UFC 267
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UFC 267 Aftermath: Playing Matchmaker For Main Card Fighters

UFC 267 took place from Fight Island in Abu Dhabi this past weekend and the event was free for ESPN+ subscribers, which was a shock to some because this card was absolutely stacked. The main card along with the prelims even was littered with great fights and they did not disappoint. Fighters established themselves as contenders, we saw a former champion regain the (interim) throne and a fan favorite finally saw his dreams come true. With that being said, the UFC machine is always moving, so I decided to lend a hand and help out the UFC brass and will play matchmaker for the entire main card.

Magomed Ankalaev (W) vs. Volkan Oedzemir (Light Heavyweight)

For Volkan Oedzemir, it has been a rough last two fights. This most recent outing against Magomed Ankalaev saw him get dominated for 15 mins in which was never really in question. The fight before, he was brutally knocked out by Jiri Prochazka that saw Prochazka build a lot of hype around him. I think Oedzemir should take a little time before he gets back in there, and it shouldn’t be something too big. I think a fight with Paulo Costa would be a lot of fun with two guys riding losing streaks looking to go out and prove they can still hang.

Magomed Ankalaev is a bonafide star. There is no denying that this man is destined to do huge things in the Light Heavyweight division. His striking was crisp, showed good grappling, and was able to tear through Oedzemir’s defenses. The UFC can either shoot him to the moon and book him against someone like Anthony Smith or even Prochazka, or let him get more experience in the octagon against someone like Thiago Santos. Personally, you book him against Smith and try and build two major contenders in a division that could use the help in that department.

Khamzat Chimaev (W) vs. Li Jingliang (Welterweight)

Let’s be honest here… Li Jingliang was never going to win this fight. He was outclassed in every aspect of the fight game and the outcome was not surprising. For Jingliang, someone floating around the top 15 is probably the move. Daniel Rodriguez is a guy that is flying up the rankings and could use journeymen wins on his resume. Then again, Dana White should be strapping a rocket to that kid, so maybe not. If Robbie Lawler wants a fight, that could be a lot of fun.

Now we get to the good stuff here. Khamzat Chimaev is a killer, no doubt about it and he showed it at UFC 267. Booking his next fight is incredibly intriguing because on the one hand booking him in a fight with Nate Diaz would be ELECTRIC and guaranteed to sell out any event it could headline or bolster a PPV. But if you are Chimaev, you are in a primed position to take on the winner of Kamaru Usman Colby Covington II. Those are the only two options in my eyes. You could do Chimaev x Vicente Luque as somewhat of a number one contenders fight, but that also seems lopsided.

Alexander Volkov (W) vs. Marcin Tybura (Heavyweight)

I hate to say that this fight was another one that was easy to pick, but it should have been clear that Marcin Tybura was at a definite disadvantage going into Saturday Night. The decision loss to Volkov halts a 5-fight win streak, so it would be wise to give him a guy that will push him again to see if he is a proven contender in the Heavyweight division. Sergey Spivak is a guy that also had a winning streak snapped that was looking to prove himself, this one makes sense. Andrei Arlovski is another guy who is looking to make a career resurgence and that would be bound to produce fireworks.

Alexander Volkov has a few options, but I know THE fight to make here: Tom Aspinall. I have been on record as being a huge Aspinall guy, and what better way for a rising prospect to prove himself than taking on a guy like Volkov who seems to almost be a gatekeeper in the division. Plus, stylistically this fight makes a ton of sense as well seeing that both men love to use their range and use great boxing. Plus, the European flair this fight would bring especially on a potential UK fight card? Easy money.

Islam Makhachev (W) vs. Dan Hooker (Lightweight)

Everyone loves Dan Hooker, and rightfully so. Taking a fight on short notice a month after beating Narsat Haqparast takes balls and Saturday proved Hooker has a big ol’ set of them. While he may have been finished in the first round, Hooker should be viewed as a serious guy at 155lbs and any fight is a pretty big deal. Personally, I would love to see Hooker take a little time off to go through New Zealand’s strenuous COVID policies on quarantining and spending time with his family. Once he comes back, though, Hooker against someone like Tony Ferguson would be sensational. Ferguson or Drew Dober would be a fight for two guys to get back on track after a rough last few fights for both men.

A lot of people see Islam Makhachev as the next guy in line. He called it himself in his post-fight interview that he wants next, and honestly, I can see it. But I just need to see one more fight out of him. He needs one more prove himself fight to get him to where he wants to be, so the clear option is the winner of Justin Gaethje and Michael Chandler. This fight would be a number one contender’s fight 100% and I would announce it like that as well so there is even more hype around it. I will say, though, if they decide to go the title route I wouldn’t hate it.

Petr Yan (W) vs. Cory Sandhagen (Interim UFC Bantamweight Championship)

I think we can all agree that Pery Yan and Cory Sandhagen put on a fight of the year candidate this past weekend at UFC 267. If you happened to have missed this fight, stop what you’re doing and find the highlights on YouTube. With that being said, I also think we can all agree that Cory Sandhagen is likely a future Bantamweight Champion. This guy has all the tools it takes, but his time is not quite yet. If you want to push him and see what he is made of, Merab Dvalishvili is that guy. Merab is on a 7-fight win streak and just needs one more name on his resume to really stand out and make that name for himself. Plus, this would be another absolute banger of a fight.

Petr Yan has reclaimed, sort of, the top spot at 135lbs. He was infamously DQed in his fight with Aljamain Sterling for throwing an illegal knee to a downed opponent. One can argue that you just run that back but honestly, Yan was clearly winning that fight before the DQ and we don’t know when Sterling will be healthy coming off neck surgery. The only two options are the winner of Rob Font/Jose Aldo, or you just book Yan against T.J. Dillashaw. I wrote before that I believed he was next in line before he went out with knee surgery, and I think that time is now to book it.

Glover Teixeira (W) vs. Jan Blachowicz (UFC Light Heavyweight Championship)

Man, my predictions for UFC 267 were 5/5 before this fight. But I will happily go 5/6 to see Glover Teixeira finally win UFC gold. Anyways.

Jan Blachowicz was a strong favorite going into this fight, and the fight never seemed to go his way. Blachowicz just didn’t seem to get out of the starting gate and Teixeira made him pay for it. At 38, one might think that his time may be coming to an end in the near future, but Glover proved that might not be the case. I think that as of right now there isn’t an entirely clear next up in line so I would run it back. There was so much mutual respect between these fighters leading into the fight, plus both men are fan favorites so I don’t think fight fans would be opposed to this fight.

I know that I said that I would run it back, but if you are Glover Teixeira, you can make the argument you went and finished the champion in 2 rounds so why would you? So, to go off of what I wrote earlier, I would do Jiri Prochazka and Magomed Ankalaev and the winner of that fight has next. I know I wrote before to avoid that, but if you want a clear-cut next guy up that is the way to go. I would not do that personally, but to play devil’s advocate from the Blachowicz booking we have to find someone else.

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