UFC 267: Blachowicz vs. Teixeira Preview

Glover Teixeira has been a big name in the UFC light heavyweight division for nearly an entire decade, yet he has never claimed a championship belt. That could very well change on Saturday, as at the age of 42 he will challenge UFC Light Heavyweight Champion Jan Blachowicz.

The fight headlines UFC 267, which is set to happen at the Etihad Arena in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. While the event is a numbered UFC show, it will be cheaper to access than usual for U.S. viewers, as it will air on subscription service ESPN+ instead of pay-per-view.

Here’s a preview of the entire evening.

Click here to skip to a preview of the main card.

Preliminary Card (10:30AM EDT / 6:30PM GST) (ESPN+ / TSN 5)

Bout 1: Tagir Ulanbekov (12-1) vs. Allan Nascimento (18-5) (Flyweight)

Returning for his second UFC appearance, Tagir Ulanbekov will face promotional newcomer Allan Nascimento in the opening bout of Saturday.

Ulanbekov had a successful UFC debut in October of last year, scoring a unanimous decision win over Bruno Silva. He has struggled to find a fight since then, as three different bookings in 2021 have fallen through.

Nascimento is getting the UFC call-up just three months after scoring a submission win on a regional card in Brazil. Viewers might remember Nascimento from the 2018 season of “Dana White’s Contender Series: Brazil,” where he lost to Raulian Paiva.

Bout 2: Hu Yaozong (3-2) vs. Andre Petroski (6-1) (Middleweight)

Hu Yaozong will make his return when facing former “Ultimate Fighter” contestant Andre Petroski.

Hu has been out of the cage since 2018. He has competed twice before in the UFC, although both appearances have been losses. His return bout was first set for UFC 264 in July, but that bout was thrown out after his opponent withdrew due to COVID-19 protocol.

Petroski is taking this fight on short notice to replace Alen Amedovski. He fought on Season 28 of “The Ultimate Fighter” earlier this year, losing in the semi-finals to Bryan Battle. Despite not making it to the finals, Petroski joined the UFC roster in August with a third-round submission win over Michael Gillmore.

Bout 3: Makwan Amirkhani (16-6) vs. Lerone Murphy (10-0-1) (Featherweight)

Undefeated featherweight Lerone Murphy will fight to keep his streak alive when facing Makwan Amirkhani.

Murphy has earned a draw and two wins since signing with the UFC in 2019. His last fight was in January, earning a scorecard victory over Douglas Silva de Andrade.

Amirkhani will be attempting to break a two-fight losing streak. The recent streak has come from decision losses to Edson Barboza and Kamuela Kirk over the past year.

Prior to his current skid, Amirkhani had never gone on a streak of more than one loss in his career.

Bout 4: Michal Oleksiejczuk (15-4) vs. Shamil Gamzatov (14-0) (Light Heavyweight)

Undefeated light heavyweight Shamil Gamzatov will attempt to score another UFC win in his return, facing Michal Oleksieczuk on the prelims.

Gamzatov has been out of the cage for nearly two years. He won his UFC debut in his last appearance, defeating Klidson Abreu via split decision in November 2019.

Oleksiejczuk snapped a two-fight losing streak last time around, defeating Modestas Bukauskas in March.

Bout 5: Elizeu Zaleski (22-7) vs. Benoit Saint-Denis (8-0) (Welterweight)

Benoit Saint-Denis will make his UFC debut on Saturday when facing Elizeu Zaleski.

Saint-Denis has attained eight wins since turning pro in 2019. His last five fights have taken place in notable promotion Brave CF, including three wins via stoppage.

Zaleski took a loss in his last fight, dropping a split decision against Muslim Salikhov last year.

Bout 6: Albert Duraev (14-3) vs. Roman Kopylov (8-1) (Middleweight)

After a strong performance on “Dana White’s Contender Series,” Albert Duraev will get his UFC debut on Saturday against Roman Kopylov.

Duraev had a quick win on a “Contender Series” last month, stopping Caio Bittencourt with a neck crank submission. The fight was his first appearance since 2018.

Some have criticized the signing of Duraev due to a comment he made last year in support of the beheading of a teacher in France.

Kopylov is returning after an unsuccessful debut in 2019. He took his first pro loss in his first UFC bout, getting submitted by Karl Roberson.

Bout 7: Zubaira Tukhugov (19-5-1) vs. Ricardo Ramos (15-3) (Featherweight)

Featherweights Zubaira Tukhugov and Ricardo Ramos will meet on Saturday.

Ramos earned a win in his last fight, picking up a scorecard win over Bill Algeo in May.

On the other hand, Tukhugov took a loss last time around against Hakeem Dawodu. That fight was a little longer ago, happening at UFC 253 in September 2020.

Bout 8: Amanda Ribas (10-2) vs. Virna Jandiroba (17-2) (Strawweight)

The lengthy preliminary card will conclude with a strawweight fight between Amanda Ribas and Virna Jandiroba.

Ribas will be fighting to return to the win column. She was on a strong climb up the strawweight division heading into this year, attaining a strong five-fight winning streak. That momentum was stopped in January, as Marina Rodriguez finished her with strikes.

Now in what will likely be her final appearance of the year, Rodriguez has the chance to start another streak.

Jandiroba has attained three wins and two losses since joining the UFC roster in 2019. He earned a win in her last outing, defeating former Invicta FC Strawweight Champion Kanako Murata via doctor stoppage.

Main Card (2:00PM EDT / 10:00PM GST) (ESPN+ / PPV In Canada)

Bout 9: Magomed Ankalaev (15-1) vs. Volkan Oezdemir (17-5) (Light Heavyweight)

Rising light heavyweight Magomed Ankalaev will fight Volkan Oezdemir in the opening fight of the main card.

Ankalaev has a near-flawless UFC record thus far. While he lost his promotional debut in 2019, he has gone on to pick up six consecutive victories. This includes an appearance in February, where he defeated Nikita Krylov via unanimous decision.

Oezdemir has been out of the cage for over a year. His last appearance was in July 2020, getting stopped by former RIZIN Light Heavyweight Champion Jiri Prochazka.

Oezdemir has won just two of his last five fights, although all matchups have come against the top names at the 205-pound limit.

Bout 10: Li Jingliang (18-6) vs. Khamzat Chimaev (9-0) (Welterweight)

Returning for the first time after an apparent retirement, undefeated welterweight Khamzat Chimaev will take on Li Jingliang.

Chimaev was one of UFC’s biggest breakout stars last year. Joining the promotion in July 2020, Chimaev picked up three stoppage wins in a three-month period. His last appearance was in September 2020, where he stopped Gerald Meerschaert in 17 seconds.

Chimaev was booked for his first UFC main event against Leon Edwards in late 2020. Numerous iterations of his fight fell through, as Edwards and Chimaev both contracted COVID-19. Chimaev’s case was quite detrimental to him, as long-term effects plagued his ability to compete.

While not citing a reason, Chimaev announced his retirement from MMA in March. This decision has since been overturned, as his return is set for this card.

Li scored a stoppage win early this year, putting away Santiago Ponzinibbio within a round with strikes in January.

Bout 11: Alexander Volkov (33-9) vs. Marcin Tybura (22-6) (Heavyweight)

Veteran Alexander Volkov will look to end the recent momentum of Marcin Tybura on Saturday’s card.

Tybura has been on the UFC roster since 2016, although a streak of wins that started just last year has given him some attention. He has scored five straight wins since early 2020, with two of the victories coming via stoppage. His last win was in June, finishing Walt Harris within a round.

Volkov took a loss in his last fight, going five rounds against Ciryl Gane for a unanimous decision loss in June. He had two consecutive wins before then.

Bout 12: Islam Makhachev (20-1) vs. Dan Hooker (21-10) (Lightweight)

Islam Makhachev has been one of the names at lightweight that has been slowly rising through the ranks in recent years. That streak will either sink or swim Saturday when he faces Dan Hooker.

The depth of the lightweight division means it is harder for fighters to move up the ranks. While some divisions cause fighters to need five or six wins to get a title shot, at lightweight that is simply not enough.

Take for example Makhachev, who is currently on an eight-fight winning streak that first started in 2016. He is coming off his first UFC main event win, which saw him stop Thiago Moises in the fourth round with a rear naked choke. He is currently ranked fifth in the lightweight division, although a win Saturday over sixth-ranked Hooker could move him up more.

After losing to highly respected lightweights Dustin Poirier and Michael Chandler, Hooker turned things around last month with a decision win over Nasrat Haqparast. His appearance this weekend is a short-notice one, filling in for Rafael dos Anjos.

Bout 13: Petr Yan (15-2) vs. Cory Sandhagen (14-3) (Vacant Interim UFC Bantamweight Championship)

Saturday’s co-main event was originally set to see former UFC Bantamweight Champion Petr Yan face current titleholder Aljamain Sterling in a rematch. While Sterling had to withdraw from the card recently, UFC has kept a championship bout at bantamweight on the card.

UFC has introduced an interim belt for Saturday’s show, pairing Yan against fellow ranked bantamweight Cory Sandhagen.

Yan lost his bantamweight belt in March, as an illegal grounded knee in the fourth round of a fight caused him to get disqualified. This finish came after nearly 20 minutes of domination from Yan, which would have likely continued what had already been an undefeated UFC run through seven fights.

Sandhagen hasn’t been on as long of a winning streak, but he has been challenging some of the top names at bantamweight in recent years. He lost a split decision in his last fight, not being favored on scorecards against the returning TJ Dillashaw in July. Before then, Sandhagen had picked up an explosive knockout win over Marlon Moraes and Frankie Edgar over the past year.

Bout 14: Jan Blachowicz (28-8) vs. Glover Teixeira (32-7) (UFC Light Heavyweight Championship)

Jan Blachowicz will attempt to defend his UFC Light Heavyweight Championship for the second time when facing Glover Teixeira in the main event of Saturday’s show.

Blachowicz was given a title shot last year after scoring three wins between 2019 and 2020. With the UFC needing a new titleholder after former long-time champ Jon Jones relinquished his belt, Blachowicz was paired against Dominick Reyes in a battle for the vacant championship.

Blachowicz succeeded in that fight, putting away Reyes late in the second round with punches.

Blachowicz has defended his belt once since then, competing in March and becoming the first man to defeat UFC Middleweight Champion Israel Adesanya under MMA rules.

Teixeira will be challenging a champion for the second time in his UFC career. His last title fight dates all the way back to 2014, where he lost a unanimous decision to Jon Jones at UFC 172.

While Teixeira is 42, an age much older than most people who get a title fight, he has made himself unavoidable by building up a solid winning streak in recent years. After scoring three wins in 2019, two of which came by stoppage, Teixeira had an explosive 2020 that saw score a finish win in a main event fight against both Anthony Smith and Thiago Santos.

In his 21st UFC appearance, Teixeira has another chance to become champion.

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