Welcome to The Weekly Takedown, Sports Illustrated’s newest look at MMA. Every week, this column will offer insight and information on the most noteworthy stories in the fight world.
Jan Blachowicz: “This is all about me and my belt”
Jan Blachowicz headlines Saturday’s UFC 267 card, defending his light heavyweight title in the main event against Glover Teixeira.
Blachowicz (28–8) is on the most successful stretch in his career. He has won five in a row, as well as nine of his last 10, including a dominating showing in March against Israel Adesanya. He now turns his attention to Teixeira (32–7), who has also rattled off five in a row.
“I believe that, every time I fight, I need to prove to myself that I am the best in the world,” says Blachowicz, 38. “I did that against Adesanya, and I need to be stronger and better this time. When you beat someone like Israel, you need to be better the next time. And I’m stronger than ever.”
The 42-year-old Teixeira is an opponent with a long history of success in the Octagon, but all signs point to a convincing win for Blachowicz.
“This is all about me and my belt,” Blachowicz says. “I have nothing but respect for him, and he is a great fighter, but this belt is staying with me.”
The light heavyweight division received some extra recognition when Adesanya moved up to fight Blachowicz, but it has been missing its distinguished presence without the great—yet always controversial—Jon Jones. Blachowicz expressed his fierce desire for a fight against Jones.
“He needs to fix his private life, but when he is ready, that is the fight I want,” Blachowicz says. “Make it at heavyweight. I will do it. I’m thinking now about Glover, but later, that is the fight I want.”
Beyond his desire to be the best in the world, Blachowicz noted that he needs no extra motivation to defeat Teixeira. He is currently seventh in UFC’s pound-for-pound rankings, and a dominant victory could help him jump a spot or two.
“I like fighting and I want to be the best in the world, No. 1,” Blachowicz says. “When I stop, I want to stop with the belt in my hands. This is my life. I love this, and I want to be the best.”
Conor McGregor found the perfect opponent in Tony Ferguson
Tony Ferguson no longer belongs in the top five of UFC lightweights. Yet he is still ranked seventh, making him a prime opponent for someone seeking a commanding win.
Enter Conor McGregor.
McGregor needs an impressive victory before getting another title shot, whether that be against Charles Oliveira or Dustin Poirier. And there is no better option for him in the top-10 rankings than Ferguson, who dropped his last three fights to Justin Gaethje, Oliveira and Beneil Dariush, and he is simply no longer the dominant fighter he once was.
McGregor doesn’t dominate at lightweight the way he did in the featherweight division, but Ferguson is an opponent that he will outwalk and outperform in the cage. This is the perfect fight for McGregor, but he will not be the only one to benefit.
For Ferguson, this would be a well-deserved payday on his way out of UFC prominence. A fight against McGregor would be a main event that draws a significant buy rate and one more chance in the spotlight for “The Boogeyman.”
The Pick ’Em Section
Here are my picks for this weekend’s fights:
UFC light heavyweight title bout: Jan Blachowicz vs. Glover Teixeira
Pick: Jan Blachowicz
Interim bantamweight title bout: Petr Yan vs. Cory Sandhagen
Pick: Petr Yan
Lightweight bout: Islam Makhachev vs. Dan Hooker
Pick: Dan Hooker
Heavyweight bout: Alexander Volkov vs. Marcin Tybura
Pick: Alexander Volkov
Welterweight bout: Li Jingliang vs. Khamzat Chimaev
Pick: Li Jingliang
Light heavyweight bout: Magomed Ankalaev vs. Volkan Oezdemir
Pick: Magomed Ankalaev
Last week: 5–2
Current record: 38–21
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