Thursday, December 9, 2021

UFC 267 fight card, odds: Things to know about each bout on the main card from Abu Dhabi

On Saturday, the UFC will take the unusual step of holding a “numbered event” on ESPN+ rather than as a pay-per-view event. Despite not being on pay-per-view, UFC 267 is still loaded with big names and a pair of title fights.

Jan Blachowicz will make the second defense of his light heavyweight championship against 41-year-old Glover Teixeira in the main event, who enters the bout on a fight-fight winning streak. The co-main event is a battle for the interim bantamweight championship between former bantamweight champion Petr Yan and contender Cory Sandhagen.

In addition to the title fights, many other big names and rising stars are on the card, including Dan Hooker, Khamzat Chimaev and Islam Makhachev.

Clearly, it’s easy to get lost in the minutiae of a big event. So we’re here to help give you a concise outlook of what to expect and what to know for every main card fight. Let’s take a closer look at what to expect on Saturday.

Odds via Caesars Sportsbook

Main card

Magomed Ankalaev vs. Volkan Oezdemir, light heavyweight

  • Odds: Ankalaev -310, Oezdemir +250 | Last three results: Ankalaev  – W,W,W | Oezdemir – L,W,W
  • Ankalaev: Undefeated with four knockouts in six wins since September 2018
  • Oezdemir: Former world title challenger on a 2-4 downswing in his six most recent fights

After beginning his career with nine consecutive victories, Ankalaev (15-1) suffered a loss by triangle choke against Paul Craig in his Octagon debut. Since that setback, Ankalaev has gone on a tear with six wins in a row, four of which have come via TKO. After controversy over a fast stoppage in a 38-second win over Ion Cutelaba in February 2020, the pair rematched that October, with Ankalaev removing all doubt over the result with another first-round knockout. He followed up on that win in February, scoring a decision win over Nikita Krylov in the biggest win of his career. For Oezdemir (17-5), the fight represents a chance to try to get his career back on a winning track. A five-fight winning streak landed Oezdemir in the cage with Daniel Cormier for a shot at the UFC light heavyweight title in January 2018. Cormier won the fight via second-round TKO in what was the first of three consecutive losses for Oezdemir. After picking up wins over Ilir Latifi and Aleksandar Rakic, Oezdemir’s winning streak was snapped in July 2020 when he was brutally knocked out by Jiri Prochazka.

Li Jingliang vs. Khamzat Chimaev, welterweight

  • Odds: Chimaev -575, Jingliang +425 | Last three results: Chimaev  – W,W,W | Jingliang – W,L,W
  • Chimaev: An elite-level prospect coming off a long, brutal battle with COVID-19
  • Jingliang: Tough as nails with six performance bonuses in his eight most recent fights

Chimaev (9-0) made huge waves after debuting in the UFC with two wins in 10 days in July 2020. In those two wins, Chimaev held a combined advantage in strikes landed of 192-2. He followed those wins up with a 17-second knockout of Gerald Meerschaert in September 2020. Chimaev was then scheduled for a huge fight with Leon Edwards but was forced to withdraw after contracting COVID-19, struggling with the virus for months including several hospitalizations and even briefly announcing that he would never fight again. Chimaev is now set to face the toughest task of his career in Jingliang (18-6), a 14-fight UFC veteran. Jingliang has come into his own since 2016, going on an 8-2 run in his 10 most recent fights. In that time, he has won six performance bonuses as his action-friendly style and incredible toughness has made for some thrilling fights. He’ll hope that toughness leads to a much tougher fight than anyone has been able to give Chimaev in his young UFC career.

Alexander Volkov vs. Marcin Tybura, heavyweight

  • Odds: Volkov -300, Tybura +240 | Last three results: Volkov  – L,W,W | Tybura – W,W,W
  • Volkov: A heavyweight gatekeeper in the most positive sense of the word
  • Tybura: Snapped a 1-4 skid to go on a current five-fight winning streak

Volkov (33-9) is a former Bellator heavyweight champion who made his UFC debut in November 2016. Since that debut, the 6-foot-7 Volkov has gone 7-3, including wins over big names such as Fabricio Werdum, Walt Harris and Alistair Overeem. His only Octagon losses have come against Derrick Lewis, Curtis Blaydes and Ciryl Gane, three men who rank in the top five of the UFC heavyweight rankings. Tybura (22-6) began his UFC career with a 4-5 record in his first nine fights. He has since found his footing, going on a five-fight winning streak that includes two knockouts in his two most recent fights. After picking up big wins over Greg Hardy and Walt Harris, Tybura was set to face Volkov, who serves as one of the best measuring sticks in the heavyweight division.

Islam Makhachev vs. Dan Hooker, lightweight

  • Odds: Makhachev -700, Hooker +500 | Last three results: Makhachev – W,W,W | Hooker – W,L,L
  • Makhachev: A dominant Dagestani fighter on track for a title shot
  • Hooker: A gritty brawler who has been in with some of the best lightweights in the world

Makhachev (20-1) enters UFC 267 riding an eight-fight winning streak. That streak began after suffering a TKO loss to Adriano Martins at UFC 192 in October 2015. He is a dominant grappler who has scored 27 takedowns in 10 UFC fights. That grinding style has served Makhachev well throughout his career and has neutralized some very good fighters, including Drew Dober and Thiago Moises in his two most recent fights. Hooker (21-10) is fighting for the second time in one month. In September, he snapped a two-fight losing skid with an unanimous decision win over Nasrat Haqparast. Those two losses came against elite lightweights, however, in Dustin Poirier and Michael Chandler. The Poirier fight was an exceptional example of how tough Hooker is, going punch-for-punch with the best lightweight on the planet.

Petr Yan vs. Cory Sandhagen, interim bantamweight title

  • Odds: Yan -240, Sandhagen +200 | Last three results: Yan – L,W,W | Sandhagen – L,W,W
  • Yan: Coming off a disqualification loss in his first defense of the bantamweight championship
  • Sandhagen: An explosive fighter who suffered a close split decision loss in his most recent outing

Yan (15-2) tore through the UFC bantamweight division after his debut in June 2018, eventually ending up in a fight with Jose Aldo for the then-vacant bantamweight title. Despite a spirited effort from Aldo, Yan managed to score a TKO in the fifth round of their July 2020 clash. Yan’s first title defense came against Aljamain Sterling this past March. He had largely dominated Sterling before throwing a blatantly illegal knee as Sterling was grounded, leading to a disqualification that gave Sterling the title. Yan was set to rematch Sterling for the belt when Sterling was forced out of the bout and Sandhagen stepped in with the interim belt on the line. Sandhagen (14-3) is also coming off a loss in his most recent bout, setting up the unusual situation of a championship bout between two men coming off a loss. Sandhagen’s loss came in a split decision against former champion TJ Dillashaw, who was coming back from a suspension after a failed drug test cost him the title. Sandhagen was thought by many to have deserved the decision over Dillashaw, which would have ran Sandhagen’s winning streak to three after highlight-reel knockouts of Marlon Moraes and Frankie Edgar. Sandhagen’s only other UFC loss came against Sterling when he was quickly overwhelmed for a rear-naked choke loss in less than 90 seconds.

Jan Blachowicz (c) vs. Glover Teixeira, light heavyweight title

  • Odds: Blachowicz -280, Teixeira +230 | Last three results: Blachowicz – W,W,W | Teixeira – W,W,W
  • Blachowicz: The new light heavyweight king who has filled the void left by Jon Jones
  • Teixeira: A 41-year-old whose unlikely run has given him a second shot to become champion

Blachowicz (28-8) started his UFC career with a 2-4 run. Despite that rough start, Blachowicz continued battling and has since gone 9-1 in his past 10 fights. That run put Blachowicz in position to fight for the vacant light heavyweight championship after Jon Jones vacated the title to pursue a move to heavyweight. Blachowicz knocked out Dominick Reyes in a dominant performance to become the new light heavyweight champion. His first title defense came against middleweight champion Israel Adesanya, who attempted to move up in weight to become a two-division champion. Blachowicz fought a disciplined fight to retain the title and further establish himself as the top man at 205 pounds.

Teixeira (32-7) is closing in on two decades as a professional fighter. Now 41 years old, he is getting an unlikely second shot at the UFC light heavyweight title. His first opportunity came in April 2014 when he lost an unanimous decision against Jones. He has fought almost every top name at 205 pounds during his time in the UFC, only losing consecutive fights once in his career. Teixeira has gone on an unlikely five-fight winning streak to end up back in a fight for the championship, most recently beating two former title challengers in Anthony Smith and Thiago Santos.

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