All the pressure falls on Peter Yan, Islam Makhachev and Khameev Shemayev at UFC 267 - convincing victories should be on the agenda

All the pressure falls on Peter Yan, Islam Makhachev and Khameev Shemayev at UFC 267 – convincing victories should be on the agenda

The fate of an MMA fighter entering the competition as a big favourite is not necessarily enviable. Vulgar analysis may point to complacency as the greatest danger when the expectation based on apparent ability is victory, when reality is more accurate than that.

Winning mode is also important in these situations – Peter Yan, Islam Makhachev and Khazam Shemayev face opponents whose motivations have been renewed without the slightest need for words from their teams ahead of Saturday’s game at Fight Island.

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Confident fans will need to invest a lot to secure a big comeback for the trio if they make it into the octagon, as these are their slim chances on Saturday. That’s despite the fact that Chemayev is back in action for the first time since the Covid ordeal that nearly kicked him out of the sport, with an expected disbandment by bookmakers Li Jingliang, a fighter whose career spanned the Ultimate Fighting Championship. Six years longer than her age.

Chemayev was full of threatening words before returning after more than 13 months of absence. Hugely popular on social media, he’s a fan of clips and might make the kind of quick conclusion he produced when he needed a full 17 seconds to tackle workbench Gerald Merchart in his last fight.

However, Lee watched the weight intently and was never ruled out. UFC President Dana White rushed to Chimayev to obtain a US visa for his meeting with Merchart in apparent guise of his controversial belief that the Chechen-born star could soon hold the title, and the possibility of a concussion reminded reporters that his previous swift victories came against him. Opponents with respectable records.

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Li has a tantalizing chance of becoming the first name to give Shimaev a major contest, not to mention defeating him. If he doesn’t come out right away, expect it to be a reflection of the tactical experience he’s amassed – and the prolonged cancellation will only add to the fears of Shimayev’s vast fan base. Think about quitting smoking.

Whether there’s something really readable about the weight saga in which Chimaev struggled to the limit is debatable, but it’s certainly reason to be wary of one of the more experienced names he could have. He confronted him in his fight back, and someone smiled at a press conference while vowing to let his fist speak.

Islam Makhachev is described as Khabib Nurmagomedov’s successor, making every fight he participates in a defining moment for his future.

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Dan Hooker, who will be fighting in Abu Dhabi, has a great deal of respect for Makhachev and doesn’t seem particularly bothered about facing a man described as capable of keeping up with Nurmagomedov as the lightweight champion.

Only a third consecutive submission is likely to satisfy Makhachev’s critics, and Hooker was annoyed by his statement that the New Zealander is primarily driven by money, regardless of the outcome.

Makhachev was undefeated for more than six years. In other clichés, Hooker has nothing to lose. It is a position that Dagestan had to recognize, and one that the 30-year-old cannot take lightly, even subconsciously, with Hooker identifying himself as an obstacle to the party.

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Peter Jan is still in a somewhat silly limbo. Bantamweight hit Aljamain Sterling when a knee rash saw him ineligible for the illegal shooting in March, and the top division has been in a bizarre stalemate ever since, with Sterling needing surgery and online feuds with Yan while some claim he may Americans never go back to work.

Jan must suspect that he will never get a chance to avenge his nominal loss to Sterling, so his meeting with Cory Sandhagen ostensibly represents an opportunity to de-stress over the seven months since that controversial first loss of his career.

All of this is a huge motivator for Sandhagen, who is more than just a “live” opponent and is very capable of causing problems for Lian with his timing and experience.

Sandhagen’s steadfast stance as Yan moved his head toward him during their confrontation could be interpreted as impressive evidence of his innate confidence before their confrontation. Jan would be in exile if he faced any turmoil, perhaps doomed to this strange setback which was the result of the mischief he had done against Sterling.

It sums up the predicament faced by the goal of the three favorite fighters: victory, as always, is most important, but a convincing performance makes things incalculably sweeter and more valuable when the title is on its way.

By Ben Miller

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