Who should the UFC 267 losers on the main card fight next? At age 42, Glover Teixeira finally became a UFC champion, finishing Jan Blachowicz with a round-two submission. Here are my thoughts on what the future may hold for the six fighters who lost on the main card on Saturday.
In a fight that Magomed Ankalaev had complete control of, Volkan Oezdemir struggled to get anything going in his loss on Saturday. This loss marks two straight for Oezdemir and seemingly will take him out of the title picture. Still in the top ten, Oezdemir will likely play gatekeeper in his next fight.
One potential matchup for Oezdemir is Ion Cutelaba. Cutelaba, like Oezdemir, is an explosive striker who is currently ranked at #15 in the Light Heavyweight rankings. However, the fight that makes the most sense for Volkan is against Paul Craig. Craig has some of the best jiu-jitsu at 205, which was highlighted in his last fight against Jamahal Hill. In a striker v grappler matchup, Oezdemir and Craig would be fun to watch.
Li Jianliang is a BJJ black-belt and explosive striker who had been coming off a knockout win over Santiago Ponzinibbio. Khamzat Chimaev made him look like he belonged on the regional scene once again. Unfortunately for Jianliang, he learned the hard way that Chimaev is the real deal. However, he still belongs in the top 15 in his next fight but may have to play gatekeeper.
One potential matchup for Jianliang is Muslim Salikhov. Salikhov is 18-2 as a professional with one-punch power as he’s coming off of a win over Francisco Trinaldo in June. However, the matchup that makes the most sense for Jianling is Daniel Rodriguez. Rodriguez has been extremely active, going 3-0 in 2021 and recently earning his signature win in a comeback effort against Kevin Lee.
Unfortunately for Marcin Tybura, the narrative that he fails against the tougher competition will continue after his loss on Saturday. Tybura had his moments and arguably won round two against Alexander Volkov, but ultimately was outstruck en route to a unanimous decision loss. Coming into Saturday as the eighth-ranked Heavyweight, Tybura will need to work his way up into title contention once again.
One potential matchup for Tybura is Tom Aspinall. Aspinall is 4-0 in the UFC and one of the top Heavyweight prospects, recently knocking out Serghei Spivac in September. However, the fight that makes the most sense for Tybura is against Jairzinho Rozenstruik. Like Tybura, Rozenstruik has had highlight wins but failed against the toughest competition throughout his career. Tybura’s grappling credentials would likely make him the favorite against Bigi Boy, but that fight would be interesting to watch.
Respect to Dan Hooker for even taking this fight against Islam Makhachev, having competed at UFC 266. However, the Hangman could not hang with Makhachev on the ground as the Russian standout locked in a kimura mid-way through round one. Having been the sixth-ranked lightweight coming into Saturday, Hooker should still be in line for a top-ten opponent next.
With Michael Chandler and Justin Gaethje set to fight on Saturday at UFC 268, it could make sense for Hooker to fight the loser of that bout. However, the fight that makes the most sense for the Hangman and one that lots of fans want to see is against Rafael Dos Anjos. The former Lightweight champion, RDA, hasn’t competed in over a year as COVID, and injuries have prevented him from competing. Both are well-rounded fighters and could produce a fight-of-the-night contest.
In one of the year’s best fights, Petr Yan showed off his incredible striking, earning a unanimous decision win against Cory Sandhagen. Sandhagen is clearly still an elite 135er, but this loss now means he’s lost to each of three fighters ranked above him. Sandhagen definitely could earn himself another title shot, but he will have to work his way back up to the top.
With Jose Aldo and Rob Font set to fight in early December, Sandhagen’s options in the immediate future are a bit limited. Among bantamweights who Sandhagen has not already fought or already booked for a fight, Merab Dvalishvili is the name that makes the most sense. Dvalishvili earned an incredible comeback win against Marlon Moraes at UFC 266, which placed at number six in the 135-pound rankings. In a striker v wrestler matchup, Sandhagen and Merab would be a fun main event.
Now the former champion, Jan Blachowicz, got completely shut down by Glover Teixeira, who controlled the Polish fighter prior to locking a round two rear-naked choke. At age 38, Blachowicz could retire, but his post-fight interview seemed to imply he still wants to make it back to the top. Consider the nature of the loss, and with Jiri Prochazka waiting in the wings, Blachowicz will need at least one more win before getting another title shot.
Blachowicz will likely take time off after losing his belt, but when he does come back, a fight that makes sense for him is against Aleksander Rakic. Rakic has quietly made a run into title contention as he’s currently ranked third at 205. However, Rakic’s slow-paced win against Thiago Santos in March didn’t do him many favors with the matchmakers, and he still needs another win for a title shot. Matching Blachowicz up with Rakic would make a lot of sense for both parties.
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