Glover Teixeira scored one for the old guys at UFC 267, winning the UFC light heavyweight championship at age 42 and becoming the second oldest fighter to capture a belt in the promotion. Petr Yan defeated Cory Sandhagen in an interim bantamweight title fight. What’s next for Sandhangen, former 205lb champ Jan Blachowicz, and others who fell short Saturday? Let’s gaze into our matchmaking crystal ball.
Old man strength beat Polish power. Well, 42 isn’t that old, just ask the likes of Randy Couture or Dan Severn. Still, when it comes to competing at a high level, Glover Teixeira is no spring chicken. Neither is Jan Blachowicz at age 38. Stating immediately after his loss that he plans to take another run at the belt, the Polish fighter will have to hurry. As a former champion, however, there are a lot of potential opponents. Magomed Ankalaev, who also fought (and won) on the UFC 267 card, is one option. Jiri Prochazka is another, but he may very well be next in line for the belt. So let’s go another direction. Anthony Smith has won three straight, and is a former title challenger. He fought last month, and doesn’t have anything booked. A win puts Smith real close to another shot at gold, for Blachowicz, a victory over the high-profile Smith also looks good.
Blachowicz’s next fight: Anthony Smith
It’s back-to-back losses for Cory Sandhagen now, despite the fact that he was in a title fight on Saturday. A strong performance from the American helped fans forget that he really wasn’t deserving of that shot, coming off a loss and all. A definitive one at that. But we can’t pick and choose: if you’re coming off a loss, you really shouldn’t be fighting for the belt.
Again, though, strong performance. Sandhagen found a lot of success in the opening rounds, before Yan took over with his boxing. So he should still get a high profile fight next. A fun one would be Dominick Cruz. Preferably over five rounds. Cruz has to handle things against Pedro Munhoz at UFC 269 first. If Munhoz wins, that’s not a bad pairing either.
Sandhagen’s next fight: Pedro Munhoz
Dan “The Hangman” Hooker is as game as they come, but there are few lightweights in the world who can deal with Islam Makhachev right now. What’s next for Hooker, who is now 1-3 in his last four? Honestly, if he wanted to make the cut to lightweight, Nate Diaz would be a bonkers fight, but that’s probably not happening.
Rafael dos Anjos was supposed to fight Makhachev at UFC 267, but was forced out due to injury. If he’s healed up in time, pit the ex-champ against New Zealand’s “Hangman.” It rewards Hooker for stepping up on short notice, and it’s not a bad match-up for RDA either.
Hooker’s next fight: Rafael dos Anjos
And just like that, Marcin Tyrbura’s impressive fight-fight win streak is over. It shouldn’t be too much of a setback for the Polish heavyweight, but he simply didn’t have the game plan for Alexander Volkov. Tybura attempted to rely on takedowns, but couldn’t get the bigger man off his feet.
Augusto Sakai will fight Tai Tuivasa later this month. Tybura was knocked out by Sakai a couple of years back; he’s never faced Tuivasa. Given him the winner of that fight. If it’s Sakai, we get to see how far Tybura has come. If it’s Tuivasa, well, his fights are generally pretty entertaining, and there might be a shoey involved.
Tybura’s next fight: Winner of Augusto Sakai vs. Tai Tuivasa
“The Leech” Li Jingliang is a very good welterweight who was made to look average, if not below-average, against Khamzat Chimaev. Chimaev picked him up the way a scolding mother might scoop up a misbehaving child, stopped for a moment to chit-chat Dana White — while still having Jingliang suspended in the air — then slammed him to the mat.
It was one of the most surreal scenes in recent UFC history. Probably more surreal for Jingliang, who had to experience it first-hand.
Jingliang is a bonus-winning machine (he has six since 2017) who was coming off a knockout win against Santiago Ponzinibbio. The loss to Chimaev is less an indictment of him, and more a statement of how good Khamzat is. So for Jingliang, you may as well pretend the fight didn’t happen, and give him another solid match-up. Daniel Rodriguez is ranked in the top 15 and coming off a win over Kevin Lee. That could be a fun fight.
Jingliang’s next opponent: Daniel Rodriguez
“No Time” may have had his time in the UFC. After storming out of the gate with a three-fight win streak that earned him a title shot against then-champ Daniel Cormier, Volkan Oezdemir has posted a 2-5 record inside the octagon. And while his overall UFC record is 5-5, that’s still just .500 — not where you want to see someone who once fought for a title.
Oezdemir is likely to drop a few spots in the rankings this week (he entered UFC 267 at #8). Ryan Spann is ranked #12 at the moment, and is coming off a loss to Anthony Smith in September. That feels like the play to make.
Oezdemir’s next fight: Ryan Spann