Former champion Jan Blachowicz (29-9-1) and Magomed Ankalaev (18-1-1) fought to a five-round split draw in the main event of UFC on Saturday inside T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas. Judge Mike Bell scored the bout 48-47 for Blachowicz, while judge Derek Cleary had it 48-46 for Ankalaev. A third judge, Sal D'Amato scored it an even 47-47, resulting in the split draw.
Immediately after the fight, Blachowicz appeared to raise Ankalaev's hand, as if conceding defeat. In fact, Ankalaev would have lost the bout were it not for a dominant fifth round. Judges Cleary and D'Amato scored the final round 10-8 for Ankalaev. Had they not, Ankalaev would have lost a split decision.
A significant momentum swing around the fourth round defined the championship bout. Blachowicz hurt Ankalaev's lead right leg with kicks in the second round so badly, Ankalaev was forced to abandon his natural southpaw stance and fight primarily orthodox. Blachowicz continued to pepper Ankalaev's legs very successfully.
In the fourth round, Ankalaev turned almost exclusively to a wrestling-based strategy. He shot into Blachowicz's hips and held him against the fence. Eventually, Blachowicz grew fatigued from the grappling and spent much of the final two rounds off his back. Again, the fifth round was particularly dominant for Ankalaev.
Jan Blachowicz and Magomed Ankalaev fight to a split draw in the main event of UFC 282.
According to UFC Stats, Ankalaev outlanded Blachowicz in total strikes 182 to 79. He also racked up more than 11 minutes of control time, compared to zero for Blachowicz. He was only successful on two of 10 takedown attempts, while Blachowicz did not attempt a single takedown.
The draw interrupted a nine-fight win streak for Ankalaev. Blachowicz surrendered the title to Glover Teixeira in a submission loss in 2021, but rebounded with a TKO win over Aleksandar Rakic in May.
Okamoto: Blachowicz-Ankalaev ruled draw, title still vacant | Watch Blachowicz vs. Ankalaev on ESPN+
UFC 282 results
Lightweight: Paddy Pimblett (20-3, 4-0 UFC) def. Jared Gordon (19-6, 7-5 UFC) by majority decision (Watch this fight on ESPN+)
Paddy Pimblett and Jared Gordon give the Vegas fans their money's worth in Round 1 of their co-main bout.
Pimblett was the most talked about fighter on the card. The most talked about thing coming out of the card might be the decision in his fight.
"The Baddy," one of the UFC's top rising stars, squeaked out a unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28) over Gordon in the co-main event of UFC 282. All three rounds were close, but many believed Gordon did enough to win at least two. Pimblett, of course, disagreed in his postfight interview with Joe Rogan.
"I won the first two rounds and I coasted in the third," Pimblett said. "I knew I was two rounds up and I didn't want to do anything dangerous. ... I know for a fact I won the first two rounds pretty easily."
Gordon landed several good left hooks in the first round. Later in the round, Pimblett landed some hard combinations and then a takedown. But Gordon was able to scramble into top position before the end of the frame. In the second, Pimblett landed some combinations and a hard shot to the body. He countered a Gordon takedown attempt into a choke, but Gordon escaped. Gordon also had some success on the feet in the second.
The third was lackluster, and Gordon opted to grind Pimblett against the cage for most of the round. Gordon nearly got Pimblett down and took his back, but Pimblett took Gordon's back briefly after a scramble before the final bell.
Pimblett, 27, is now 4-0 in the UFC and this was his only fight thus far to go to the decision. The native of Liverpool, England, has won six straight overall and is a former Cage Warriors featherweight champion. Gordon, a 34-year-old New York native, has won four of six overall but has dropped two of his past three.
Catchweight (180 pounds): Santiago Ponzinibbio (30-6, 10-5 UFC) def. Alex Morono (22-8 1 NC, 11-5 1 NC UFC) by TKO (Watch this fight on ESPN+)
Ponzinibbio had been bloodied and dropped in the first round, dropped in the second and wobbled more than once in the third -- but he kept coming. Finally, late in the fight, he connected with a big right hand he had been looking for all fight long. The punch stunned Morono and led to Ponzinibbio getting the finish at 2:29 of the final round.
Ponzinibbio, who came in having lost three of his past four fights, showed himself to be a survivor who is forever dangerous. He was out struck the whole way by his late-replacement opponent, who patiently picked apart the Argentine. But Morono slowed down a bit in the final round and it caught up to him -- in the form of a right hand that dropped him and a flurry on the canvas that prompted referee Jason Herzog to jump in.
Morono saw a four-fight winning streak come to an end. The bout was fought at a catchweight because Morono was brought in during fight week after Ponzinibbio's original opponent, Robbie Lawler, pulled out with an unspecified injury.
Middleweight: Dricus Du Plessis (18-2, 4-0 UFC) def. Darren Till (18-5-1, 6-5-1 UFC) by submission (Watch this fight on ESPN+)
Du Plessis picked up the biggest win of his career, despite a nerve-wracking second round in which it appeared Till was close to a comeback victory.
Du Plessis, of South Africa, quickly took Till down in the opening round and landed dozens of unanswered shots along the fence. Referee Mark Smith took a close look at Till during the onslaught, but Till repeatedly signaled to Smith he was fine and defended himself just enough to thwart a stoppage.
Till, 29, used Du Plessis' early effort against him in the next round. He applied pressure on the feet and popped Du Plessis with several good left hands and a counter knee up the middle. However, Du Plessis regained control in the third as he worked a takedown and quickly tapped a tired, banged-up Till with a rear-naked choke at the 2:43 mark.
It's a big win for Du Plessis, who is now 4-0 in the UFC. Till was ranked No. 10 in the division coming in. For Till, it continues a slide that's been going on since he came up short against Tyron Woodley for the welterweight championship in 2018. Till is now just 1-5 in his past six, and this was his only appearance of 2022 due to injury.
Men's featherweight: Ilia Topuria (13-0, 5-0 UFC) def. Bryce Mitchell (15-2, 6-1 UFC) by submission (Watch this fight on ESPN+)
The UFC featherweight division has a newly minted contender. Topuria dominated Mitchell and then finished him with an arm-triangle choke submission at 3:10 of the second round. Topuria was able to stave off the excellent wrestling of Mitchell, knock him down with his fists and then choke out a fighter who was billed as a better grappler. Both men were considered two of the best young 145-pound fighters in the world. "Before we came in, I knew I was better than him on the ground and in standup -- anywhere," Topuria said. "I showed it to everyone. Why is no one screaming right now? What happened?"
Topuria landed some hard shots in the first round, but Mitchell got a late takedown. In the second, Mitchell landed some punches and a head kick. But Topuria shook it off, stopped Mitchell's takedown attempts and dropped Mitchell with a hard combination. While on the ground, Topuria landed some punches, worked to the back, and when Mitchell tried to escape, he put Mitchell back down and cinched in the side choke.
Topuria, 25, is now 5-0 in the UFC, with finishes in his past four fights. The German-born Georgian fighter, who lives and trains in Spain, has only been to a decision once in his MMA career. Mitchell, a 28-year-old Arkansas native, came in on a six-fight UFC winning streak.
Men's bantamweight: Raul Rosas Jr. (7-0, 1-0 UFC) def. Jay Perrin (10-7, 0-3 UFC) by submission (Watch this fight on ESPN+)
Raul Rosas Jr. wins his UFC debut over Jay Perrin with a submission via rear-naked choke.
The fighting future of the 18-year-old Rosas began with two records: First, he became the youngest fighter to compete in the UFC, then he became the youngest to win inside the Octagon.
Rosas made it look easy. He got the fight to the canvas within the first minute, immediately seizing control, which he maintained before eliciting the tapout from Perrin via rear-naked choke at 2:44 of Round 1. Then the undefeated Rosas showed a veteran's poise in his postfight interview, saying, "Dana! Fifty g's!" He was calling for a bonus from UFC president Dana White "so I can buy my mother a minivan and she can give me a ride to the [UFC Performance Institute]."
How young is Rosas? When he was born on Oct. 18, 2004, Robbie Lawler, who was scheduled to compete on this card before an injury sidelined him, was already six fights into his UFC career.
Perrin, a 29-year-old from Lowell, Massachusetts, has lost all three of his UFC fights, and his record dropped to 10-7.
Heavyweight: Jairzinho Rozenstruik (13-4, 7-4 UFC) def. Chris Daukaus (12-6, 4-3 UFC) by knockout (Watch this fight on ESPN+)
Jairzinho Rozenstruik needs less than 30 seconds to finish opponent Chris Daukaus at UFC 282.
It had been more than a year since Rozenstruik added a knockout win to his résumé. That streak ended emphatically on Saturday.
Rozenstruik, 34, blitzed Daukaus from the opening bell and put him away in just 23 seconds. He hurt Daukaus immediately with a jab, left hook and jumping knee. Another right hand put him on the canvas and the bout was waved off. It was a throwback to the 2019 version of Rozenstruik, who finished three consecutive opponents in under a minute.
Daukaus, of Philadelphia, has had a very tough run as of late. After starting his UFC career on a four-fight win streak, Daukaus has now suffered three straight knockout losses. Rozenstruik snaps a two-fight skid with the win.
Middleweight: Edmen Shahbazyan (12-3, 5-3 UFC) def. Dalcha Lungiambula (11-6, 2-5 UFC) by TKO (Watch this fight on ESPN+)
Edmen Shahbazyan finishes opponent Dalcha Lungiambula in front of a hyped Vegas crowd.
Shahbazyan was once one of the top prospects on the UFC roster, the protégé of Ronda Rousey on a trajectory toward a championship.
The past two years haven't been so kind to him. But changes -- more than a year off, a new gym and a new manager -- seem to have pointed Shahbazyan in the right direction. He picked up a TKO victory over Lungiambula at 4:41 of the second round with a sharp display of striking.
"I'm glad I took that time off to improve," Shahbazyan said. "I moved to Vegas. I guess I'm Vegas Edmen now."
Shahbazyan left Glendale Fighting Club for Xtreme Couture in Las Vegas and now has Ali Abdelaziz of Dominance MMA as his manager. He had not fought since November 2021. Shahbazyan started a flurry with a knee that hurt Lungiambula, and a right hand put the opponent down. Some swarming ground-and-pound finished things.
Shahbazyan, still just 25 years old, snapped a three-fight losing streak with the win. The California native went 4-0 with three finishes to start his UFC run. Lungiambula, a 35-year-old Congo-born fighter, has dropped four straight and five of six.
Middleweight: Chris Curtis (30-9, 4-1 UFC) def. Joaquin Buckley (15-6, 5-4 UFC) by knockout (Watch this fight on ESPN+)
Chris Curtis knocks out Joaquin Buckley in Round 2 of their fight in Las Vegas.
Curtis is known as "The Action Man," but for a round and a half, it was Buckley who was bringing the action. Though Curtis was the more accurate striker and was well-guarded by his defense, Buckley's buzzsaw of aggression was leading the dance.
Curtis pivoted and went to his bread and butter, counterpunching, and instantly turned the tide. The 35-year-old from Las Vegas caught a Buckley kick and, while holding the leg with his right hand, unloaded a straight left hand that dropped his opponent, leading to a KO on the canvas at 2:49 of Round 2.
The win got Curtis back on track after his eight-fight winning streak was snapped in July. Buckley, who is 28 and from St. Louis, has lost two in a row.
Men's featherweight: Billy Quarantillo (16-5, 5-2 UFC) def. Alexander Hernandez (13-6, 5-5 UFC) by TKO (Watch this fight on ESPN+)
Billy Quarantillo finishes Alexander Hernandez in the second round of their prelim fight at UFC 282.
The man referred to as "Billy Q" is known for an entertaining style, and that was once again the case in a second-round finish.
Quarantillo, of New York, finished Hernandez at the 4:30 mark with standing strikes against the fence. The finish came after Quarantillo stuffed multiple takedown attempts by Hernandez, and made him pay for the failed effort with knees to the body.
As Hernandez started to fatigue from the body shots, Quarantillo looked to pour it on the feet. In an extended sequence, he caught Hernandez with an uppercut, a Superman punch and a flurry along the fence. Hernandez tried to survive and fire back, but eventually, the volume accumulated to the point it had to be stopped.
Quarantillo, 34, overcame a challenging first round in which Hernandez opened a deep cut over his left eye with elbows. His wrestling defense was a key in turning the tide and he's now won five of his seven UFC appearances.
Men's featherweight: TJ Brown (17-9, 3-3 UFC) def. Erik Silva (9-2, 0-1 UFC) by submission (Watch this fight on ESPN+)
T.J. Brown defeats Erik Silva via arm triangle in Round 3 to excite the crowd at UFC 282.
Brown had some camp chaos coming into UFC 282, but he didn't let it affect his performance. Near the end of a back-and-forth fight, Brown was able to get into top position, shift to an arm-triangle choke and force Silva to tap at 3:41 of the third round. Brown had been training with James Krause at Glory MMA in Missouri, but the UFC has banned Krause amid a betting investigation and fighters have been told to disassociate with him or they cannot participate in UFC events. Krause was not in Brown's corner.
Brown wobbled Silva with a right hand immediately to start the bout. The two exchanged big shots and scrambles throughout the bout. But Brown was able to get into a superior position on top and move to the submission.
Brown, 32, has won three of his past four fights. The Arkansas native is Dana White's Contender Series alum. Silva, a 35-year-old Venezuelan-born fighter who trains out of Costa Rica, was making his UFC debut after earning a contract on Contender Series.
Men's bantamweight: Cameron Saaiman (7-0, 1-0 UFC) def. Steven Koslow (6-1, 0-1 UFC) by TKO (Watch this fight on ESPN+)
Two undefeated 135-pounders opened the night with a fight that did what grappling-heavy bouts seldom do: elicit cheers rather than boos from just-brawl-for-us MMA fans. But after the fighters traded advantages on the mat in entertaining scrambles for much of the fight, the crowd ended up getting what it came for, when Saaiman hurt Koslow with a flurry on the feet in the third round and got the TKO at 4:13.
For Saaiman, a 21-year-old from South Africa, it was his UFC debut. He has scored finishes in six of his seven wins.