The UFC Light Heavyweight Championship remained vacant this Saturday after a fight between Jan Blachowicz and Magomed Ankalaev ended in a split draw.
The rare result took place in the main event of UFC 282 from the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada, USA.
The first half of Saturday’s title fight took place at a stand-up range. Blachowicz had success from this position, landing kicks that caused visible damage to both legs of Ankalaev.
Ankalaev gained better control of the fight in the later rounds on the ground. Ankalaev got Blachowicz to the ground in the fourth and fifth rounds, spending numerous minutes in control and scoring with punches.
By the end, each fighter saw one judge on their side. It was the third deciding judge, who had a draw score after five rounds, which caused the contest to conclude without a victor.
Blachowicz did not seem confident about the fight afterward. He mentioned in his post-fight interview that he felt that he didn’t win the bout, but might have not lost either.
On the flip side, Ankalaev confidently believed that he should have won the contest.
“I don’t know what to say. I won that fight,” said Ankalaev through a translator in his post-fight interview.
Blachowicz and Ankalaev weren’t the originally scheduled main event for this card. The original plan was for Jiri Prochazka and Glover Teixeira to meet in a rematch for the promotion’s 205-pound title.
Prochazka withdrew from the card a few weeks prior due to a severe shoulder injury, also vacating his belt in the process. After Teixeira turned down a new title fight on this card, an already-booked three-round matchup between Blachowicz and Ankalaev was promoted to title fight status.
Ankalaev went into the weekend on a strong nine-fight winning streak in the UFC. He earned his first main event victory earlier this year, going five rounds against Thiago Santos for a win.
Blachowicz was aiming to become a two-time champion. His previous reign came to an end in 2021 when Teixeira earned a submission victory over him.
Pimblett Earns Close, Controversial Decision Over Gordon
Paddy Pimblett’s flawless UFC record scraped by a performance against Jared Gordon, beating him via unanimous decision after three rounds.
All three judges scored the fight two-rounds-to-one for Pimblett, a score that many critics disputed. MMADecisions.com, a site that collects scorecards from media members, saw an overwhelming 22 of the 23 media members score the fight for Gordon.
Pimblett picked up the victory after a close three-round contest.
The first and second rounds of the fight saw the lightweights in a back-and-forth contest. Gordon seemed to land the harder shots at times, winding Pimblett’s head back with hard blows. But Pimblett was able to connect with his own strikes as well, keeping the fight close.
Gordon held Pimblett in place for a large part of the third round, clinching against the cage with him. While Gordon had control of his position, he did not do much while in it.
Pimblett is currently one of the more popular UFC names that doesn’t hold a championship in the promotion. His three previous victories in the promotion all came via finish.
Gordon had the experience advantage in this fight, having already competed in the UFC 11 times before this Saturday. He was coming off a decision win over Leonardo Santos from August.
Ponzinibbio Scores Late Comeback Win
Santiago Ponzinibbio erased the comfortable lead of short-notice opponent Alex Morono late in the third round, finishing him with punches to end a losing streak.
Ponzinibbio rocked Morono in the third round with a clean right cross. He followed up on this with another right hand that dropped Morono, causing the fight to be stopped.
This sudden finish came after a highly successful two-and-a-half pounds of action from Morono. He out-landed Ponzinibbio throughout the fight and was able to visibly rock him in a few different instances.
Morono took this fight on a week’s notice, stepping in to replace Robbie Lawler. He had a strong run of four consecutive wins that was broken with his loss Saturday.
The fight put Ponzinibbio back into the win column after suffering two consecutive split decision losses over the past year.
Du Plessis Hands Till Third Consecutive Loss
Darren Till suffered another loss in his return to the UFC octagon this weekend, getting submitted in the third round of a bout against middleweight Dricus Du Plessis.
Du Plessis had Till in trouble in the opening minutes of the fight. He got on the back of Till against the cage, using this position to land long combinations of punches to the head. While these shots were mostly guarded by Till, the referee warned him many times that he could stop the bout.
Cardio became an issue for both fighters in the later rounds. Du Plessis was able to score numerous takedowns during the fight, often getting Till to the ground without much resistance.
Du Plessis eventually finished the fight with a rear naked choke in the third round. This submission came shortly after Du Plessis scored a double leg takedown on Till.
Till was aiming to snap a losing streak. His previous appearances in the division saw him lose to high-profile names Derek Brunson and Robert Whittaker. Till has still only scored one pro win since his undefeated record was stopped by Tyron Woodley in 2018.
Saturday was Till’s first time fighting in more than a year.
Du Plessis has yet to lose through four fights in the UFC. He beat experienced talent Brad Tavares earlier this year, earning a unanimous decision at UFC 276 in July.
Topuria Extends Undefeated Run, Ends Mitchell’s
Rising featherweight Ilia Topuria handed Bryce Mitchell his first pro loss on Saturday night, submitting him in the second round with an arm triangle choke.
The submission victory capped off a near-dominant performance for the undefeated Topuria.
It became clear early on that Topuria had the sharper striking. He cracked Mitchell with shots frequently in the first round, opening a cut near his left eye in the process.
Mitchell struggled to get the fight into a grappling exchange, a position where he potentially could have seen more success. Mitchell made numerous attempts to take the fight down, only successfully getting Topuria to the mat once.
Topuria’s success continued in the second round. He scored a knockdown against Mitchell at one point with punches. Topuria took a hurt and tiring Mitchell back to the ground later on, quickly slipping in an arm triangle choke from side control to force a tap.
Topuria has now picked up five wins since joining the UFC roster in 2020. He earned a finish win earlier this year as well, stopping Jai Herbert in March with strikes.
Mitchell entered this card with a record of 15 wins, including six in the UFC. He entered this bout after scoring a unanimous decision victory over veteran Edson Barboza in March.
The Rest of the Card
18-year-old Raul Rosas Jr., the youngest UFC newcomer ever, won his debut in the first round with a quick rear naked choke submission against Jay Perrin. Rosas Jr. now has a flawless record of seven wins.
Jairzinho Rozenstruick wasted no time against fellow heavyweight Chris Daukaus, storming him with punches and forcing a stoppage finish in just 23 seconds.
Edmen Shahbazyan picked up a big win this weekend, snapping a three-fight losing streak with a second-round stoppage victory over Dalcha Lungiambula. The fight was Shabazyan’s first victory since late 2019.
Chris Curtis put an end to his close stand-up battle against Joaquin Buckley in the second round. Curtis caught a kick from Buckley, then dropped him with a left cross. The fight officially ended due to ground and pound just moments later.
Billy Quarantillo came back after losing his first round to Alexander Hernandez, stringing together a series of punches in the second round that did significant damage and eventually forced the referee to stop the fight.
Erik Silva took a loss in his first UFC appearance, getting submitted in the third round with an arm triangle choke from TJ Brown. The fight moved Brown’s UFC record to an even three wins and three losses since his promotional debut in early 2020.
Former EFC Bantamweight Champion and “Dana White’s Contender Series” alum Cameron Saaiman won his UFC debut in the opening bout, putting away short-notice opponent Steven Koslow late in the third round with strikes.
Main Card (10:00PM EST / 7:00PM PST) (PPV)
Bout 12: Jan Blachowicz vs. Magomed Ankalaev via Decision, Draw (Vacant UFC Light Heavyweight Championship)
Bout 11: Paddy Pimblett def. Jared Gordon via Decision, Split
Bout 10: Santiago Ponzinibbio def. Alex Morono via TKO, Strikes (RD 3, 2:29)
Bout 9: Dricus Du Plessis def. Darren Till via Submission, Rear Naked Choke (RD 3, 2:43)
Bout 8: Ilia Topuria def. Bryce Mitchell via Submission, Arm Triangle Choke (RD 2, 3:10)
Preliminary Card (8:00PM EST / 5:00PM PST) (ESPN2 / TSN 5)
Bout 7: Raul Rosas Jr. def. Jay Perrin via Submission, Rear Naked Choke (RD 1, 2:44)
Bout 6: Jairzinho Rozenstruick def. Chris Curtis via TKO, Strikes (RD 1, 0:23)
Bout 5: Edmen Shahbazyan def. Dalcha Lungiambula via TKO, Strikes (RD 2, 4:41)
Bout 4: Chris Curtis def. Billy Quarantillo via TKO, Strikes (RD 2, 2:49)
Early Prelims (6:30PM EST / 3:30PM PST) (ESPN+ / UFC Fight Pass)
Bout 3: Billy Quarantillo def. Alexander Hernandez via TKO, Strikes (RD 2, 4:30)
Bout 2: TJ Brown def. Erik Silva via Submission, Arm Triangle Choke (RD 3, 3:41)
Bout 1: Cameron Saaiman def. Steven Koslow via TKO, Strikes (RD 3, 4:13)