UFC 267 in review

UFC 267, or by the end of this article, UFC “Russians dominate everything,” took place in Abu Dhabi this past weekend and was a card stacked full of talent and topped with two title fights for the interim bantamweight title and the light heavyweight title.

The card opened up with a light heavyweight bout between surging Russian fighter Magomed Ankalaev and former title contender and Swiss fighter Volkan Oezdemir. By the opening of this article, it’s clear that the Russian won. H vv    e got the better of Volkan at the end of three rounds, getting the decision victory with a masterful striking performance in the biggest win of his UFC career thus far. Unfortunately, it does not look good for former title contender Volkan as his losing streak has been extended to two, with his last victory being in 2019 by split decision. Next came even more Russian domination, this time in the welterweight division.

The second fight of the card saw the surging Russian, Khamzat Chimaev, go against Chinese-born Li Jingliang. The fight was the first in a year for Chimaev due to health concerns related to a COVID-19 diagnosis that pulled him from a card last year. The comeback fight was a quick re-entry into the conversation for future title contention as Khamzat dominated Jingliang for all 3 minutes and 16 seconds that the fight lasted. The Russian put on a dominating grappling performance using his wrestling background and massive frame that somehow cuts down to 170lbs to hamper any efforts by Jingliang. Khamzat ended the fight by picking up Li, dragging him towards UFC president Dana White and saying he would fight anybody. He then proceeded to strangle Li, extending his undefeated UFC record to 4-0. It’s a very scary sight to see a crazy bearded Russian man treat a ranked fighter like a baby while screaming at the company’s president. That fight would not be the last display of Russian dominance of the night.

The third fight of the card paired two fan favorite lightweight UFC fighters. New Zealander Dan Hooker was set to fight off against Islam Makhachev, the protégé of former undefeated lightweight champion, Khabib Nurmagomedov. Fans of Dan Hooker know that the man is an animal as evidenced by the wars he has had in the ring with the likes of current champion Dustin Poirier and Paul Felder, and many had hopes for the “Hangman” to put up the hardest fight for the surging Russian fighter. Makhachev, having only one loss on his UFC record, has put on dominant displays of grappling and striking across his fights and seems to be the second coming of the former champion Khabib, especially since the two are best friends and share similar origins, skillsets and beards. The fight was another one rounder as Makhachev was able to take down Hooker and submit him via kimura (arm-lock). Having now defeated a ranked lightweight, Makhachev seems set to be only a couple more wins from a possible title shot within the stacked lightweight division.

The co-main event was the last of the Russian domination, but only because the main event involved no Russian fighters. The interim bantamweight title was on the line as Petr Yan faced Colorado native Cory Sandhagen. The interim belt fight was made as the current champion Aljamain Sterling is recovering from a convenient neck surgery. The two arguably won their last fights against their top ranked opponents, with Petr Yan losing his title defense against Aljamain

Sterling due to the most “devastating” illegal knee that has ever been seen. Sandhagen fought TJ Dillashaw in his post-suspension-for-using-performance-enhancing-drugs comeback fight. Sandhagen lost by split decision, but left enough lasting damage on Dillashaw that he had to undergo knee surgery, taking TJ out of the title shot. It definitely shows who really won that fight. The two made for a dynamic striking matchup as both are very technical and talented fighters, with Sandhagen having a possible edge due to his Jiu-Jitsu prowess. The fight went all 5 rounds with Petr Yan starting slow, typical of him, and Sandhagen looking promising in the first couple rounds. But the technician that is Petr Yan started to find his rhythm and that of Sandhagen and proceeded to dismantle Sandhagen in the last few rounds of the fight, giving him the unanimous decision victory and the interim title to set him up for a rematch against Aljamain Sterling.

The main event was all that was left on the night, and held the light heavyweight title on the line. The fight between the Polish champion Jan Blachowicz and Brazilian fighter Glover Teixeira. Blachowicz, having won the title and defended it once within a year, was set to have his second title fight against a surging Teixeira who once challenged for the title against former dominant champion and world-renowned cheating dirtbag Jon Jones back in 2014. Now a spry 42-year-old, Teixeira earned his way back to a title fight after suffering his last loss in 2018 and fighting his way through the division with a 5 win-streak. The match up was set to be one of the more interesting ones of the night, as the grappling and boxing threat of Teixeira was to be tested against the elite striking ability of Blachowicz. The fight lasted two rounds, as Glover seemed dominant on the feet and then on the ground, and Blachowicz seemed unable to deal with pressure of Glover’s boxing and grappling ability. Teixeira found his way onto the champion’s back in the second round,promptly finished him via rear naked choke and earned himself the belt that had eluded him since 2014. The former champion made no excuses for his performance and promised to earn his way back to a title shot, while the new champion is likely set to face surging light heavyweight Jiri Prochazka or Aleksandar Rakic.