Wednesday, December 1, 2021

UFC 267: Three Under-The-Radar Fights

The UFC is headed back to Abu Dhabi, and the stacked UFC 267 event has left some fight gems unearthed.

This weekend all eyes are on Fight Island. The UFC will double down on title fights as interim bantamweight gold will be fought for when Petr Yan and Cory Sandhagen meet under the bright lights. Spoiled with riches in an exclusive presentation, the main event pits Brazil’s Glover Teixeira, who is adamant that he will not be denied his final title opportunity against Jan Błachowicz.

Three fights, in particular, stand out at UFC 267 that might be flying under the radar. With a pair of title bouts and the return of the surging Khamzat Chimaev, there is plenty to get excited about. The 9-0 viral sensation looks to re-cement his status as one of the scariest prospects at 170-pounds. The Chechnya native will face a tough out when his showdown with China’s Jingliang Li comes full circle.

As the month of October draws to a close, a cold front of violence awaits. Let’s take a closer look at three contests buried on this epic night of fights.

Amanda Ribas vs. Virna Jandiroba

A strawweight battle between Amanda Ribas and Virna Jandiroba will produce a contender among a busy stable of fighters at 115-pounds. The pair of strawweight athletes made their way into the UFC in 2019 but started careers off in different manners.

“Carcará” was tasked with a difficult debut. Jandiroba faced inaugural former champion Carla Esparza but came up short in a unanimous decision defeat. Within a year of losing her UFC debut, Jandiroba met adversity head-on and picked up her first two victories with the promotion.

As a former Invicta champion, Jandiroba made a career with her submission skills. Interestingly, the 33-year-old first started combat when she was a child practicing kung fu. Nevertheless, it was her affinity for grappling sequences that set her name ablaze in the combat sports community.

Amanda Ribas will meet Jandiroba in a 115-pound contest on Saturday. Despite the recent setback against Marina Rodriguez, Amanda Ribas has shown toughness and a tactical tenacity when she fights in the Octagon. A tale of two different debuts, Ribas made waves with her first performance in the UFC. The strawweight debutante finished Emily Whitmire with a rear-naked choke in round two.

Granted, Amanda Ribas is a well-rounded strawweight, it will take a committed effort in the standup department to uproot Jandiroba from her game. Since Jandiroba is more than willing to take the fight to the canvas, one of Ribas’ notable strengths will be nullified once the two touch gloves.

Magomed Ankalaev vs. Volkan Oezdemir

A hard-hitting light heavyweight match-up will illuminate a clear path for whoever should emerge with a victory. Oezdemir, having lost his last bout to Jiří Procházka, will need a statement win if he intends to put himself back on the hunt for gold.

Volkan Oezdemir fighting Jiří Procházka

Ankalaev seeks his seventh consecutive win after going scorched earth following his dramatic defeat to Paul Craig in 2018. Both light heavyweights are notable strikers with power produced even in their glancing shots. With such a long-standing winning streak, Ankalaev will risk it all when he faces a former title challenger at UFC 267. Though, ahead of the contest, Oezdemir is adamant that it will be Ankalaev looking to avoid the action.

With the frantic nature of his last fight against Procházka, many believe we have yet to see the best “No Time” has to offer. In 2017, Oezdemir earned his moniker after finishing Misha Cirkunov and Jimi Manuwa in under thirty seconds. The Switzerland native has the chance to become the second fighter in history to defeat Ankalaev when they share the cage on Saturday night.

Alexander Volkov vs. Marcin Tybura

Alexander Volkov Marcin Tybura
(via Zuffa LLC)

Marcin Tybura has amassed a quiet but revealing winning streak. Having won his last five bouts, the heavyweight has blasted through some legitimate contenders as of late. In fact, Tybura picked up four of his most recent victories in 2020. After scoring back-to-back decision victories against Maxim Grishin and Ben Rothwell, it seemed the 35-year-old was beginning to find his footing at 265-pounds.

Following his ground-and-pound victory against Greg Hardy, the division and fans alike took notice of the heavyweight’s stellar performance. Putting an exclamation point on his claim for a title contender, Tybura polished off Walt Harris in a single round. Once again, it was the heavyweight’s patented ground-and-pound that got the job done.

However, Tybura will have a challenging night when he meets Alexander Volkov at UFC 267. As a former Bellator and M-1 heavyweight champion, “Drago” will put those former accolades on the line informally when he squares up with Tybura this weekend. Despite Volkov losing his last fight, the defeat came at the hands of Ciryl Gane, and the bout showcased a tactical chess match.

While Volkov was unable to effectively land on Gane, he went the distance with the interim heavyweight champion. As a decorated kickboxer with excellent takedown defense, Volkov will be Tybura’s most puzzling UFC test to date. Alexander Volkov’s striking is difficult to prepare for, and with length and reach not often seen in the UFC, Tybura will need to be defensively sound to avoid fight-ending damage.

What fight at UFC 267 is going under the radar for you?

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