UFC 282: Blachowicz vs. Ankalaev Preview

UFC originally planned to end their 2022 pay-per-view calendar year with a rematch between light heavyweights Glover Teixeira and Jiri Prochazka. The duo delivered on a “Fight of the Year” contender over the summer, providing a fair reason to match them up once again.

But the plan to have that bout as the main event for UFC 282 this Saturday didn’t hold up. After Prochazka suffered an injury and vacated his belt just weeks before the event, UFC was tasked with providing a new headliner for the card.

UFC’s solution was to elevate a previously-booked fight between Magomed Ankalaev and Jan Blachowicz to the main event of a card from the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada, USA.

On one hand, the fight provides a chance for a rising contender to earn a title faster than what the promotion had planned. And for Blachowicz, the booking offers an opportunity to reclaim the title and begin his second reign in the division.

Here’s a preview of that fight, plus the entire UFC 282 lineup.

Click here to skip to a preview of the main card.

Early Prelims (6:30PM EST / 3:30PM PST) (ESPN+ / UFC Fight Pass)

Bout 1: Cameron Saaiman (6-0) vs. Steven Koslow (6-0) (Bantamweight)

In a double UFC debut, undefeated bantamweights Cameron Saaiman and Steven Koslow.

Saaiman joined the UFC roster with a second-round finish win over Josh Wang-Kim on “Dana White’s Contender Series” this summer. He had a five-fight record of wins in the South African promotion EFC before then.

Koslow took this fight on short notice, replacing Ronnie Lawrence. All six of his pro wins have come on the U.S. regional scene via first-round submission. His last appearance, a July fight, saw him catch James Dunn early with a rear naked choke.

Koslow has notably not faced any names as challenging as Saaiman before. Most of his opponents as a pro had negative records or an even win-loss record at best.

Bout 2: Erik Silva (9-1) vs. TJ Brown (16-9) (Featherweight)

In another UFC debut, Erik Silva will meet TJ Brown.

Silva was one of the many names to get signed to the UFC roster after a win on “Dana White’s Contender Series” this year. He had a quick outing on the show, stopping Anvar Boynazarov in just over a minute with strikes. He was a featherweight champion in the Mexico-based regional promotion LUX Fight League before then.

Brown’s UFC record is currently two wins and three losses. He had a streak of victories snapped in his last appearance, suffering a unanimous decision defeat to Shayilan Nuerdanbieke in June.

Bout 3: Billy Quarantillo (16-4) vs. Alexander Hernandez (13-5) (Featherweight)

UFC vets Billy Quarantillo and Alexander Hernandez will both try to get back into the win column in the next contest.

Hernandez suffered a submission loss early this year, getting caught with a rear naked choke by Renato Moicano. The defeat moved his UFC record to five wins and four losses.

Quarantillo will be appearing for the first time in over a year. His last fight dates back to November 2021, when Shane Burgos earned a decision victory over him.

Preliminary Card (8:00PM EST / 5:00PM PST) (ESPN2 / TSN 5)

Bout 4: Chris Curtis (29-9) vs. Joaquin Buckley (15-5) (Middleweight)

Middleweights Chris Curtis and Joaquin Buckley will meet in the next prelim.

Curtis joined the UFC roster last year with a ton of momentum. He tore up the regional scene prior to entering the promotion, stringing together five wins between 2020 and 2021. He impressed in his UFC debut, stopping Phil Hawes in the first round with strikes. Only a month later, he came back to defeat Brendan Allen.

Curtis kept his success going in June with a decision over Rodolfo Vieira. This momentum came to an end in July, as Jack Hermansson executed a strong game plan to defeat him via unanimous decision. Curtis will try to bounce back from that road bump on this weekend’s card.

Buckley similarly had a run of success stopped in September, not getting the decision nod over Nassourdine Imavov. He had a trio of UFC wins prior to then.

Bout 5: Edmen Shahbazyan (11-3) vs. Dalcha Lungiambula (11-5) (Middleweight)

Edmen Shahbazyan has an incredibly important matchup this weekend, as he will look to break a losing streak against Dalcha Lungiambula.

Shahbazyan was a heavily hyped UFC prospect in 2019 due to his youth and flawless pro record of 11 wins. But this came to an end when he fought some top middleweight names. In 2020, Derek Brunson ended his undefeated record with a third-round stoppage. Jack Hermansson and Nassourdine Imavov have since picked up wins over him as well. After more than a year out of the cage, Shahbazyan will try to stop his losing streak this Saturday.

Lungiambula has similarly suffered three consecutive defeats. Two of those losses came this year, being finished by Cody Brundage and Punahele Soriano.

Bout 6: Jairzinho Rozenstruick (12-4) vs. Chris Daukaus (12-5) (Heavyweight)

Both once touted as prospects at heavyweight, Jairzinho Rozenstruick and Chris Daukaus will try to break losing streaks this weekend.

Daukaus was quickly shooting up the heavyweight rankings last year, having earned four straight wins in the UFC. Former title challenger Derrick Lewis put an end to this momentum just less than a year ago, stopping him in the first round of a main event bout.

Daukaus has since suffered another main event defeat, getting stopped by Curtis Blaydes in March.

Rozenstruick’s two recent wins have come against high-profile names. Like Daukaus, he lost a bout to Blaydes recently. His last fight was a quick one, getting finished in just over two minutes by Alexander Volkov in June.

Bout 7: Jay Perrin (10-6) vs. Paul Rosas Jr. (6-0) (Bantamweight)

The hyped UFC debut of Paul Rosas Jr. will come in the final prelim fight when he takes on Jay Perrin.

Rosas Jr. received attention this Fall for appearing on “Dana White’s Contender Series” while only 17 years old. He earned the sixth win of his undefeated record on that card, beating LFA alum Mando Gutierrez via unanimous decision to earn a UFC contract. Now still 18 years old, Rosas Jr. will have bright lights under him for the next step in his MMA career.

Perrin is still looking for his first UFC win. He has suffered two defeats in his rookie year with the promotion, losing scorecards to Mario Bautista and Aoriqileng.

Main Card (10:00PM EST / 7:00PM PST) (PPV)

Bout 8: Bryce Mitchell (15-0) vs. Ilia Topuria (12-0) (Featherweight)

In a clash between two undefeated featherweight prospects, Bryce Mitchell and Ilia Topuria will compete.

Mitchell was originally scheduled to headline a UFC main event card against another undefeated name, Movsar Evloev, in November. But after that fight fell through, Mitchell was added to this lineup.

Mitchell has the longer UFC record of these two fighters. He joined the promotion in 2018 and has earned six wins since then. He has proven to be a proficient grappler, dominating opponents on the ground for large portions of their fights.

He showed both his stand-up and grappling skills in his last fight, working toward a comfortable unanimous decision win over vet Edson Barboza in March.

Topuria has picked up four wins since entering the UFC in 2020. He has proven to be an explosive fighter, as three of his wins have come via finish. His last fight was a knockout win against Jai Harbert in March.

Bout 9: Darren Till (18-4-1) vs. Dricus Du Plessis (17-2) (Middleweight)

Darren Till will look for his first victory since 2019 when he faces Dricus Du Plessis on Saturday’s main card.

Till has struggled in recent years of his career. Things all started to come crashing down in 2018 when he lost a title fight to Tyron Woodley. Since suffering his first pro defeat in that appearance, Till has won just one of his last five pro bouts.

Till is currently on a two-fight skid. One of those appearances was a loss to former champion Robert Whittaker in 2020. After injuries forced him out of numerous bouts for a year’s time, Till returned in September 2021 and lost a fight to Derek Brunson via rear naked choke submission.

Du Plessis is certainly another tough test for Till. He has yet to lose through three UFC appearances. His last victory was over veteran Brad Tavares, who he beat via decision at UFC 276 this year.

Bout 10: Santiago Ponzinibbio (28-6) vs. Alex Morono (22-7) (Catchweight 180 lbs)

In a fight that was made on somewhat short notice, Santiago Ponzinibbio and Alex Morono will collide.

Morono joined the card this week to replace Ponzinibbio’s previous opponent, Robbie Lawler. He is currently on a four-fight winning streak for the first time in his UFC campaign.

Ponzinibbio, on the other hand, will be fighting to avoid taking his third consecutive loss. His last two fights came both via split decision, against Geoff Neal and Michel Pereira over the past year.

Bout 11: Paddy Pimblett (19-3) vs. Jared Gordon (19-5) (Lightweight)

Paddy Pimblett will get the biggest spotlight of his career thus far when he faces Jared Gordon in Saturday’s main event.

Pimblett is currently one of the more popular UFC fighters that don’t possess a championship. This is due to his high-action fighting style and energetic personality.

The former Cage Warriors champion made his debut for the promotion in 2021 with a first-round stoppage against Luigi Vendramini. His two appearances this year have come in front of live audiences in London, England.

His first victory of the year saw him submit Kazula Vargas in the first round with a rear naked choke. Then in July, his most recent fight, Pimblett caught Jordan Leavitt with the same submission. He can end his year with a third win in front of a live crowd this weekend, potentially boosting his already strong following even more.

Gordon enters this bout with the UFC experience advantage. He has fought against UFC-level competition since 2017. He is coming off a decision victory over veteran Leonardo Santos. from August.

Bout 12: Jan Blachowicz (29-9) vs. Magomed Ankalaev (18-1) (Vacant UFC Light Heavyweight Championship)

Former titleholder Jan Blachowicz and rising contender Magomed Ankalaev will fight to become the new UFC Light Heavyweight Champion in Saturday’s main event.

This match was always booked for UFC 282, but the title implications of it were quite last minute. Previous titleholder Jiri Prochazka was originally expected to face Glover Teixeira in a rematch on this card. However, plans changed after Prochazka was pulled from the event with a shoulder injury.

Prochazka vacated his belt due to the injury. And since Teixeira did not agree to a new matchup on UFC 282, he was temporarily removed from the title picture as well.

In what was a chain reaction to all of this news, a fight between Blachowicz and Ankalaev was upgraded to title fight status and boosted to the main event of this card.

The fight is a chance for Blachowicz to reclaim something that he lost just over a year ago. Blachowicz notably became UFC Light Heavyweight Champion in 2020 with a win over Dominick Reyes. He defended the belt once, giving moving-up middleweight Israel Adesanya his first pro loss in a five-round 2021 battle.

Blachowicz’s title reign came to an end in October 2021 when Teixeira submitted him in the second round of a title fight.

Blachowicz has picked up one win since then, defeating Aleksandar Rakic in May due to a leg injury. Blachowicz is undoubtedly still one of the top names at 205 pounds and could shoot back up to first place in the class with a solid performance on Saturday.

Many expected Ankalaev to get a title fight in the UFC someday. However, most did not think this weekend was when it would officially happen.

Ankalaev has picked up nine consecutive wins in the UFC since 2018. As the challenges have increased, he has continued to shine. He won his first main event fight in March, going the distance against Thiago Santos for a victory. And he scored a stoppage win in his last bout, finishing Anthony Smith with strikes at UFC 277.

Saturday will mark the end of a long, stretching campaign for one contender, or the return of a king that lost his throne just over a year ago.

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