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Fight Island is once again open for business, and Saturday’s UFC 267 card in the United Arab Emirates is loaded with international talent. In addition to having two titles on the line, several potential future contenders will compete on the main card, where a strong performance will lock them into the public’s awareness and help secure future title shots.
Heavyweights: Alexander Volkov (-260) vs. Marcin Tybura (+ 250)
When Russia’s Volkov faces Poland’s Tybura, the Russian will have a strong technical advantage while at a distance. Volkov is the division’s most accurate distance power striker, inheriting that mantle from his last opponent, the recently released Alistair Overeem. Volkov can mount a diverse striking attack while maintaining constant pressure that stifles his opposition. While winning the exchanges, Volkov is likely to pile on volume against Tybura, who often allows his opponents to dictate pace.
Tybura is more likely to want to go to the ground, but there’s no guarantee he can get the match there, and Volkov is no stranger to opponents who want to change levels. Tybura’s recent success in striking came against much lower-quality opponents. Should he succumb to overconfidence and try to test himself with Volkov, it likely won’t end well for the Polish fighter.
Moneyline play on Volkov or use him in parlays. Prop on Volkov by TKO at + 160.
Bantamweights: Petr Yan (-230) vs. Cory Sandhagen (+ 190), co-main event
Yan has a chance to regain a belt while awaiting his rematch with Aljamain Sterling. The matchup with Sandhagen is vastly different in that Yan doesn’t have to worry about much of a ground threat like he would against Sterling. The numbers confirm that Sandhagen is an excellent long-range striker, but Yan has proven himself against the best and is arguably the harder hitter.
These two will most certainly stand and trade for extended periods, and the back-and-forth could lead to close rounds. But Yan has a way of elevating his game whenever opponents try to build momentum, and he should be landing the harder strikes against Sandhagen’s long jab. And if he wants to, Yan also can fall back on better grappling metrics.
Moneyline play on Yan.
Light-heavyweights: Jan Blachowicz (-300) vs. Glover Teixeira (+ 240), main event
The two oldest ranked fighters in the light-heavyweight division face off with what will likely be opposing stylistic strengths — Teixeira’s submission game vs. the power of Blachowicz. It offers a lot of finishing potential, but how the fight plays out is highly uncertain.
If Teixeira can close distance and use his clinch game and wrestling to stifle Blachowicz early, he could survive long enough to find an opening for submissions. But if that doesn’t happen, it’s a matter of time before the power hand of Blachowicz finds Teixeira’s 42-year-old chin. Overall, we’re expecting Blachowicz to retain his title, but at current prices we’re seeing it closer than the market, so it’s dog or pass.
Small stab at Teixeira for the upset, but only well above + 200. Fight Does Not Go the Distance.