Preview: UFC 267 ‘Blachowicz vs. Teixeira’

Blachowicz vs. Teixeira

By Tom Feely Oct 29, 2021

Sign up for ESPN+ right here, and you can then stream UFC 267 live on your smart TV, computer, phone, tablet or streaming device via the ESPN app.

The Ultimate Fighting Championship breaks out of its October doldrums in a major way with UFC 267 on Saturday at Etihad Arena in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. After some relatively low-wattage shows from the UFC Apex, the promotion ends the month with a stacked numbered event that does not even require an additional pay-per-view cost. Two title bouts lead the way, as unlikely light heavyweight champion Jan Blachowicz defends his strap against Glover Teixeira in the headliner and Petr Yan takes on Cory Sandhagen in the co-feature in what figures to be a war for the interim bantamweight crown. Beyond that, the Russian contingent comes out in full force, from the potential steps up the ladder for Islam Makhachev and Magomed Ankalaev to the long-awaited return of 2020 breakout prospect Khamzat Chimaev. This is a strong card, one made even stronger by the comparison to the previous four weeks.

Now to the UFC 267 “Blachowicz vs. Teixeira” preview:

UFC Light Heavyweight Championship

C | Jan Blachowicz (28-8, 11-5 UFC) vs. #1 LHW | Glover Teixeira (32-7, 15-5 UFC)

ODDS: Blachowicz (-290), Teixeira (+245)

It is a testament to Blachowicz that his status as UFC light heavyweight champion no longer feels like a surprise. After a successful career in his native Poland, Blachowicz announced himself on the UFC stage with a sub-two-minute knockout of Ilir Latifi in his promotional debut, seemingly setting the stage for more significant opportunities. From there, his situation quickly went south. He lost a disappointing decision to Jimi Manuwa on the UFC’s first card in Poland and spent most of the next two years showing just enough to keep his spot on the roster. From a technical standpoint, it was hard to pick out any issues from Blachowicz—he had his moments even in his losses—but a worrying trend cropped up in which he would suddenly exhaust his gas tank. No matter how strong the start, Blachowicz would give up those gains and then some in the later stretches of his fights. Blachowicz seemingly saved his job with a 2017 win over Devin Clark, and from there, it was surprisingly off to the races, as Blachowicz’s issues suddenly resolved themselves. A discovery of his jab, particularly on display with a victory over Jared Cannonier, apparently led Blachowicz to a more mentally confident and consistent approach, which meant everything clicked in turn. Whether it was keeping most of his opponents at bay on the feet or showing off a sneaky strong wrestling game, Blachowicz has had little issues with opponents since, save for a 2019 knockout loss to Thiago Santos. Since the Santos defeat, Blachowicz has done a much better job of continuing to fight within himself, which has made him a difficult puzzle for opponents to crack. If he does not take out opponents like Corey Anderson and Dominick Reyes with his legendary Polish power, he is now more than content to rely on his weapons and coast out a win without jeopardizing himself in the process. It has been an unlikely rise that no longer feels like a fluke or a reflection of a weak division. Blachowicz is now a legitimate champion-level fighter. After turning back a challenge from middleweight kingpin Israel Adesanya, Blachowicz gets his first title defense against a full-time light heavyweight, taking on a surprising top contender in Teixeira.

Sign up for ESPN+ right here, and you can then stream UFC 267 live on your smart TV, computer, phone, tablet or streaming device via the ESPN app.

When Teixeira first made it to the UFC in 2012, it seemed inevitable that he would quickly challenge then-champion Jon Jones. Teixeira was already considered a top light heavyweight, with visa issues stranding him in Brazil and delaying his signing with the promotion. Indeed, it took five fights in about a year and a half before Teixeira was Jones’ top contender, having shown off both knockout power and some solid submission skills. Teixeira wound up dropping a one-sided decision to Jones in 2014, and after a subsequent loss to Phil Davis, it felt like the Brazilian’s championship window had closed a bit, given that the long wait to get into the UFC meant that he was now in his mid-30s. Amazingly, Teixeira has essentially refused to age out of the division. Teixeira went on a bit of a run after the Davis loss, but he eventually hit a clear plateau just short of contender status, with a 2017 loss to Alexander Gustafsson sticking out as an instance of his looking slow and getting teed off on by a younger talent. After a 2018 loss to Anderson, Teixeira is now riding a five-fight winning streak. However, he has had to navigate some rough waters nearly every step of the way, as it has become Teixeira’s winning template to eat damage early, only to eventually ugly up the fight enough to get things to the mat and find a finish. Teixeira’s 2020 campaign was especially brutal, as he put an extended beatdown on Anthony Smith that eventually cost “Lionheart” a few teeth before the Brazilian’s most recent fight, a win over Santos, saw him absorb some hellish offense from his countryman. Two days after his 42nd birthday, Teixeira has a chance for a title reign that might be just as unlikely as the current champion’s.

It would be an amazing story if Teixeira pulled this off, and this is a heavy enough division that anything could happen, but the challenger is facing a clear uphill battle here. Teixeira has been able to outlast his recent opponents, but they have all been fighters prone to fading in one way or another, whether it was Santos and Ion Cutelaba’s willingness to hunt for a knockout or Smith’s rollercoaster of confidence throughout his fights. This version of Blachowicz, frankly, just is not that guy. As mentioned, this ascent for Blachowicz has come in part due to the Pole’s willingness to stay within himself and take advantage of what is presented to him; and Teixeira should present a lot of openings. Blachowicz is not quite as fast-handed as some of the opponents that have stung Teixeira the most, but he has been able to channel plenty of power into his punches in recent years—and more importantly, he is a stout light heavyweight who should be able to keep this fight standing. Teixeira might manage to ugly this up, but there is such a huge risk of being hit hard as he closes the distance that Blachowicz should always be ahead on the scorecards; and the champion is both the more durable fighter and the more powerful knockout threat. The result does not really feel in question—unless one spectacular moment of Teixeira offense proves much more effective than expected—so the only obvious drama comes from how much damage the challenger can absorb and how much Blachowicz is willing to press the pace for a finish. This could turn into an extended beating, but the pick is Blachowicz via second-round knockout.

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