*This was originally posted October 28, 2021*

UFC 267 is one of the most highly anticipated cards of the year with two belts on the line, a main card full of top prospects and plenty of prelims to watch. Each of these main card bouts could have headlined a regular fight night, but we’re getting treated (FOR FREE) to this monumental card. We’re also blessed with a massive undercard of 9 prelims which include a number of exciting bouts. Below, I’ll be giving my predictions for all those fights along with the BET99 Sportsbook odds at the time this article was posted. In addition to previewing the UFC 267 action, I’ll also be sharing some thoughts about Week 9 of Dana White’s Contender Series.

Main Card (11 AM PST)

Magomed Ankalaev vs. Volkan Oezdemir

BET99 Odds

Ankalaev: -300 Oezdemir: +233

Over 2.5: +116 Under 2.5: -148

This should be a tightly contested bout in the light heavyweight division with Ankalaev ranked 7th and Oezdemir ranked 8th. Both fighters have a similar reach and age, so, the differences that we’ll be looking at come in their resumes. Ankalaev has been unstoppable for (almost) his entire career and sits at 15-1 with two wins over a beast, Ion Cutelaba, and a recent win over another top contender, Nikita Krylov. Oezdemir, on the other hand, lost his last bout, but it was to the most fearsome contender in the division, Jiri Prochazka.

In terms of experience, Oezdemir has fought the tougher contenders, but he’s also lost most of those fights including bouts with Reyes, Smith and Cormier. In fact, he’s only won 2 of his last 6 fights. While Ankalaev hasn’t fought those tougher contenders, he clearly has the momentum moving in the right direction. For that reason, I’m leaning towards Ankalaev, but this fight should be closer than the odds suggest. Finally, because these are two powerful light heavyweights, I’m expecting this fight will likely end in a finish.

BLÜ’s Prediction:

Ankalaev by Finish

Jingliang Li vs. Khamzat Chimaev

BET99 Odds

Li: +400 Chimaev: -567

Over 1.5: -113 Under 1.5: -113

Finally, after waiting a year, we’ve got the long-awaited return of the legendary rookie of 2020. If you haven’t heard of this guy by now you’re either brand new to watching the UFC…or you’re a casual. It’s difficult to capture the attention of the entire MMA community but when you have a debut like this, it’s inevitable. After 3 fights in the UFC, he has been hit a grand total of 2 times. That being said, the only recognizable name out of those three fighters is Gerald Meerschaert, but he also finished Gerald in 17 seconds and didn’t get hit. On Jingliang’s side, he is currently ranked 11th in the division. Although he has quite a few wins in the UFC, there are only two fairly recognizable names on his resume: his last win against Ponzinibbio and a loss to Neil Magny.

Perhaps I may have already given away my pick, but with an absolutely absurd statistic like 2 strikes absorbed in 3 fights, plus the fact that Li is fairly unestablished in the rankings yet, one would have to believe that Chimaev is winning this fight. It should be noted that this is very clearly Chimaev’s toughest fight to date, but again, because of his record last year, I have to imagine that he’ll likely get a finish.

BLÜ’s Prediction:

Chimaev by finish

Alexander Volkov vs. Marcin Tybura

BET99 Odds

Volkov: -313 Tybura: +240

Over 2.5: -113 Under 2.5: -113

Two huge heavyweights are going to clash in this bout including UFC veteran Alex Volkov. Both are currently ranked, Volkov is 5th, Tybura is ranked 9th. Volkov lost his last bout to current interim champ Ciryl Gane but has recent wins over UFC legend Overeem and Walt Harris. Tybura, however, is currently on a 5 fight win streak to contenders like Harris, Rothwell and Spivak. One difference that will always be pointed out is Volkov’s staggering height and reach which he takes into almost every bout as he stands at 6’7″ with a reach of 81″. That being said, Tybura is 6’3″ with a 78″ reach, so Volkov’s physical advantage is minimal.

This seems like it’ll be a tightly contested bout. But, because Volkov is slightly younger, slightly heavier, slightly longer and slightly more experienced, I have to give him the edge. These are small differences, but when added up, it may make the difference. Also, he survived the entire fight against Ciryl Gane, which is a feat in itself. While heavyweights tend to see a much higher finishing rate, because of their similarities, I’m leaning towards a decision in this fight. But, always keep in mind that every heavyweight has fight-ending power.

BLÜ’s Prediction:

Volkov by Decision

Islam Makhachev vs. Dan Hooker

BET99 Odds

Makhachev: -650 Hooker: +450

Over 2.5: -160 Under 2.5: +125

The odds are wildly one-sided for this one but I don’t believe that’s entirely fair. Islam is at a record of 20-1 but he’s never fought any real top contenders except for his last two: Thiago Moises and Drew Dober. But when you compare this to Dan Hooker’s resume, Hooker is clearly the more experienced. Recently, of course, with his recent fights with Chandler and Poirier, but let’s not forget he’s beaten Felder, Iaquinta and Burns. Another difference is the reach of Hooker; he has an extra 5 inches.

There’s so much leaning towards Hooker, but there seems to be something special about Makhachev. It could be that he’s from Dagestan. It may be because Khabib is his corner. It may be because Khabib speaks so highly of Islam. But I have a feeling that he’ll be overwhelming Hooker with his pressure. This is a matchup that, stylistically, favours Islam. He’s a wrestler that gets in close to negate Hooker’s reach and his offence. We saw Haqparast try this in Hooker’s last fight but he lost the decision. The difference is that Islam is essentially a much stronger, much more skilled version of Haqparast. It’s because of this that I think Makhachev will win. I will say, a huge factor for me is that this fight is 3 rounds. If it were 5 rounds, I think Hooker would have a much greater chance of finishing Islam or at least tiring him out and getting a decision. But in a 3 rounder, I just don’t think he can get it done. Remember though, bettors beware, this fight is much closer than it appears.

BLÜ’s Prediction:

Makhachev by Decision

Co-Main Event

Petr Yan vs. Cory Sandhagen

BET99 Odds

Yan: -220 Sandhagen: +180

Over 4.5: -140 Under 4.5: +110

This is another one that is much closer than the odds suggest. By now, you must know the situation with Yan. He lost the belt to Sterling from an illegal knee. But let’s not forget he was surely winning the fight before that. In fact, he was dominating Sterling before that. So, one could really argue that Yan is still the champ of the division right now, plus, other than that one, he’s never lost in the UFC and has wins over Aldo, Faber, Rivera and Dodson. On the other hand, you’ve got Sandhagen. While he lost in a split decision to Dillashaw just a few months ago, many still argue that he won that fight. I thought he won, the commentators thought he won, Khabib thought he won. So, here you could even argue Sandhagen is the number one contender in the division. And don’t forget, his last two wins before that are still shown on highlight reels with stunning KOs over Edgar and Moraes.

This is a tough matchup for both of them. Sandhagen is taller and very awkward to deal with. Yan is powerful and very technical and well-rounded. Because Yan is so technical, I think he can deal with the awkwardness of Sandhagen’s style so I’m leaning that way. Also, because I think this will be going to a decision, I think Yan’s style of fighting favours that kind of fight; he can control Cory, land his own shots, land some takedowns and win on the cards. But again, don’t count Cory out, he has a better chance than many people believe.

BLÜ’s Prediction:

Yan by Decision

Main Event

Jan Blachowicz vs. Glover Teixera

BET99 Odds

Blachowicz: -313 Teixera: +240

Over 2.5: -123 Under 2.5: -106

This one isn’t quite as close as the previous title fight. Although Glover’s recent record is impressive with wins over Santos, Smith, Krylov and Cutelaba, it’s just not as impressive as Jan’s record. As we know, Blachowicz recently took Adesanya’s 0, which is really impressive in itself considering he’s one of the most dominant champions we’ve seen in a while. But when you add in what he did to win the title against Dominick Reyes and what he did to Corey Anderson’s face; he clearly has the edge.

Record aside, Jan also has a slight reach advantage and is slightly younger. Not to mention, he’s noticeably more shredded than Glover, which, of course, means more power. Blachowicz is one of the most underrated champions the UFC has had in a while, he should really be a larger favourite here, I’m giving him the win and saying he’ll probably get a late finish.

BLÜ’s Prediction:

Blachowicz by Finish

BLU’s Prelim Picks (Prelims begin at 7:30 AM PST)

Honestly, the prelims for this card are as stacked as a main card for a normal fight night, so this entire card isn’t something you’ll want to miss. But, for the sake of this article, I’ll only be highlighting a few of them.

Amanda Ribas vs. Virna Jandiroba

BET99 Odds

Ribas: -167 Jandiroba: +136

Over 2.5: -250 Under 2.5: +185

This is one of the tightest matchups of the night. Ribas is coming in ranked number 11, Virna is ranked 12th. Ribas lost her lost one out, which is her only loss in the UFC so far, but that was to Marina Rodriguez who we just saw win a few weeks ago in the main event. Other than that she’s beatan VanZant, Markos and, by far the most impressive, Dern. Jandiroba is coming in after a win against Kanako Murata. She has two losses in the UFC but only to the best of the division, Dern and Esparza.

This is likely shaping up to be a decision because of all their physical similarities and their records. This is a coin toss for me, so I’ll be going with the fighter who’s won more decisions in her career, Amanda Ribas.

BLÜ’s Prediction:

Ribas by Decision

Albert Duraev vs. Roman Kopylov

BET99 Odds

Duraev: -350 Kopylov: +266

Over 1.5: -150 Under 1.5: +116

I’m highlighting this prelim because, if you’re a Contender Series fan, you’ll recognize Duraev from just a month ago. While he’s got that bit of experience winning in the spotlight on DWCS, Kopylov doesn’t have that. Kopylov has only fought once in the UFC and it was a loss.

I’m thinking Duraev will ride that momentum and may even grab a finish. Another important fact is that Kopylov hasn’t fought in two years and hasn’t won in three.

BLÜ’s Prediction:

Duraev by finish

Yaozong Hu vs. Andre Petroski

BET99 Odds

Hu: +190 Petroski: -240

Over 1.5: -160 Under 1.5: +125

Similar to that last prelim, I’ve featured this one due to Petroski’s appearance on this season of The Ultimate Fighter. He was one of the favourites going into the season and made it into the second round. In the end, he lost to Bryan Battle who actually won the finale. On the other side we’ve got Hu who has a 3-2 record and has lost both of his fights in the UFC.

Needless to say, I’ve also put this fight in here as a chance for a parlay, considering Petroski is the heavy favourite. There’s also a solid chance at a seeing a finish.

BLÜ’s Prediction:

Petroski by Finish

BLÜ’s Best Bets

Here I highlight some betting lines that you might want to take advantage of for UFC 267. These are odds that favour the better. Although some of them may conflict with my picks, they offer a fair reward for a slight bit of risk.

Jan Blachowicz vs. Glover Teixera: Over 2.5 at -123

Cory Sandhagen at +180 AND the fight under 4.5 at +110

As mentioned above, Sandhagen has a better chance than many people realize, which is why Yan is not included in the parlays below. Also, both of these men have chances at finishes, so, +110 for under 4.5 rounds is a great line to put a couple bucks on.

Dan Hooker at +450

These odds are heavily slanted in the direction of Islam. While I believe Islam is a safer choice, there’s a chance that Hooker can swarm Islam on the feet and get a KO. It’s worth sprinkling a few dollars at.

Parlay Opportunities

The Short Run

Chimaev + Makhachev + Blachowicz

The Long Run

Petroski + Duraev + Ankalaev + Chimaev + Makhachev + Blachowicz

Dana White’s Contender Series Week 9

This week we saw Dana White hand out 5 contracts after 6 bouts.

Contract #1: Manuel Torres

Another controversial win here with Torres winning after a possible eye poke. Englund had his hand over his eye and was talking to the ref but Torres took advantage of the situation and got the TKO win. Controversy aside, Torres showed his killer instinct and power and deserves his contract.

Contract #2: Karine Silva

Yan came to fight! She clearly dominated the first round. But then, after a couple of poor decisions, Yan left her neck open and Silva came in and got an impressive submission win. We need more women, especially one with no quit; she deserves the contract.

Contract #3: Javid Basharat

Not much to say here other than Basharat won every second of that fight. He was strong on the feet and on the ground, very clearly UFC ready.

Contract #4: Christian Quinonez

Although this fight was set up tp be one of the most one-sided according to the odds, but both fighters landed huge shots the whole fight. Ultimately, Quinonez just landed more of them and more significant ones. Overall, a solid bout for both fighters.

Contract #5: Gadzhi Omargadzhiev

Another textbook Dagestani win here. Gadzhi took Silva down right away, smothered him and got a devastating first round submission, absolutely shredding Silva’s knee. He’s going to be a dangerous addition to the UFC.

Other winner:

Olivier Murad

It was a crazy first round with both fighters controlling their own areas. Xie controlled on the ground and Murad got quite a few good shots on the feet. This really just continued for the rest of the fight. Because Xie was on top of Murad for half the fight, it seemed as though he was the clear winner. Sadly, the judges disagreed and gave Murad a split decision victory. Neither fighter really showed enough to get a contract.

BLÜ’s Top Contenders:

  1. Gadzhi Omargadzhiev
  2. Javid Basharat
  3. Christian Quinonez
  4. Manuel Torres
  5. Karine Silva
  6. Long Xiao

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