Originally published at UFC 282: Jan Błachowicz and Magomed Ankalaev fight to a draw
UFC 282 Report: Jan Błachowicz and Magomed Ankalaev fight to a draw, UFC Light Heavyweight Championship remains vacant
On Saturday night, UFC 282 took place from the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada. Originally, this card was expected to be headlined by a rematch of what was arguably the 2022 Fight of the Year between Jiri Procházka and Glover Teixeira for the UFC Light Heavyweight Championship, but after Prochazka pulled out of the bout due to a shoulder injury, his championship was vacated, and Teixeira was soon removed from the card as well. In its place, it was decided that the co-main event between former UFC Light Heavyweight Champion, Jan Błachowicz, and Magomed Ankalaev would be moved into the main event slot, and it would now be a five-round bout with the vacated title on the line. With Błachowicz and Ankalaev elevated into the main event slot, the new co-main event featured Paddy Pimblett facing Jared Gordon in a lightweight bout.
The commentary team for this card consisted of Jon Anik, Joe Rogan, and Daniel Cormier. Performance of the Night bonuses were awarded to every fighter on the card who secured a finish, with the exception of Dricus Du Plessis, who was awarded a Fight of the Night bonus along with his opponent, Darren Till. The announced attendance for this event was 18,455, with a gate of $4,409,511.
- Cameron Saaiman def. Steven Koslow by TKO at 4:13 of Round 3
- J. Brown def. Erik Silva by arm triangle at 3:41 of Round 3
- Billy Quarantillo def. Alexander Hernandez by TKO at 4:30 of Round 2
- Chris Curtis def. Joaquin Buckley by KO at 2:49 of Round 2
- Edmen Shahbazyan def. Dalcha Lungiambula by TKO at 4:41 of Round 2
- Jairzinho Rozenstruik def. Kyle Daukaus by KO at 0:23 of Round 1
- Raul Rosas Jr. def. Jay Perrin by rear naked choke at 2:44 of Round 1
- Ilia Topuria def. Bryce Mitchell by arm triangle at 3:10 of Round 2
- Dricus Du Plessis def. Darren Till by rear naked choke at 2:43 of Round 3
- Santiago Ponzinibbio def. Alex Morono by TKO at 2:29 of Round 3
- Paddy Pimblett def. Jared Gordon by unanimous decision (29-28 all)
- Jan Błachowicz vs. Magomed Ankalaev resulted in a split draw (48-47, 47-47, 46-48). UFC Light Heavyweight Title remains vacant.
CAMERON SAAIMAN (6-0, 135) VS STEVEN KOSLOW (6-0, 136) – BATAMWEIGHT
Koslow secured an early takedown, and he began to work from half-guard with four minutes remaining in the round. Koslow lost top position when he attempted to transition into a more advantageous position, and Saaiman began to work from the guard of Koslow. Koslow did a good job of trapping Saaiman, keeping him from doing much damage, but attempted an armbar to no success, which eventually led to Saaiman taking his back. Saaiman ended up slightly too high in the position, which allowed Koslow to escape back into top position and fire off some ground and pound strikes before time expired.
Koslow chased after a guillotine choke to begin the second round, but the submission attempt was unsuccessful, and the fight returned to the feet momentarily. Koslow opted to return Saaiman to the ground with a double leg, but Saaiman rolled on the ground, which allowed him to take top position. Saaiman took the back of Koslow with just over two minutes remaining in the round, but the fighters scrambled to the feet, and an illegal knee to the head from Saaiman to Koslow led to a pause in the action. A point was deducted from Saaiman, but it was determined that Koslow could continue. Saaiman was cut near his left eye before the end of the round, seemingly from a short elbow from Koslow. Close round, but either way, with the point deduction taken into account, Saaiman would likely need a finish in round three to win this one.
Koslow took the fight right back to the ground in the opening minute of the final round, but Saaiman was quickly able to take top position. Saaiman attempted to take the back of Koslow, but he was a bit too high on Koslow’s back, and he soon transitioned to mount, where he tried to flatten Koslow out and secure the ground and pound finish. Koslow escaped to his feet, but he was rocked by strikes from Saaiman, and Saaiman just poured it on in pursuit of a finish, until referee Chris Tognoni was eventually forced to stop the fight.
WINNER: Cameron Saaiman by TKO at 4:13 of Round 3
While it was a fairly even, grappling-based bout, the point deduction in the second round changed the dynamic of the fight, as Saaiman was suddenly in desperate need of a finish to secure the win. By that point in the bout, Koslow was clearly tired, and he was making far more mistakes on the ground than he was earlier in the fight, allowing Saaiman to do some damage with ground and pound. In the end, Saaiman got the finish he was looking for after rocking Koslow on the feet, taking home the win in his UFC debut. After the fight, Saaiman apologized for the illegal knee and expressed his desire to fight on the UFC’s next card in London.
T.J. BROWN (16-9, 145.5) VS ERIK SILVA (9-1, 146) – FEATHERWEIGHT
Brown landed a huge right hand to begin the fight but opted to take Silva down, which allowed Silva to recover as he defended the attempt. Brown attempted to climb onto Silva’s back along the cage but was unsuccessful, and a prolonged grappling exchange along the cage eventually resulted in Silva securing a takedown. Brown scrambled to his feet, where he pressed Silva up against the cage, landing a number of elbows before the round reached its end.
The fighters traded hands on the feet until Silva shot for a successful takedown. Silva connected with a strong elbow from Brown’s guard, but gave up his position moments later as Brown took top position. Brown worked his way to the back of Silva, but was unable to do much as Silva was largely positioned against the cage. He searched for a rear naked choke, but could not find it before the end of the round.
Both men landed knees in the opening seconds of the final round before Brown took Silva down in the middle of the cage. Initially, Brown seemed to be looking for an armbar on the ground but seemed to give up on it as he focused on maintaining his position. Eventually, he was able to lock in an arm triangle, and while Silva did a good job of attempting to escape the submission, he was eventually forced to tap out.
WINNER: T.J. Brown by arm triangle at 3:41 of Round 3
Much like the previous bout on this card, this fight largely took place on the ground, and it was a very evenly contested bout until the final round. By that point in the fight, Silva seemed tired, and Brown was able to capitalize with an early takedown, further wearing Silva’s gas tank out on the ground before locking in the fight-ending arm triangle. Brown improved to 3-3 in the UFC, and this marked his first finish in the promotion (the fourteenth finish of his career).
BILLY QUARANTILLO (16-4, 146) VS ALEXANDER HERNANDEZ (13-5, 145.5) – FEATHERWEIGHT
Hernandez was throwing heavy hands early until he was dropped by a leg kick from Quarantillo. Upon returning to his feet, Hernandez opted to take Quarantillo to the ground but did keep him there for long, instead choosing to throw some heavy strikes in exchange for giving up his position. The fighters traded hands back on the feet, with one of Quarantillo’s shots opening up a cut beneath Hernandez’s left eye. Hernandez took Quarantillo back to the ground, and he landed a huge elbow that cut Quarantillo open above his left eye, which led to blood obscuring his vision as Hernandez continued to do damage from top position.
Quarantillo opened up the second round with a wild jumping kick to the body, but was nearly taken down in the process. The fighters traded heavy hands after a brief exchange in the clinch, and Quarantillo’s shots were forcing Hernandez to back up. Quarantillo had Hernandez hurt, and he decided to take Hernandez down near the cage. Quarantillo landed a number of heavy ground and pound shots, and while Hernandez made it back to his feet, Quarantillo continued to pour on the attack, landing shot after shot until the fight was stopped.
WINNER: Billy Quarantillo by TKO at 4:30 of Round 2
Hernandez had a very solid opening round, doing significant damage with his ground-and-pound strikes, however, he’s never been known for his cardio, and Billy Quarantillo is very much a fighter who can go at a ridiculous pace for fifteen minutes. By the halfway point of the second round, that difference in cardio became apparent, and Quarantillo began to overwhelm Hernandez with the pace of his attack, hurting him repeatedly before ultimately finishing the fight. It was a great performance from Quarantillo against a dangerous opponent, and he is now 5-2 in the UFC.
CHRIS CURTIS (29-9, 186) VS JOAQUIN BUCKLEY (15-5 185.5) – MIDDLEWEIGHT
The fighters exchanged leg kicks throughout the opening minutes. The first big exchange occurred after Curtis landed a heavy right hand, which prompted Buckley to flurry forward with some big shots of his own. Both men were throwing their strikes with fight ending intent, but very little was landing cleanly, and when the shots did connect, their respective chins held up well. Buckley’s activity was likely the difference maker here, but it was a close round.
Buckley continued to have the edge in terms of output in the second round, while Curtis attempted to counter with heavy hooks. Eventually, one of those big counters from Curtis dropped Buckley hard, and Curtis followed him to the ground, knocking him unconscious with ground-and-pound strikes.
WINNER: Chris Curtis by KO at 2:49 of Round 2
I thought this was on its way to being yet another fight on the card where the victor was decided by pace and cardio, as Buckley’s output seemed to be giving Curtis a great deal of problems, but Curtis eventually found the big counter strike that he was looking for after catching a kick from Buckley, and he immediately capitalized on the big knockdown, finishing the fight with some brutal ground and pound. It was a strong win for Curtis, who defended his spot in the welterweight rankings here against a very dangerous opponent in Joaquim Buckley. Curtis now holds a record of 4-1 in the UFC, with three KO/TKO finishes.
EDMEN SHAHBAZYAN (11-3, 185.5) VS DALCHA LUNGIAMBULA (11-5, 185.5) – MIDDLEWEIGHT
Shahbazyan was really attacking the body of Lungiambula with kicks throughout the opening minutes of the fight. Lungiambula responded with some hard kicks of his own, but he eventually opted to chase after a takedown. Shahbazyan defended the attempt, and the fight continued to play out on the feet, where the fighters continued to trade kicks before Lungiambula ended the round with a big left hand.
An early low blow to Shahbazyan led to a short break in the action as Shahbazyan was given time to recover. The pace of this fight was not overwhelming, but Shahbazyan continued to find success attacking the body, and he circled the cage as Lungiambula attempted to cut him off and land a big strike of his own. Those fight-changing strikes never really came from Lungiambula though, and Shahbazyan eventually landed a huge knee up the middle that rocked Lungiambula. Shahbazyan went on the attack in pursuit of the finish, and Lungiambula eventually went down from Shahbazyan’s attack. Shahbazyan followed him to the ground and threw down ground-and-pound shots until the fight was stopped.
WINNER: Edmen Shahbazyan by TKO at 4:41 of Round 2
Shahbazyan attacked the body of Lungiambula for the better part of nine minutes, all while taking very little damage, as his movement was giving Lungiambula problems. Eventually, Shahbazyan opted to go high with a knee, rocking Lungiambula, and he just proceeded to swarm Lungiambula with strikes until the finish came. It was the ideal performance from Shahbazyan, who had lost his three previous fights going into this one, taking some significant damage in the process. While Lungiambula is not at the level of Shahbazyan’s opponents throughout that streak of losses, the way in which this fight played out was a positive sign for Shahbazyan, who recently switched camps, and is still just 25 years of age.
JAIRZINHO ROZENSTRUIK (12-4, 261.5) VS CHRIS DAUKAUS (12-5, 242.5) – HEAVYWEIGHT
Daukaus rushed forward to start the fight, but he was immediately rocked by a jab from Rozenstruik. Rozenstruik recognized that Daukaus was hurt, and he swarmed Daukaus with strikes, eventually dropping him with a left hand. While the fight didn’t last long, Daukaus had taken quite a lot of damage throughout the bout’s short duration, and the fight was stopped.
WINNER: Jairzinho Rozenstruik by KO at 0:23 of Round 1
Rushing Rozenstruik on the feet is a very dangerous strategy, as Rozenstruik is a skilled counter-striker with fight-ending power, but that’s what Daukaus attempted to do here, and he was quickly finished as a result. Francis Ngannou and Alexander Volkov are really the only fighters who have been able to catch Rozenstruik on the feet, and Daukaus just isn’t quite on that level, although he is indeed a heavy hitter himself. Whenever Rozenstruik wins, it’s typically in highlight reel fashion, and this bout was no exception, with this marking his ninth first-round knockout victory to date.
RAUL ROSAS JR. (6-0, 136) VS JAY PERRIN (10-6, 136) – BANTAMWEIGHT
Rosas Jr. shot for an early takedown, and while he couldn’t keep Perrin down initially, he quickly climbed onto the back of Perrin, where he locked in a rear naked choke. Perrin did his best to defend the attempt but was eventually forced to submit.
WINNER: Raul Rosas Jr. by rear naked choke at 2:44 of Round 1
Rosas Jr. got a great reaction from this crowd, despite this being just his first UFC bout. He fought on the contenders series in September, winning his fight and then getting signed that night, at just seventeen years of age. He has since turned eighteen, but his youth has naturally given him a ton of attention, and despite that spotlight and inexperience, Rosas Jr. proved that he was ready to rise to the occasion here, easily submitting his more experienced opponent. It was a great performance, and when you couple that with the reaction from this crowd, you could even say that this was a star-making night for Raul Rosas Jr.
BRYCE MITCHELL (15-0, 146) VS ILIA TOPURIA (12-0, 146) – FEATHERWEIGHT
Topuria cracked Mitchell with some heavy hands in the opening seconds of the fight, as well as a strong calf kick. Topuria defended Mitchell’s first takedown attempt of the fight and continued to touch him up on the feet. Mitchell was cut open above his left eye from a clash of heads, but it did not seem to be impacting his vision, and he chased after a single leg, but could not get Topuria down. Topuria was swinging for the fences, which was giving Mitchell opportunities to counter, but Topuria was finding his mark more often than not. Late in the round, Mitchell was successful in taking Topuria to the ground. He didn’t do enough with the position to win the round, but it was a good sign for Mitchell going into round two.
Topuria landed a big left hand to begin round two. Mitchell shot for a single leg, but the shot was defended, and Topuria punished him with a combination of strikes on his way up. Mitchell was looking for creative ways to take Topuria down, and there were some excellent attempts, but Topuria managed to stay on his feet. Mitchell began to open up on the fight, but a big right hand from Topuria knocked Mitchell down, and he opted to follow Mitchell to the ground. Topuria landed some big shots, but Mitchell made it back to his feet. Topuria cracked Mitchell with an uppercut before tossing Mitchell down to the ground, where Topuria started looking for the arm triangle. The submission was locked in tight, and Mitchell was forced to submit.
WINNER: Ilia Topuria by arm triangle at 3:10 of Round 2
This was actually the fight I was looking forward to most on this card, as I thought that this would be a very interesting fight stylistically between two of the top undefeated prospects at featherweight. The fight played out in a rather one-sided fashion though, as Topuria just battered Mitchell on the feet, defended Mitchell’s takedowns with ease, and ultimately submitted him. After the fight, Topuria called for a title shot or a fight against Brian Ortega. I don’t think Topuria will get the next title shot, nor a fight with Ortega given Ortega’s recent injury, but he feels like a genuine contender, and I would not be opposed to seeing him in there with one of the division’s top fighters in his next bout. Topuria is now 5-0 in the UFC, with five finishes.
DARREN TILL (18-4-1, 184.5) VS DRICUS DU PLESSIS (17-2, 206) – MIDDLEWEIGHT
Du Plessis secured an early takedown, and worked his way to the back of Till, as Till attempted to return to his feet. Du Plessis landed a seemingly never-ending barrage of punches to Till against the cage, and at times, it looked as though referee Mark Smith was going to stop the fight. Eventually, Du Plessis opted to take Till back to the ground, and he took the back of Till, where he started looking for a rear naked choke. Till avoided the submission and was able to escape to his feet with just over thirty seconds remaining in the round. Till knocked Du Plessis off balance, and he caught Du Plessis with some hard ground and pound shots before Du Plessis escaped, ending the round with one last takedown. I thought this was a 10-8 round for Du Plessis.
Till went back on the attack to begin the second round. Du Plessis looked very tired back on the feet, and Till was looking far sharper, landing each of his strikes with power. Du Plessis was able to take Till down with a desperate takedown, but Till quickly worked his way back to the feet and separated from Du Plessis. The straight left hands from Till were knocking Du Plessis’s head back every time they landed, and Du Plessis didn’t seem to have much to offer Till at this point in the bout, but Till’s takedown defense was not holding up well, and Du Plessis was able to take him down one last time to end the round, rolling for a leg lock before time expired.
Du Plessis landed a hard left hand early in the third round. An accidental low blow from Du Plessis led to a short break in the action, but Till wasted little time before the fight continued. Du Plessis was having far more success on the feet in this round than he was in the first, but eventually decide to take Till down once more. He immediately took Till’s back, and locked him in a rear naked choke, forcing Till to submit.
WINNER: Dricus Du Plessis by rear naked choke at 2:43 of Round 3
Till took a ton of damage in the opening round, to the point that the fight was on the verge of being stopped multiple times, but he improved his positioning whenever he was in trouble, and by round two, he was clearly the fresher fighter. Till easily took round two, and it looked as though he was on the verge of pulling off the comeback victory, but Du Plessis looked fresher in round three and was able to hang with Till on the feet before finishing him with the rear naked choke. This marked Till’s fifth loss throughout his last six fights, and the broadcast team stated that Till said he tore his ACL in the bout, so his future will be very much up in the air after this one. Du Plessis is now 4-0 in the UFC following this win, and will likely take Till’s spot in the top ten of the division when the rankings are next updated.
ALEX MORONO (22-7, 1 NC, 179.5) VS SANTIAGO PONZINIBBIO (28-6, 179.5) – CATCHWEIGHT
Morono caught Ponzinibbio with a heavy right hand early, as well as a spinning back fist. Morono was really swinging on a lot of his big shots, clearly looking for an early knockout win. Ponzinibbio was a bit more hesitant to engage and was falling behind in terms of activity as Morono worked his jab. Just as the crowd started voicing their displeasure at the pace of the fight, Morono caught Ponzinibbio with a big right hand, knocking him off balance to the floor, and Morono landed a few more ground-and-pound shots before Ponzinibbio returned to his feet.
Morono rushed forward with a right hand that knocked Ponzinibbio to the ground early in round two. Ponzinibbio did not appear to be hurt, but this was a notable moment for the scorecards. The output was very low from Ponzinibbio throughout the first half of this round, and his most impactful moments of the fight were coming from his leg kicks, which he was not throwing with regularity. Ponzinibbio picked up the pace a bit late, throwing numerous jabs to the body, before catching Morono with some looping right hands. It was a very close round, but I gave it to Ponzinibbio.
Ponzinibbio’s corner told him he was in need of a finish in this final round, but he did not seem to be fighting with more urgency, at least immediately. A right hand from Morono hurt Ponzinibbio badly, and Morono moved in as he attempted to finish Ponzinibbio off. Ponzinibbio did a good job of keeping the distance while he recovered, but if he wasn’t in need of a finish prior to that shot, he was certainly in need of one after. Ponzinibbio must have realized this, as he rushed forward with a pair of heavy right hands, dropping Morono hard, finishing the fight.
WINNER: Santiago Ponzinibbio by TKO at 2:29 of Round 3
It was tough to say whether the fight was 19-19 or 20-18 in Morono’s favor going into the third round, but after Morono rocked Ponzinibbio badly with a right hand early in the final round, Ponzinibbio was unquestionably in need of something big. Ponzinibbio, who had been somewhat hesitant to commit to his attacks to that point in the bout, realized this, and he immediately surged forward with a pair of huge right hands, rocking and dropping Morono, before finishing him with a single follow-up shot. Morono took this fight on extremely short notice, so it was a solid outing for him given the circumstances, but in the end, Ponzinibbio had his arm raised, picking up his first finish since November of 2018.
PADDY PIMBLETT (19-3, 156) VS JARED GORDON (19-5, 155.5) – LIGHTWEIGHT
Gordon landed a left hand in the opening minute of the bout, as Pimblett pressured forward. Another counter left hook from Gordon found its target, putting Pimblett on the retreat momentarily. These hooks from Gordon were repeatedly finding their target, but Pimblett’s chin held up well early, and he began to throw numerous kicks at the lead leg of Gordon. Both fighters were landing their shots with power, and this was a very closely contested round, but a late takedown attempt from Pimblett resulted in Gordon taking top position, ending the round in an advantageous position. 10-9 Gordon.
Pimblett began the second round with a head kick that was partially blocked by Gordon. Gordon was digging into the body, while still mixing those hooks into the head. Gordon shot in for a takedown, and Pimblett attempted to respond with an inverted choke. Gordon escaped the submission, but Pimblett escaped to his feet as well. Both fighters landed good shots back on the feet, and they traded leg kicks before Gordon shot in for another takedown. Pimblett defended the attempt and caught Gordon with a right hand on his way out. An inadvertent eye poke from Pimblett led to a momentary pause in the action, and he was given a stern warning. This was a very close round. 19-19.
Gordon took Pimblett down to begin round three. Pimblett quickly made it back to his feet but found himself pressed against the cage while Gordon continued to hunt for takedowns. There was not a ton of affective offense from either fighter to this point, as Pimblett’s defense held up well, while Gordon was unrelenting, and with two minutes remaining in the round, the fighters separated. Gordon wasted little time in bringing Pimblett back to the cage, however, and he eventually managed to take Pimblett down. Pimblett scrambled into the advantageous position as they continued to wrestle back on the feet, but neither fighter did much of significance before time expired. A very uneventful round to score. 29-28 Gordon.
WINNER: Paddy Pimblett by unanimous decision (29-28 all)
Pimblett said it wasn’t a close fight in the slightest, and coasted in the third round because he knew he was up on the scorecards. I’m unsure if that was a wise strategy, but all of the judges were in agreement, so things worked out for him regardless. He also stated that he hurt his right foot in the process, so depending on the severity of the injury, he may be out for some time. Despite the scoring controversies, I thought the first two rounds of this fight were very fun, although I shall do my best to remove the memory of the round of this fight from my mind. Pimblett is now 4-0 in the UFC, with this being his first fight in the promotion to go the distance.
JAN BLACHOWICZ (29-9, 204.5) VS MAGOMED ANKALAEV (17-1, 205) – UFC LIGHT HEAVYWEIGHT CHAMPIONSHIP
Both fighters found early success on the feet, with Ankalaev looking slightly stronger with his counters. Neither fighter was pushing the pace in round one, looking to gauge their opponent’s timing early. Ankalaev was clearly quicker, but he could not get reckless, as he clearly felt Błachowicz’s power, even from the back foot. Ankalaev found success with his front kicks to the body, as not only were they doing damage, but they were keeping Błachowicz at range as well. 10-9 Ankalaev.
Błachowicz was throwing a solid number of low kicks and was attempting to time heavy left hooks whenever Ankalaev stepped into range. Błachowicz was more successful on his feet in round two, and Ankalaev was not throwing nearly as many kicks to the body, but whenever he surged forward, he was still finding success. A heavy leg kick from Błachowicz got a huge reaction from Ankalaev, and the next one practically dropped him. In response, Ankalaev closed the distance in an attempt to take Błachowicz down, but he was unsuccessful and opted to change stances instead. The fighters traded big right hands before Błachowicz defended one last takedown. 19-19.
The first leg kick Błachowicz landed in the third round got another big reaction from Ankalaev, who had forgotten to switch to the orthodox stance. Ankalaev’s counters were still very strong whenever Błachowicz attempted to close the distance, so despite his injured leg, he was clearly still very dangerous. Błachowicz had done significant damage to the right leg of Ankalaev as well with his kicks, and Ankalaev shot for a takedown out of desperation. Błachowicz was able to defend the attempt, and the fight continued to play out on the feet. 29-29 Błachowicz, despite a late takedown from Ankalaev.
Ankalaev immediately closed the distance and wrapped Błachowicz back up in the clinch to begin round four. Ankalaev did good work in the clinch, before eventually taking Błachowicz down with just over three minutes to work. Błachowicz attempted to scramble to his feet, but Ankalaev took his back in the process. While Ankalaev was unable to finish the fight from this position, he maintained top position on the ground until the round’s conclusion, and this was an easy one to score for him. 38-38.
The fighters hugged to begin the final round. Błachowicz seemed to slip after overreacting heavily on a feinted takedown, and Ankalaev took top position with nearly the entire round to work. Błachowicz had no answers for Ankalaev on the ground, and Ankalaev easily controlled the fight from top position. Ankalaev trapped one of Błachowicz’s arms, and he began to throw down heavy hands in an attempt to secure the late stoppage. The stoppage never came, but this was another clear round for Ankalaev, and I scored the fight 48-47 in his favor.
RESULT: Split Draw (48-47, 47-47, 46-48). UFC Light Heavyweight Championship remains vacant.
Initially, I was shocked by the decision. I had the fight scored 48-47 for Ankalaev, with the fifth round arguably being a 10-8 round in Ankalaev’s favor. The UFC commentary team and both fighters seemed to be in agreement with this result as well, as there was clear surprise by all as the decision was announced. The broadcast aired the judges’ scorecards, and as it turned out, all three judges were in agreement that Błachowicz won the first round. I scored that round for Ankalaev, so I rewatched the round to see where the judges were coming from. Upon rewatching the round, the five minutes were even closer than I thought after watching them live, and I do think that scoring that round for Błachowicz is understandable. As such, I thought that the 48-47 scorecard for Błachowicz was defendable, as was the 47-47 scorecard, as judge Sal D’Amato scored the final round 10-8 in favor of Ankalaev. The one scorecard that I thought was off, was the 48-46 scorecard turned in by Derek Cleary in favor of Ankalaev. Scoring the fight 48-46 for Ankalaev is actually entirely reasonable if you give Ankalaev round one, but Cleary gave round three to Ankalaev on this scorecard, which is a far tougher sell given the amount of damage Błachowicz did to the legs of Ankalaev.
In the end, the draw was quite the anti-climatic finish to this fight, which already felt odd given the title’s recent vacancy by Jiri Prochazka and the complete lack of involvement from Glover Teixeira. It’s tough to judge either fighter’s performance in this bout due to the strange circumstances which resulted in their fight moving from a three-round bout to a five-round title fight on such short notice, but I didn’t think this was a great outing from either man. Ankalaev was just picked apart by Błachowicz’s leg kicks, and Błachowicz could do nothing to stop Ankalaev from closing the distance once he was hurt, possibly due to his fatigue by that point in the bout. Ankalaev was furious with the decision, stating that he was unsure if his next bout would be in the UFC after this, but that was likely just a comment said in the heat of the moment, and I do assume that his next bout will be for the UFC Light Heavyweight Championship despite the outcome here (although Dana White later stated that he plans on booking Glover Teixeira versus Jamahal Hill for the title next). For his part, Błachowicz was clearly very disappointed in his performance and stated that they should give Ankalaev the belt. Joe Rogan was very aggressive in trying to get Błachowicz to state that he believed that he lost the fight in his post-fight interview, but I believe that Błachowicz handled the situation in a very humble and respectful manner, and I doubt he would be opposed to running this fight back with a full camp in the future.