Two featherweights with unbeaten records are slated to step into the Octagon at UFC 270 on Jan. 22, per an initial report from Red Fury MMA. The card is to take place in Anaheim, California, and is likely the first pay-per-view event of 2022. As usual, Farah Hannoun over at MMA Junkie confirmed the bout with two people with knowledge of the fight.
Whose “0” is First to Go? Breaking Down the Matchup
Ilia Topuria (11-0-0 3-0-0 UFC) is making the walk for his fourth UFC fight and has been on fire for longer than that, having never dropped a fight in his professional career. He has finished three of his last four fights, and his last fight culminated in an impressive first-round knockout of hyped prospect Ryan Hall, and his other two UFC wins came against solid fighters in Damon Jackson and Youssef Zalal. Topuria is a monster on the ground, tallying seven submission wins in his career, but his last few fights have shown his ability to be fearsome on the feet.
His opponent number 13-ranked Movsar Evloev (15-0-0 5-0-0 UFC) is the former M-1 bantamweight champion who has won five straight since his move up to 145 pounds. Evloev has been just as dominant in his UFC run, but he has yet to notch a finish in the UFC, winning all five of his fights by decision. He stepped into the Octagon with names such as Mike Grundy, Nik Lentz, and Hakeem Dawodou, getting his hand raised every time. Evloev is a great grappler as well, having won four of his fights by rear-naked choke.
This fight, while not a ranked one, should be a fight-of-the-night caliber bout, being that both of these men are undefeated; having dominated their competition in their quest for a UFC title. Both men are skilled on the ground, which could result in a grappling-heavy bout that sees the final bell. To have an edge grappling, Evloev will need to be very careful: preventing Topuria’s transitions off takedowns would stop the Spaniard from getting one of his submissions, especially the guillotine or anaconda choke. Evloev however, is a wrestler by trade, so his shots need to be carefully timed off of combinations or he risks being put to sleep.
Topuria, however, could control the fight wherever he wishes, if his last few fights are to be believed. He must be careful though, as Evloev has an extremely powerful high kick. Topuria must stay active to avoid getting caught with a single strike, and his eagerness to submit Evolev should not encourage him to keep his hands down. If the fight stays on the feet, Toupria could possess an advantage, so long as it stays away from the cage. Topuria is sharp with his hands, and this would allow him to throw freely without the threat of Evolev’s wrestling.
Evloev could potentially manipulate space using the fence, and this could force Topuria into a dirty-boxing situation. Topuria has guillotines and anaconda chokes at his disposal, but he does not want to be controlled for all fifteen minutes in pursuit of a submission. Smothering cage pressure from Evloev, however, might cause this to happen. In short, Topuria can be in two places and hope to win the fight: guard and transition or on the feet. Either man must win those little battles if they have any hope of walking away victorious.
UFC 267: The Full Card
Here is the rest of the stacked UFC 267 card:
- Francis Ngannou vs. Ciryl Gane – heavyweight title bout
- Brandon Moreno vs. Deiveson Figueiredo – flyweight title bout
- Derek Brunson vs. Jared Cannonier- middleweight bout
- Greg Hardy vs. Aleksi Oleinik- heavyweight bout
- Wellington Turman vs. Rodolfo Vieira- middleweight bout
- AJ Dobson vs. Jacob Malkoun- middleweight bout
- Poliana Botelho vs. Ji Yeon Kim- women’s flyweight bout
- Said Nurmagomedov vs. Cody Stamann- bantamweight bout
- Trevin Giles vs. Michael Morales- welterweight bout
- Matt Frevola vs. Genaro Valdez- lightweight bout
- Tony Gravely vs. Saimon Oliveira- bantamweight bout
- Warlley Alves vs. Jack Della Maddalena- welterweight bout
- Movsar Evloev vs. Ilia Topuria- featherweight bout
How do you think this fight goes? Let us know in the comments!
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