way to avoid being finished, manages to latch onto a leg, secures a takedown, and turns the fight around. Even in his last fight with Thiago Santos, twice he looked to be in real danger, before turning the tables almost immediately both times.
This is an interesting matchup between two competitors with a lot in common. Both are veteran fighters who have experienced their fair share of loss (Blachowicz has 8 careers defeats while Teixeira has 7), both have been written off as being too old or not good enough to be a champion, and yet both have never quit on themselves and keep finding a way to win.
Jan is the more technical striker and should have a speed advantage. If he can keep the fight standing, and keep landing strikes at range, he should be able to retain gold on the night. While for Glover, he will likely need to keep pushing the pace and to get close, where he can mix in takedown attempts with his inside boxing. It’s so difficult to write Teixeira off as we know just how well he can overcome adversity and turn it around. And when he manages to secure a top position on the canvas, he is devastating.
This is a tough one to call and I would have no surprises if Glover was to become the one of the oldest UFC champions in history. However, I will go with my head here and stick with Jan Blachowicz managing to retain his belt.
Petr ‘No Mercy’ Yan v Cory ‘The Sandman’ Sandhagen
In quite remarkable circumstances, Petr Yan and Cory Sandhagen will fight for the interim bantamweight belt, despite both men coming off losses. Yan last fought back in March where he was disqualified for an illegal knee against Aljamain Sterling, while Sandhagens last bout was a very close decision loss to TJ Dillashaw, in what was a highly entertaining fight.
As TJ Dillashaw and Sterling are both currently side-lined by injury, the opportunity has fallen into the lap of Sandhagen.
While the Sandman may have been fortunate to get the call to fly to Fight Island, there are many who feel that this was always just a matter of time. The American has seven wins and two losses in his UFC career to date.
Cory Sandhagen is an exciting striker, constantly switching stances and letting his hands go, as well as mixing in kicks to the legs, body and head of his opponent. The Colorado native continuously looks to come forward and has a high-volume output. He has added some flair to his attack of late as well, picking up Performance of the Night bonuses for his last two victories over Marlon Moraes and Frankie Edgar.
The twenty-nine-year-old will have been disappointed with his recent loss against Dillashaw, however. He looked to have the advantage on the feet and had TJ badly hurt at times but just didn’t match the energy of his opponent and let the result get away from him.
In Petr Yan, Sandhagen will likely have his toughest test to date. The Russian fights out of an orthodox stance, occasionally switching, and relies primarily on his boxing. He holds a tight guard with his power hand always protecting his chin. Yan likes to dictate the pace, constantly walking his opponent down and ready to let his hands go with powerful combinations. Despite technically losing his last fight, this was more down to a moment of madness from Yan, in throwing a reckless knee to a grounded opponent, as opposed being outclassed. Prior to this, the Tiger Muay Thai fighter has never been defeated in the UFC.
While both are very exciting strikers, the former ACB bantamweight titleholder could have an advantage in the grappling exchanges. Sandhagens unorthodox, attacking style leaves him somewhat exposed for a takedown and it is therefore no surprise that he has been taken down at least once in seven of his last nine fights. Petr Yan also made a statement against Sterling in his last fight where he completely shut down the wrestling threat of his opposite number and manged to secure seven takedowns of his own.
This is a very exciting fight, particularly due to the striking skills which will be on display. Both fighters are incredible strikers yet bring different styles. The grappling advantage should fall to Petr Yan, and in addition to his powerful striking, he will enter the octagon as the favourite.
Despite this, I feel that Sandhagen has the potential to cause some problems with his high output and reach advantage. The defeat to TJ Dillashaw may also prove to be exactly what was needed to increase the urgency of the Elevation Fight Team Athlete. And for this reason, I am picking Sandhagen to cause a shock and become the next bantamweight titleholder. It is a tall order and Cory will need to be extremely focused to fight any takedown attempts and keep the fight on his terms. But I like his chances going into the co-main event as an underdog.