Updated:Oct 31, 2021
I’m disappointed in Jan Blachowicz. As I stated in last week’s review, I do not take sides during professional fights. I want to see great competition from elite athletes who are laying it all on the line to make a livelihood and support their families. However, if an athlete does not appear to give it their all, that is disappointing as a fan. Coming into tonight’s matchup, Blachowicz was the reigning UFC light heavyweight champion. He lost his belt to Glover Teixeira in what looked like an uninspired performance. That is not the way a champion is supposed to relinquish his title…
All in all, UFC 267 was a very entertaining event to watch. Without further ado, let’s get into it!
Blachowicz vs. Teixeira
Going into this fight, there was no way I thought Glover Teixeira could become an undisputed UFC champion at the age of 42 years old. However, his story is one of the most inspiring the sport has to offer; with a championship win in Abu Dhabi it is now good enough for a feel-good screenplay.Embed from Getty Images
Jan Blachowicz looked timid at the start of round one. He is currently known as one of the best strikers in the entire organization but he was bashful about making attempts early on. Glover Teixeira had a reputation as an elite striker early in his career. As he got older and his body changed, he adapted and became an elite grappler. After a lazy punch by Blachowicz, Teixeira capitalized and took his opponent to the mat. He dominated the rest of the round with his grappling skills.
Round two started off with more intensity than round one. Teixeira landed a big left hook, and Blachowicz countered with a nice combination of his own. Teixeira wisely maneuvered out of harm’s way after the punch landed and took his opponent to the mat again. He then forced Blachowicz into a chokehold and caused him to tap out. At the age of 42, Glover Teixeira has just become the undisputed light heavyweight champion of the world!Embed from Getty Images
My disappointment in Blachowicz has to be due to his inability to play to his strengths. If you know you’re an elite striker facing an elite grappler, why would you open yourself up to being taken to the mat? Also, Teixeira’s grasp did not appear to be completely under the neck on the chokehold. It appeared Blachowicz lost his fighting spirit and tapped out too soon. I could be wrong, but that’s how it looked. To make matters worse, Blachowicz joked that he’d partied too hard in his hotel room the night before the fight. As an athlete and a competitor, I sincerely hope that isn’t true. Chances to become a champion don’t come around very often; losing a title is serious business, not a laughing matter.Embed from Getty Images
Yan vs. Sandhagen
Peter Yan and Cory Sandhagen fought for the interim Bantamweight title, in what the majority of the sports world considers to be the real title fight in the division. The reasons why current champion, Aljamain Sterling, are discredited are too many to name here. That topic may have to become an op-ed some time in the not-so-distant future.
In round one, Sandhagen was very aggressive with both strikes and knees. Yan appeared to be prepared for Sandhagen’s barrage of strikes but was clearly caught off guard by the knees he was being hit with. In round two, Yan decided to become the aggressor. His increased activity seemed to subdue Sandhagen as he clearly hurt him on a number of occasions.
The most impressive moment of the fight came in round three. After an impressive striking combination, Yan displayed his versatility with a spinning back fist that knocked Sandhagen to the mat. Yan pounced on his opponent with an impressive ground and pound attack that swung the round decidedly in his favor. Rounds four and five were more of the same. A huge head kick by Yan in the fifth round served as the exclamation point to an emphatic performance. Yan was awarded a unanimous decision victory by the judges and walked away with the interim Bantamweight title for his efforts.
Makhachev vs. Hooker
Going into this fight Islam Makhachev and Dan Hooker looked to be prepared for a war. This was Makhachev’s first bout against a lightweight fighter ranked in the top ten in the division. He proved he was more than deserving of the opportunity.
As soon as the fight started, Makhachev hit his opponent with a right hook. He then took Hooker to the mat and proceeded to gain a dominant position through an elite display of grappling skills. After being forced into an armbar, Hooker had no choice but to tap out; a few more seconds and his arm surely would have been broken. During the post-fight interview, Makhachev declared that he is ready for a title shot. It’s hard to argue with that.
Volkov vs. Tybura
Whenever two heavyweights climb into the octagon, there’s an increased possibility that the fight will end in a knockout. This is one of the reasons heavyweight bouts usually draw large audiences. The crowd anticipates a spectacular ending to a violent affair.
Alexander Volkov and Marcin Tybura did not provide this type of entertainment for the fans in Abu Dhabi tonight. It appeared both camps agreed to remain cautious and avoid the embarrassment of a mistake that could provide a knockout opening for their opponent. The Tybura camp enjoyed a large Polish presence in the audience, who cheered loudly for their fighter and made their presence known.
Round one was very uneventful, as both men tried and failed on a multitude of strikes. Near the end of the round, Volkov scored a huge takedown, which affectively handed him the round. Tybura tried to return the favor several times in round two but Volkov’s defense proved to be elite; he refused to go down to the mat. In round three, Volkov finally mixed it up and landed a few good striking combinations. The judges rightly acknowledged that he was the more active of the two fighters and awarded Volkov a unanimous decision victory.
Jinliang vs. Chimaev
Li Jinliang decided that being the aggressor was the best way to start the fight. Khamzat Chimaev had other plans. After Jinliang started round one with a wild swing and miss, Chimaev caught him in a bear hug. He then lifted his opponent in the air while shouting a profanity-laced hello to UFC CEO Dana White, who was sitting ringside. After slamming Jinliang to the mat, he put him in a chokehold and forced him to tap out. No one can accuse Chimaev of lacking flair or bravado, that’s for sure.
Ankalaev vs. Oezdemir
After out-striking his opponent in round one, Magomed Ankalaev opened up a cut over Volkan Oezdemir’s left eye with a straight right punch in round two. In round three, Oezdemir increased his activity, knowing he was down two rounds to none and in need of a stoppage to win the fight. However, Ankalaev was able to survive the round and was ultimately awarded a unanimous decision victory by the judges.
In sports, the ultimate goal is to win the competition. However, there are times when both parties perform admirably enough to gain the respect and appreciation of the audience. Yan versus Sandhagen was a perfect example of this. I loved the way Sandhagen handled himself in defeat. He congratulated his opponent and stated that he himself will continue to improve as a fighter. What’s more, Sandhagen did not cheat the fans with his preparation or his performance. Tonight belonged to Petr Yan, and rightfully so, but Cory Sandhagen can leave the arena with his head held high; he was a true professional in every sense of the word.
UFC 268 takes place next Saturday at the legendary arena, Madison Square Garden, in New York City. The main event is a rematch between reigning welterweight champion Kamaru Usman and challenger Colby Covington. The fight is available on pay-per-view via BT Sport in the United Kingdom and ESPN Plus in the United States. As always, we’ll have all the latest updates about the outcomes of the fights as well as in-depth analysis available right here at World In Sport!