FightWatch- UFC 267
Didn't get to watch this one live because it emanated from Fight Island in Abu Dhabi at a ridiculous time. Something like 2am for the prelims, and 5am for the main card. I love my fights, but not that much. Also, pretty shitty that this was a "free PPV" in the US, but Aussies had to pay for it. Also also pretty shitty, Bruce Buffer got COVID this past week. So Joe Martinez is on the call. Nothing makes something feel like a B show quite like the presence of Martinez. The only thing I like about Martinez is the fact that he apparently tried to spruce up his name a bit, with his graphic reading "Joe A. Martinez", but Jon Anik and crew refuse to drop the "A" in there when referring to him. It's the little things.
Martinez aside though, UFC 267 definitely isn't a B show. Two title fights, headlined by Mr. Polish Power himself, Jan Blachowicz, defending his Light Heavyweight Championship against 42 year old Glover Teixeira. The co-main sees an Interim Bantamweight Championship bout between Petr Yan & Cory Sandhagen, after paper champ Aljamain Sterling took his ball and went home. At least, that's how the general chatter goes. I'm not quite on board with the Aljo hate. Yan broke the rules and paid the price. We're all aware that the UFC has rules in place, but we're going to get mad at a fighter for taking advantage of it?
Some tasty stuff on the undercard as well, as the UFC phenom of 2020, Khamzat Chimaev makes his long awaited return against the ever-tough Li Jingliang, and mad bastard Dan Hooker steps up to try and stop the rise of Islam Makhachev in the loaded lightweight division.
Anyway, we're all over the place here. Let's get to the action on Fight Island.
Fight 1: (125) Tagir Ulanbekov def. Allan Nascimento via split decision (28-29, 29-28 X2)
Thoughts: Interesting tactical battle here. It started with the commentators noting the size of both men, being large for flyweights, and that was evident in the early striking exchanges, with both men landing with heavier strikes than we're used to seeing at 125. However, that soon gave way to a ground battle for the majority of the fight. Nascimento constantly threw up submission, with a few looking quite close, and that was enough to give him the win on one judge's scorecard. However, it was over 10 minutes of top ground control from Ulanbekov which saw him get his hand raised.
Fight 2: (185) Andre Petroski def. Hu Yaozong via submission (arm triangle choke) at 4:46 of R3
Thoughts: This was a lot of fun. Somehow blended a wild brawl with a technical showcase. Petroski is great on the ground and unrefined on the feet. He almost finished the fight with a mounted guillotine early in the first- this also happened in the last fight- and Yaozong was able to gut his way out of it. Volko apparently showed fighters that you can escape that move through sheer willpower. On the feet, Petroski landed massive bombs that Yaozong somehow took. In the second, Petroski almost got the finish with an arm triangle, and went back to it late in the third to maintain a 100% finishing rate in the UFC.
Fight 3: (145) Lerone Murphy def. Makwan Amirkhani via KO (knee) at 0:14 of R2
Thoughts: This was crazy, a true example of how quickly fortunes can change in MMA. Amirkhani dominated the first round with a double leg, right into side control, and stayed on top in some capacity for the first five minutes. Then in the opening seconds of R2, Amirkhani shoots again and Murphy knocks him out cold with a counter knee! Amazing.
Fight 4: (205) Michal Oleksiejczuk def. Shamil Gamzatov via TKO (punches) at 3:31 of R1
Thoughts: Both men threw sharp, powerful punches for the duration of this fight, but Gamzatov was missing more than he was hitting. An accurate uppercut right up the middle got the finish for Oleksiejczuk. Gamzatov takes his first career loss in emphatic fashion.
Fight 5: (170) Elizeu Zaleski dos Santos def. Benoit St. Denis via unanimous decision (29-26 X3)
Thoughts: St. Denis showed a ton of heart in his UFC debut, and dos Santos displayed his skills in adding to his UFC resume. The narrative of this fight will be focused on the piss-poor job the referee did, but we need to give respect to the efforts given by the fighters as well. The fight should have been stopped, the point deduction was bullshit, but both men fought their asses off. Hopefully Benoit St. Denis is okay and gets a second shot in the UFC.
Fight 6: (185) Albert Duraev def. Roman Kopylov via UD (30-27, 29-27 X 2)
Thoughts: Started in a kind of unassuming way, with both men trading strikes in the first intermittently without any big moments. Then R2 saw Duraev maul Kopylov in the mount and almost get the sub with a RNC, but Kopylov made it to the horn. Kopylov showed better takedown defence and had a few moments in the last round, but still no doubt that it was Duraev's night. Got more exciting and dramatic as time went on.
Fight 7: (145) Zubaira Tukhugov def. Ricardo Ramos via UD (29-28 X3)
Thoughts: Tukhugov made his money with his hands in this one. Setting a personal best in the UFC for significant strikes, he scored and rocked Ramos with hooks and overhands for the 15 minute duration. Ramos was game and landed his fair share too, marking up Zubaira's face, but the volume and power was the difference here.
Fight 8: (W-115) Amanda Ribas def. Virna Jandiroba via UD (29-28 X3)
Thoughts: After a tricky first round where Jandiroba landed some hard punches, Ribas shut it down with a "tee-pee" triangle choke. Didn't get the submission, but it was a cool visual and halted the attack. From there it was all about the striking and forward pressure of Ribas, mostly with the hands, but she did land a head kick late in R3 that really staggered Jandiroba. A strong win that cements Ribas as a top 10 player in the strawweight division.
Fight 1: (205) Magomed Ankalaev def. Volkan Oezdemir via UD (30-27 X2, 29-28)
Thoughts: Ankalaev just kept constant pressure through this one, dropping Volkan early and continuing the striking attack while mixing in takedown attempts to keep him on the back foot. He also landed a brutal right hook which split Oezdemir's eyebrow in a gruesome way. Shows how legit Ankalaev is when you consider Oezdemir's penchant for finishing fights within the first minute as he rose through the light heavyweight ranks.
Fight 2: (170) Khamzat Chimaev def. Li Jingliang via submission (rear naked choke) at 3:16 of R1
Thoughts: Jon Anik said it perfectly- the hype is real. Jingliang was ranked #11. He did not land a single strike. The only reason the fight lasted as long as it did is because of Jingliang's defensive abilities, because Khamzat immediately grabbed him, threw him to the ground and was looking for the choke. Eventually, Chimaev put the Leech to sleep. The fight ended at 3:16 of the first round, so I guess we can say Khamzat 3:16 says I just whooped your ass?
Fight 3: (265) Alexander Volkov def. Marcin Tybura via UD (30-27 X2, 29-28)
Thoughts: Volkov really put it all together in his one. Used his height and reach to his advantage, frequently landing on Tybura and avoiding the return offering. He pieced Volkov up with jabs in the first, the second saw Tybura press forward and have a little more success, but nothing major, and Volkov got more aggressive down the stretch to really seal the win. Also, of note, at least 14 takedowns stopped by Volkov. Excellent performance.
Fight 4: Islam Makhachev def. Dan Hooker via submission (kimura) at 2:25 of R1
Thoughts: This is where pro wrestling and MMA differ. It would have been a great story for Dan Hooker, who went through hell just to leave New Zealand and get to the States for his last fight, only to quickly turn around and face a killer like Makhachev... would have been amazing to see the underdog prevail here. But unfortunately, this is real life, and MMA doesn't give a shit about your storylines. Islam took Hooker down with ease and wasted little time in locking in the kimura.
Fight 5: Interim UFC Bantamweight Championship- Petr Yan def. Cory Sandhagen via UD (49-46 X3)
Thoughts: Fantastic, high level fight! Sandhagen looked great early, with elite footwork and calculated striking. In the second, Yan started making reads and adjusting. Primarily a stand up fight, but also had a few little scrambles that demonstrated both men's ability as well-rounded mixed martial artists. Perhaps the biggest moment of the fight was when Yan threw a combo that included a charging spinning back fist, dropping Sandhagen. They had great cardio too, with a very active 5th round that saw Yan unleash a spinning hook kick which Sandhagen ate and immediately responded with a flying knee. Deservedly won FOTN.
Main Event: UFC Light Heavyweight Championship- Glover Teixeira def. Jan Blachowicz via submission (rear naked choke) at 3:02 of R2
Thoughts: What a feel-good moment. 42 years old. Teixeira is now the second oldest champion in UFC history (the first being Randy Couture). His 40th MMA fight. He should have been in the UFC years earlier, but apparently had some visa issues that delayed him. Glover had a perfect first round, scoring an early takedown and keeping Blachowicz down essentially the entire round. In the second frame, Jan had a couple of good moments on the feet- until a massive left hook from the challenger staggered him. Shortly after, Teixeira got the mount and the choke... AND NEWWWW. Great stuff!
Until next time, take care.
By Mick Robson