This Saturday, UFC 267 features 11 champions and two belts on the line, with none bigger than the main event — Glover Texeira challenging light heavyweight belt holder Jan Blachowicz.
In a case of two incredible late-career surges, Blachowicz, 38, will defend the light heavyweight division’s ultimate prize against Teixeira, 41. Despite their ages, the pair have proved they are two of the best light heavyweights in MMA today.
Blachowicz captured the title in 2020 with a surprising win over Dominick Reyes and, given his late evolution from journeyman to contender, many wondered whether this would be a short-lived reign. A unanimous March decision over reigning middleweight champion Israel Adesanya went a long way in suggesting the Polish slugger might be around to defend his title for awhile. Though Blachowicz opened as a 3-1 favorite against Teixeira, this is the kind of matchup that will test his well-rounded game. And a win against Teixeira would be a huge plus on his resume.
While Blachowicz only recently discovered his “Legendary Polish Power,” his experience also makes him a more polished and versatile striker than Teixeira due to extensive experience on the Polish Muay Thai scene between 2006 and 2008. In 2021, he’s also markedly faster than the older Teixeira, who can appear like he’s fighting underwater.
Teixeira is still undeniably dangerous, however, packing enough of a wallop to shut the lights out on Blachowicz. He’s also armed with a new fight approach that’s led to a current winning streak. Some seven years removed from his first UFC title shot against Jon Jones, Teixeira is an unexpected rising threat to Blachowicz across the board.
After the Brazilian lost three fights over a five-bout stretch, it seemed Teixeira’s best days were behind him. Instead, Teixeira, like so many sporting veterans nowadays, found a new way to compete through hard work and evolution. By focusing on ground game fundamentals, Teixeira began to use grappling much more as a weapon. A five-fight win streak ensued, with four ending by stoppage (and three submissions). To go with this exceptional ground game, Teixeira’s heavy hands also remain very dangerous. Teixeira was the last man standing in slugfests against Anthony Smith and Thiago Santos in his two most recent bouts, winning through wile and wisdom, staying patient until the moment demanded violence. Blachowicz acknowledged that he has to keep composed during the pre-fight press conference.
“A lot of fighters make mistakes,” Blachowicz said. “When they hit him hard, they try to finish him too fast. He catch(es) them because he has a lot of experience, and he knows how to use it. I am ready for that. I will show how I’m going to defeat him on Saturday.”
A victory over Teixeira would have Blachowicz on his way to carving out a legacy as a long-time light heavyweight champion. And Teixiera would be a huge name on his resume. On the other side, the challenger Teixeira has a shot at cementing his UFC name by knocking off a champion and taking his belt.
We’ll find out which is the better man for the moment in Abu Dhabi on Saturday.
*Events kicking off in the Middle East makes for an unusual start time. Fights will begin at 10:30 a.m. Eastern time, with the Blachowicz and Texeira to touch gloves at 2 p.m. UFC 267 will also mark a rare free pay-per-view fight fans, available in its entirety on ESPN+. With UFC 268 set for next Saturday, Nov. 6 at Madison Square Garden in New York City, UFC didn’t want to charge for a similar card this Oct. 30. All a fan needs is an ESPN+ subscription to stream the loaded marquee.