*This was originally posted on October 31, 2021*
UFC 267 blessed fight fans with one of the best cards of the year and one of the best cards that I’ve ever seen. It had everything a fight fan could want; devastating KOs, sickening submissions, some drama, the homecoming of a superstar and two new champions. Also, it was refreshing to see fans in the stands again, especially with a middle-eastern audience. I find these audiences to be much more respectful and knowledgeable about the sport of MMA. We didn’t hear boos as fighters grappled on the ground, only cheers and claps as fighters put their skills on display. All of the action, along with the results of my predictions and my BLÜ BONUSES can be found below.
Tagir Ulanbekov def. Allan Nascimento by Split Decision (29-28, 28-29, 29-28)
We started off the night with an incredible display of MMA. Nascimento had an edge on the feet, but it was a very tightly fought battle on the ground. Both fighters had deep submission attempts throughout the fight. Although Nascimento looked incredibly dangerous fighting off of his back, ultimately, because of the top control time, Ulanbekov won the decision. Somewhat controversially, the judge’s landed at a split decision. With over 10 minutes of control time, based on the scoring guidelines, it was clear that he had earned a 29-28, but at least we saw the correct result in this case.
BLÜ’s Prelim. Pick #1
Yaozong Hu vs. Andre Petroski
This bout was featured due to Petroski’s appearance on this season of The Ultimate Fighter. He was one of the favourites going into the season but lost in the second round to Bryan Battle who won the finale. On the other side we had Hu who had a 3-2 record and had lost both of his fights in the UFC. Because of Petroski’s odds, I had put this fight as a chance for a parlay and also a solid chance at a finish.
Petroski by Finish
Petroski was just one step ahead in every department. In the first round alone, Hu was hit with a dozen or more huge, clean punches and was stuck in a deep submission attempt. This dominance continued throughout all 3 rounds. I have no idea how Hu was tough enough to endure such a beating until the end of the third round. In the end, Petroski got a very late submission with around 15 seconds left in the fight.
Andre Petroski def. Yaozong Hu by Submission in the 3rd Round
Lerone Murphy def. Makwan Amirkhani by KO in the 2nd Round
I had actually picked Amirkhani to win this fight on Tapology and even made a small bet on him because I thought he was being severely underestimated. After the first round this was justified as he had clearly controlled Murphy the entire round. I was getting excited, getting ready to cash my money, when Murphy’s knee came out of nowhere and slept Amirkhani at the very start of the second round. In fact, he was still sleeping when they read out the decision. If Murphy can do that to someone as experienced as Amirkhani, he should be fighting a ranked fighter soon.
Michal Oleksiejczuk def. Shamil Gamzatov by TKO in the 1st Round
Michal walked him down every second of this fight. Because of that pressure, Gamzatov couldn’t get any of his offence going. In the end, that pressure was too much, Oleksiejczuk landed a massive shot that dropped Gamzatov for an impressive first round finish.
Elizeu Zaleski def. Benoit Saint-Denis by Unanimous Decision
The fight started off a little lacklustre, but in the second round this fight got explosive. Zaleski absolutely lit up, dismantled, dominated, threw absolutely everything at Saint Denis. The real story of this fight then became the reffing. The commentators were screaming at the ref to stop the fight but it didn’t end there. Amazingly, Saint-Denis still landed some big shots and a takedown; but by then, the damage was done. Adding to the controversy, Saint-Denis was eye poked, said he couldn’t see and the ref did not send in the doctor (as is mandatory in this situation). Yet another controversial moment arose minutes later when Zaleski had a point removed without warning after an accidental (and quite weak) groin strike. This was by far the worst display of reffing I have ever witnessed. It was disclosed later in the prelims that the ref was removed from his duties for the rest of the card. The UFC once again showed its dedication to fighter safety and professionalism.
BLÜ’s Prelim. Pick #2
Albert Duraev vs. Roman Kopylov
I highlighted this prelim because, if you’re a Contender Series fan, you’ll recognize Duraev from just a month ago. I was thinking Duraev would ride that momentum and might even grab a finish. Another important fact was that Kopylov hadn’t fought in two years and hadn’t won in three.
Duraev by finish
The fight was pretty even on the feet, but after Kopylov landed a big one at the start of the second, Duraev started to use his wrestling. He got on top after the ref restarted the exchange after an intentional fence grab from Kopylov. After some vicious ground and pound, he was saved by the bell from a deep, deep submission attempt at the end of the round.
Albert Duraev def. Roman Kopylov by Unanimous Decision
Zubaira Tukhugov def. Ricardo Ramos by Unanimous Decision
Going into the fight, Tukhugov was the clear favourite on the ground. But, unexpectedly, he was piecing Ramos up on the feet pretty good the whole first round. He had a scary moment though as Ramos landed a huge spinning elbow. The rest of the fight was a tight standup battle with both fighters landing strikes. In the end, thanks to his edge in activity and his late takedowns, Tukhugov won a unanimous 29-28 decision.
BLÜ’s Prelim. Pick #3
Amanda Ribas vs. Virna Jandiroba
Ribas came in ranked number 11, Virna was ranked 12th. Ribas lost her last one out, which was her only loss in the UFC, but that was to Marina Rodriguez who we just saw win a few weeks ago in the main event. 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 was shaping up to be a decision because of all their physical similarities and their records. This was a coin toss for me, so I went with the fighter who had won more decisions in her career, Amanda Ribas.
Ribas by Decision
This was just as close of a fight as expected. Both fighters showed that they deserve to be top contenders in the division. The difference-maker in this fight was Ribas’ activity, she outlanded Jandiroba by quite a bit to win the 29-28 unanimous decision.
Amanda Ribas def. Virna Jandiroba by Unanimous Decision (29-28)
Amanda Ribas showed that she’s still a serious contender in the division. As such, she deserves an opponent in the top 10. We haven’t seen the Karate Hottie (Waterson) in a while; that could be a good matchup. Another matchup could be Nina Nunes or Claudia Gadelha who are both coming off of losses to top contenders.
Main Card Action
Magomed Ankalaev vs. Volkan Oezdemir
This was set up to be a tightly contested bout in the light heavyweight division with Ankalaev ranked 7th and Oezdemir ranked 8th. 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 leaned towards Ankalaev. Finally, because these are two powerful light heavyweights, I expected this fight to end in a finish.
Ankalaev by Finish
This was another fairly closely fought bout but Ankalaev showed he’s just on a different level; he landed the cleaner, more powerful blows and controlled Oezdemir along the fence.
Magomed Ankalaev def. Volkan Oezdemir by Unanimous Decision (30-27, 30-27, 29-28)
Ankalaev is proving to be dangerous to the division and has shown he could likely compete with a top 5 contender. Dominick Reyes, after losing the last few, might be a solid matchup. Santos might also be an appropriate matchup; he wasn’t all that impressive in his last fight, he could earn his place at the top by finishing Ankalaev.
Jingliang Li vs. Khamzat Chimaev
Finally, after waiting a year, we had the long-awaited return of the Khamzat Chimaev. 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 would win this fight. It should be noted that this was very clearly set up to be Chimaev’s toughest fight to date, but again, because of his record last year, I had to predict that he’d likely get a finish.
Chimaev by finish
Yet another unbelievable, otherworldly performance by the terror of the division, Khamzat Chimaev. He picked Li off of his feet and put him in the corner without getting hit once again. Once he was down there he overwhelmed him every second on the ground, had multiple deep submission attempts until he sucked the life out of “Leech”, putting him to sleep halfway through the first round.
Khamzat Chimaev def. Jingliang Li by Submission in the 1st Round
This man is so dominant that it seems he’s truly capable of beating anybody in welterweight OR middleweight. He could fight anyone; he could fight Belal, Chiesa or Magny and they’d all be favourable matchups for him. What I would be interested in seeing though; he’s only been hit once or twice…put him in there with one of the best strikers in the division: ‘Wonderboy’ Thompson. Put him at middleweight? Throw him at Gastelum, Strickland or Till. I’m sure this shutout streak will end his next fight; I’m even sure there will be fights soon where he won’t get a finish, but who will be the first to actually test this absolute beast? I can’t wait to find out. But at this point, he’s one, maybe two dominant wins from a title shot.
Alexander Volkov vs. Marcin Tybura
Volkov lost his last bout to current interim champ Ciryl Gane but has recent wins over UFC legend Overeem and Walt Harris. Tybura, however, was on a 5 fight win streak to contenders like Harris, Rothwell and Spivak. This seemed like it’d be a tightly contested bout. But, because Volkov is slightly younger, slightly heavier, slightly longer and slightly more experienced, I had to give him the edge. While heavyweights tend to see a much higher finishing rate, because of their similarities, I leaned towards a decision in this fight.
Volkov by Decision
It was a close fight but Volkov edged ahead of Tybura on the cards with his extra activity. Tybura really struggled with Volkov’s extra reach and his height in general. He couldn’t get the takedowns and couldn’t get his range down.
Alexander Volkov def. Marcin Tybura by Unanimous Decision (30-27, 30-27, 29-28)
Since Lewis and Daukaus are slated to fight soon, it seems to make sense that Volkov should face the winner of that fight. Another possible fight for Volkov could be the return of Stipe since he hasn’t fought since his loss to Ngannou.
Islam Makhachev vs. Dan Hooker
The odds were wildly one-sided for this one but I didn’t believe that was entirely fair. Islam was at a record of 20-1 but he had never fought any real top contenders except for his last two: Thiago Moises and Drew Dober. There was so much leaning towards Hooker, but there seemed 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 had a feeling that he would overwhelm Hooker with his pressure. 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.
Makhachev by Decision
Makhachev showed everyone why he was such a huge betting favourite. He simply just stuck to his plan, got the takedown right away, used that classic Dagestani pressure and got a nasty submission win, almost breaking Hooker’s arm in the process.
Islam Makhachev def. Dan Hooker by Submission in the 1st Round
He’s said it himself, he seems to be in line for the next title shot against the winner of Poirier and Oliveira. After this performance, it can’t be denied that he can easily compete with the top of the division. Let’s not forget that Poirier beat Hooker by decision. He may not be the most entertaining fighter in the division, but he’s certainly a very dangerous title contender.
Petr Yan vs. Cory Sandhagen
This is another one that was much closer on paper than the odds suggested. One could really argue that Yan is still the champ of the division right now, plus, other than the one with Sterling, 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. So, here you could even argue Sandhagen is the number one contender. And don’t forget, his last two wins before that are still shown on highlight reels with stunning KOs over Edgar and Moraes. This was 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 was thinking that he could deal with the awkwardness of Sandhagen’s style so I leaned that way. Also, because I thought this would go to a decision, I thought Yan’s style of fighting favoured that kind of fight; he can control Cory, land his own shots, land some takedowns and win on the cards.
Yan by Decision
In this fight of the night bout to determine the interim bantamweight champion, this fight was just as close as we thought it would be. Sandhagen won the first couple rounds with his extra output, but in the 3rd round Yan took over after knocking Cory down. After that, this fight was mostly Yan. It was close enough that the judges could have gone either way with their decisions.
Petr Yan def. Cory Sandhagen by Unanimous Decision (49-46)
For Yan there is only one, very clear, opponent and that is the current champ: Sterling. Honestly, as long as he doesn’t make a huge mistake like last time, he should very easily win that rematch and will likely get a fight with TJ Dillashaw. As for Sandhagen, he showed us that he’s rightfully ranked at the number 1 or number two contender right now. I have a feeling he’ll be fighting Merab next as he’s on his way up and the rest of the top contenders are busy.
Jan Blachowicz vs. Glover Teixera
Although Glover’s recent record was 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 held the edge with his recent record. Record aside, Jan also had a slight reach advantage and was slightly younger. Not to mention, he’s noticeably more shredded than Glover, which, of course, means more power. I gave Jan the win and said he was probably going to get a late finish.
Blachowicz by Finish
Most fight fans, including myself, thought that Jan came in with a few obvious edges in power, but this entire fight was all Glover. He got an early takedown in the first round and just laid on top of him; he didn’t do much while he was there, but he made it clear that if he brought Jan to the ground, it was going to be a terrible night for Jan. At the start of the 2nd round Jan showed a glimmer of hope, but then it was all over; Glover shocked the world with a devastating submission win in the 2nd round. I’m a fan of Blachowicz, but both of these fighters are great people and it’s amazing to see Glover’s dream come true after such a long and storied career.
Glover Teixeira def. Jan Blachowicz by Submission in the 2nd Round
The next title challenger is clear: Jiri Prochazka. He was the backup for this title fight and he just put on a show against Reyes. Glover earned the belt with that incredible display against Jan, but can he stand up to an absolute destroyer like Jiri? I’m not so sure, we could be seeing a new champion very soon.
BLÜ’s Record for the Night
Main Card: 5-1
KO of the Night: Lerone Murphy
Sub of the Night: Khamzat Chimaev
Fight of the Night: Petr Yan vs. Cory Sandhagen
Most Valuable Fighters:
This guy shutout a ranked opponent, picked him off his feet and submitted him all while talking to Dana White. If this doesn’t deserve a second bonus, I don’t know what does. We may be looking at not just a future champ…but a future double champ here.
After being on the wrong end of the worst display of reffing in recent UFC history, he’s earned this bonus. He took way too much extra, unneeded punishment and tried to push through it in hopes of grinding to a decision win. You have to admire that kind of toughness.
For overcoming the odds, dominating the champ and becoming a UFC champ at age 42 after a career like he’s had, no other explanation is needed.