The UFC are finally back with another PPV. It’s felt like forever since UFC 266 and just like 266 we have another exciting card. Let’s get started!
Magomed Ankalaev vs Volkan Oezdemir – Light Heavyweight Division
This is a really good fight to begin the card at 205lbs. Ankalaev is good wherever the fight goes, he has the sambo style wrestling that suffocates opponents and he’s pretty good with his hands as well. Oezdemir is a brilliant striker who has the ability to knockout Ankalaev, which in turn is his only avenue to win this fight in my opinion. I believe that the Russian will dominate this fight by shooting for an early takedown and controlling Oezdemir on the ground for the majority of each round. I’m going with an Ankalaev TKO via ground and pound.
Prediction: Magomed Ankalaev by TKO in round 2
Li Jingliang vs Khamzat Chimaev – Welterweight Division
Khamzat is back after a year out and he’s instantly been given the toughest test of his career so far. Starting off with the Russian-born Swede, who comes into this fight at 9-0 in his MMA career so far. He’s extremely similar to Khabib Nurmagomedov as he’ll instantly look for a takedown and essentially maul his opponents with a ground and pound causing a finish or a ground and pound leading into a submission. However, he’s not only a wrestler. He also has a good standup game, as in his last fight he knocked out Gerald Meerschaert in 17 seconds with one straight right. Li is a brilliant striker and his constant pressure could cause serious problems for Khamzat if he can’t get the takedown. Yet, I think Li will have to change his style going into this fight. If he piles the pressure onto Khamzat, he’s more susceptible to a takedown, meaning although he’s the smaller fighter, Li will have to fight from the outside and try and out-point Khamzat. Nevertheless, I think the talented Swede continues his dominance and will eventually move up to fight for the title in the next two years.
Prediction: Khamzat Chimaev by TKO in round 1
Alexander Volkov vs Marcin Tybura – Heavyweight Division
Volkov comes into this bout off a loss to Interim Champion, Ciryl Gane and in that fight he got outclassed on the feet. The Frenchman was too fast, too light on his feet and showed his striking to be superior through 5 rounds. Against Tybura, it’s the complete opposite. The Russian should have the advantage on the feet but he has to defend the takedown. Tybura is an excellent grappler with the jiu-jitsu to compliment. Whoever is able to succeed at their game wins this fight. Volkov does have decent takedown defence, only struggling to stop Curtis Blaydes, who is by far the best wrestler in the division. Tybura’s power isn’t to be undermined as well, finishing Walt Harris and Greg Hardy in his last two fights. This one is tough to call, I think I’m going to side with the Russian in this fight.
Alexander Volkov by decision
Islam Makhachev vs Dan Hooker – Lightweight Division
Before I get started on the breakdown, credit to Hooker for taking this fight on relatively short notice, because this is the one man everyone in the lightweight division has been avoiding. Islam is essentially Khabib 2.0. In all honesty, I could copy and paste the part about Khamzat’s wrestling and place it here. Islam is looking to maul his opponent. The man he’s facing, Dan Hooker, has the best takedown defence in the division which adds an interesting element into this fight. If there’s one way Hooker wins this fight, it’s by catching Islam with a knee when he goes for a takedown. We’ve seen him do it before and I think it’s the only chance he has to stop this monster to be honest. I’ve got to go with Islam in this fight.
Prediction: Islam Makhachev by submission in round 2
Petr Yan vs Cory Sandhagen – Interim Bantamweight Championship
Yan comes into this fight off his ‘loss’ to Aljamain Sterling in their title fight and he’ll be looking for redemption against Sandhagen before gaining a rematch. Primarily a Muay Thai fighter, Yan is also a brilliant boxer but he’ll have his work cut out against Sandhagen who is also a masterful technician on the feet. I expect Cory to try and pick apart Yan from the outside with his height and reach advantages. I wouldn’t be surprised to see Yan shoot for a takedown. We saw against Aljo that Cory’s ground game isn’t at a high standard. I think this another win for Petr but it will be hard fought between these two.
Prediction: Petr Yan by decision
Jan Blachowicz (c) vs Glover Teixeira – Light Heavyweight Championship
The champion is simply looking to knockout Glover with his legendary “Polish Power.” He’s a brilliant striker and if he needs to he can rely on a strong wrestling background, which we saw him use against Israel Adesanya at UFC 259 earlier this year. Another thing for Glover to worry about is Jan’s body kicks, which setup his win over Dom Reyes last year and also got him a win against Paul Latifi in his UFC debut. The veteran Glover is one of the best jiu-jitsu practitioners on the planet and he’ll be looking to take Jan down and more likely than not grab his neck and choke him out. Although Glover has decent striking, I think Jan is levels ahead in that department of the fight. I think Jan takes this one and he goes onto to fight Jiri next year.
Jan Blachowicz by TKO in round 3