UFC 267 breakdown: Can Glover Teixeira avoid champ Jan Blachowicz’s ‘Polish power’?

·6 min read

MMA Junkie analyst Dan Tom breaks down the UFC’s top bouts. Today, we look at the main event for UFC 267.

UFC 267 takes place Saturday at Etihad Arena in Abu Dhabi. The card streams on ESPN+.

Jan Blachowicz (28-8 MMA, 11-5 UFC)

Jan Blachowicz

Staple info:

  • Height: 6’2″ Age: 38 Weight: 205 lbs. Reach: 78″

  • Last fight: Decision win over Israel Adesanya (March 6, 2021)

  • Camp: WCA Fight Team (Poland)

  • Stance/striking style: Orthodox/muay Thai

  • Risk management: Good

Supplemental info:

+ UFC light heavyweight champion
+ KSW light heavyweight title
+ Muay Thai accolades (amatuer)
+ Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt
+ 8 knockout victories
+ 9 submission wins
+ 7 first-round finishes
+ Knockout power
+ Excellent jab
+ Dangerous uppercuts and hooks
+ Will switch stances
^ Favors liver kicks from southpaw
+ Strikes well off the breaks
+ Improved wrestling ability
^ Defensively and offensively
+ Solid transitional grappler

Glover Teixeira (32-7 MMA, 15-5 UFC)

Staple info:

  • Height: 6’2″ Age: 38 Weight: 205 lbs. Reach: 78″

  • Last fight: Submission win over Thiago Santos (Nov. 7, 2020)

  • Camp: Teixeira MMA/Glover’s Garage (Danbury, CT)

  • Stance/striking style: Orthodox/kickboxing

  • Risk management: Good

Supplemental info:

+ Regional MMA titles
+ Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt
+ 18 KO victories
+ 9 submission wins
+ 19 first-round finishes
+ KO power
+ Solid boxing technique
^ Accurate right cross and left hook
+ Good economy of movement
^ Rarely throws self out of position
+ Underrated wrestling ability
^ Works well from single-leg
+ Improved getup urgency
^ Underhooks, deep-half reversals, etc.
+ Excellent transitional grappler

Point of interest: Lookout for the left

Referee Herb Dean pulls back Jan Blachowicz (red gloves) as Luke Rockhold (blue gloves) lays on the mat at T-Mobile Arena. (Stephen R. Sylvanie, USA TODAY Sports)

The main event on Yas Island features a light heavyweight title fight between two competitors who prefer to punctuate exchanges with their left hands.

Stepping onto the UFC scene as a pressuring stalker who can come forward in combination from either stance, [autotag]Jan Blachowicz[/autotag] has steadily developed into a deceptively effective counter striker that doesn’t mind drawing his opposition into his wheelhouse.

In the heat of combat, the Pole packs a mean uppercut-hook return that he keeps on a hair-trigger, something he was able to show against both Jared Cannonier and Jimi Manuwa. Blachowicz also employs a stiff and serviceable jab that he quietly uses to string together his offense, as well as help support his defense.

As far as kicking goes, Blachowicz loves to sprinkle in crushing liver kicks off of shifts to the southpaw stance and doesn’t have any problems letting head kicks fly off the break. And though I suspect that Blachowicz’s hooks and uppercuts will be live off of said breaks, he’ll still need to mind how long he plants his feet in front of a guy like [autotag]Glover Teixeira[/autotag].

A more traditional stalker, Teixeira will steadily come forward as he looks to ply pressure, pushing his opponent back and forcing them to answer any time he can. Often starting with a lead right hand, the 42-year-old Brazilian will bait his opposition into exchanging with him, all while keeping his cleanup-hitting left hook at the ready.

Although Teixeira will seldom throw himself out of position, leading from your power side is a tactic that is more heavily reliant on speed, something that tends to go with age. So, with that in mind, I will be curious to see if the Brazilian vet looks to lean more on his jab and under-utilized kicks when looking to close space in this contest.

Point of interest: Clinch country

Glover Teixeira (R) fights Anthony Smith (L) in their light heavyweight bout during UFC Fight Night at VyStar Veterans Memorial Arena on May 13, 2020 in Jacksonville, Florida. (Photo by Douglas P. DeFelice/Getty Images)

With wrestling steadily becoming a larger part of the picture for both men after suffering some tough losses earlier in their careers, I will be curious to see who is able to win out the early tie-ups and exchanges.

Since amassing his recent return of momentum, Blachowicz has reestablished his full-time training camp in Warsaw, a place where the Pole has been able to shore up the holes that were haunting him in the wrestling department.

Now, Blachowicz appears much more competent and comfortable when changing levels to counter aggression or when setting up and chaining takedowns of his own. More importantly, Blachowicz’s improvements have also translated defensively, demonstrating solid defensive fundamentals when fending off offensive grapplers like Devin Clark, Luke Rockhold or Ronaldo Souza.

However, despite winning those contests, the Polish contender spent a lot of time with his back against the fence in those fights – something that could be more costly given his current counterpart.

Wrestling since he was a youngster in Brazil, Teixeira has always possessed underrated skills in this department, effortlessly chaining off from his favored home base of the single-leg position. Teixeira also displays solid layers of defensive grappling, either by stuffing initial shots or smartly re-wrestling his way back to his feet when taken down.

Even after being repeatedly rocked and dropped by Alexander Gustafsson and others, the Brazilian was still able to immediately attack off his back and initiate intelligent scrambles that allowed him to get back into the fight. If Teixeira is able to gound or reverse the current champion, then Blachowicz will need to be on his best behavior – even if the challenger is hurt.

Glover Teixeira coming back from the dead: https://twitter.com/DanTomMMA/status/1367294627909226497?s=20

Thankfully for Blachowicz, he is a proven Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt who not only is proficient in transition and from top position, but also is deceptively capable and flexible from the bottom when having to go for submissions or scramble opportunities. That said, the Polish fighter will still need to be extra mindful anytime he exposes his back off of a submission attempt or scramble against Teixeira.

As we’ve seen in many of Teixeira’s fights before, the Brazilian can close the show if you turtle out or expose your back in transit. A fluent pressure passer and positional rider, Teixeira is a master chef when it comes to cooking his opposition underneath him.

Methodically (and brutally) using ground strikes, Teixeira adds fuel to the fire as he force-feeds his opponents into head-and-arm chokes if they turn into him, or rear-naked chokes if they turn away. Blachowicz may be able to survive the initial stanzas, but the grappling definitely will make the champ’s gas tank worth watching down the stretch.

Point of interest: Odds and opinions

The oddsmakers and public are currently siding with the sitting champ, listing Blachowicz -300 and Teixeira +225 via Tipico.

Although this line is a bit wide for my liking, I don’t disagree with who is favored. Despite being a big fan and supporter of Teixeira on this recent run, I have a hard time backing him here.

Not only has Blachowicz shored up his past holes of defensive wrestling (only giving up one takedown in almost five years), but he also carries a potent shot selection of uppercuts and counters that I see having serious play on the challenger and his aging chin.

Nevertheless, if Blachowicz fails in finishing his Brazilian counterpart and is forced to grapple for prolonged periods of time, then do not be surprised to see Teixeira mount yet another comeback win through pure determination and the discipline of sticking to a plan.

As a big fan of one of the best sportsmen to ever step into the octagon, I would love to see Teixeira add some deserved gold to his mantel this Saturday. But as an unbiased analyst, the official pick is for Blachowicz to retain his title via a knockout come the second round.

Prediction: Blachowicz inside the distance

1

1