Jan Blachowicz vs Magomed Ankalaev
Initially paired off to determine the next title challenger, Jan Blachowicz and Magomed Ankalaev will now battle for the vacant light heavyweight title in Saturday’s UFC 282 main event.
Blachowicz has been in this position before and had success, scoring a second-round knockout win over Dominick Reyes at UFC 253 to claim the title after Jon Jones vacated the belt. The Polish standout successfully defended against Israel Adesanya, dropped the belt to Glover Teixeira, and then rebounded with a win over Aleksandar Rakic earlier this year to put him right back into the mix.
No one in the division has a longer winning streak inside the Octagon than Ankalaev, who enters having won nine straight after dropping his promotional debut at literally the last second. The well-rounded Russian is 18-1 overall and collected a second-round stoppage victory over Anthony Smith in July at UFC 277 to maintain his winning ways and further cement his standing as the top fresh contender in the division.
Jiri Prochazka choosing to vacate the title due to a serious shoulder injury was an unfortunate turn of events, however this is a terrific fight between two competitors that have earned their places at the top of the division. It’s a competitive, compelling matchup pitting Blachowicz and his “legendary Polish power” against Ankalaev’s diverse arsenal, and it should answer any lingering questions anyone had about the ascending fighter from Dagestan’s standing in the division.
With Prochazka expected to be out for some time, the winner most likely faces off with former champ Glover Teixeira in the first half of next year to resolve things atop the division for the time being.
Paddy Pimblett vs Jared Gordon
Paddy Pimblett makes his pay-per-view debut, seeking a fourth straight UFC win and sixth consecutive victory overall as he squares off with grimy veteran Jared Gordon on Saturday night.
“The Baddy” has been a whirlwind of excitement and energy since touching down in the Octagon for the first time a little less than 15 months ago. He’s produced a trio of stoppage victories and a pair of deafening walkouts at The O2 in London, and now the 27-year-old gets the step up in competition everyone has been waiting to see him take as he lands on pay-per-view opposite Gordon this weekend in Las Vegas.
The 34-year-old New Yorker Gordon made the return to lightweight just over a year ago and has gone 2-1 over three fights, earning wins over Joe Solecki and Leonardo Santos on either side of a third-round submission loss to rising star Grant Dawson. Training out of Kill Cliff FC and sporting a 19-5 record overall, “Flash” is by far the most experienced and accomplished opponent Pimblett has faced to date in the UFC, and should force the popular British lightweight to be at his best this weekend.
Pimblett needs a victory in a fight like this to show that in addition to being a magnetic personality, he’s a genuine person of interest when it comes to the lightweight hierarchy. For Gordon, this is a chance to upset the apple cart and collect a massive win that propels him into 2023 with a tremendous amount of momentum.
It’s going to be captivating to see how this one shakes out.
Bryce Mitchell vs. Ilia Topuria
Ranked and highly regarded featherweights lock horns in this main card gem, as Bryce Mitchell faces off with Ilia Topuria.
Mitchell claimed the “bronze medal” on Season 27 of The Ultimate Fighter with a win over Tyler Diamond and has kept rolling ever since, touching down in Las Vegas for this one with a 6-0 mark in the UFC and an outstanding 15-1 record overall. “Thug Nasty” scored a dominant decision win over Edson Barboza last time out in March that showed he’s ready to hang with the elite of the division, and if he can turn back Topuria on Saturday, a date with a Top 10 opponent should follow.
Topuria missed weight for a January assignment against Charles Jourdain and then bumped up to lightweight where he knocked out Jai Herbert in London to push his record to 4-0 in the UFC and 12-0 overall. Now back in his natural featherweight surrounds, the 25-year-old Georgian aims to keep things rolling by halting Mitchell’s ascent and usurping his place int he divisional rankings.
This might be the most fascinating fight on the card and is certainly one that carries legitimate divisional ramifications going forward. Featherweight will be at the fore in 2023 and the winner of this one will very much be in the mix in the 145-pound weight class.
Darren Till vs. Dricus Du Plessis
Darren Till returns and takes on Dricus Du Plessis in an intriguing clash of middleweights.
Fighting for the first time in over a year, Till looks to start building some momentum after losing two straight prior to suffering an ACL injury last year. He’s just 1-4 dating back to his welterweight title fight, but doesn’t turn 30 until Christmas Eve, so a return to full health and a good effort here could potentially be the start of a strong second chapter for the Liverpool man.
Du Plessis has earned three wins in as many starts since arriving in the UFC, building on consecutive knockouts over Markus Perez and Trevin Giles with a gutsy, bloody, hard-earned win over Brad Tavares last time out. The South African has won five straight overall, 13 of his last 14, and 17 of 19 in his career, and a victory over Till would catapult him to new heights heading into 2023.
Can Till come back and show everyone that he’s capable of being a contender again or will “Stillknocks” collect another victory and swap places in the rankings with the British star?
Raul Rosas Jr. vs. Jay Perrin
Raul Rosas Jr. looks to continue adding to his burgeoning fame when he takes on Jay Perrin in his promotional debut this weekend.
Rosas Jr. made history this fall, competing on Dana White’s Contender Series as a 17-year-old. He won, earned a contract, and now the undefeated 18-year-old aims to start down a path that leads to him breaking Jon Jones’ record for being the youngest champion UFC history as he makes the walk to the Octagon for the first time on Saturday.
While Perrin has competed inside the UFC cage twice already this year, he’s yet to collect his first UFC victory. After getting outhustled by emerging standout Mario Bautista in his short-notice debut, “The Joker” gave a better showing of himself while dropping a unanimous decision to Aoriqileng last time out.
Rosas Jr. is one of the more fascinating long-term stories to track in the UFC, but Perrin will be looking to play spoiler this weekend. This should be a captivating affair for as long as it lasts.
Jairzinho Rozenstruik vs. Chris Daukaus
It’s a clash of Top 15 heavyweights fixing to finish 2022 on a high note, as Jairzinho Rozenstruik steps in opposite Chris Daukaus.
Since rattling off four wins in 11 months to start his UFC career, Rozenstruik has gone 2-4 against the best the heavyweight division has to offer. Currently sitting on the first two-fight losing streak of his career after getting run over by Alexander Volkov in early June, “Bigi Boy” needs a big effort this weekend to avoid a three-fight slide.
Daukaus enters in a comparable position, having suffered a knockout loss to Derrick Lewis in the final UFC bout of 2021, and a fairly similar fate in his first appearance this year against Curtis Blaydes. The former Philadelphia police officer won each of his first four UFC contests by stoppage, so it will be interesting to see if he can rediscover that form here.
Neither of these men is particularly fond of having the judges decide their fate, so expect heavy leather to be flying from the jump and things to continue that way until one of them is left looking up at the lights.
Edmen Shahbazyan vs. Dalcha Lungiambula
Edmen Shahbazyan makes his return to the Octagon, stepping in against Dalcha Lungiambula on Saturday’s televised prelims.
Shahbazyan was one of the early breakout stars from Dana White’s Contender Series, following his Season 2 victory with four wins in 12 months to force his way into the middleweight rankings as a UFC rookie. But things quickly shifted from there, as “The Golden Boy” dropped three straight before taking the past year off to change camps, regroup, and ready for this return to action.
Lungiambula won two of his first three UFC starts, with his loss coming against headliner Magomed Ankalaev, but since then, “Champion” has struggled. He touches down in Las Vegas on a three-fight slide like Shahbazyan, most recently getting knocked out by Punahele Soriano on Long Island in July.
Someone’s extended absence from the win column is going to end this weekend, but will it be the returning 25-year-old or his 35-year-old counterpart?
Billy Quarantillo vs. Alexander Hernandez
Billy Quarantillo and Alexander Hernandez square off in a featherweight clash with the potential to set the bar for Fight of the Night honors early in the evening.
Quarantillo returns for the first time since dropping a unanimous decision to Shane Burgos last November at Madison Square Garden in New York City. The 33-year-old is 4-2 in the UFC thus far, yet has come up short in his biggest opportunities to date, so perhaps a little time away to reset will be just what he needs to begin an extended run of success starting this weekend.
This will be Hernandez’s first featherweight appearance in the Octagon, and comes with the former prospect mired in a “win one, lose one” pattern that tracks back to his sophomore victory over Olivier Aubin-Mercier. Last time out, Hernandez was picked apart and choked out by Renato Moicano, and it will be interesting to see if a change in divisions can produce a change in results for the San Antonio native going forward.
Neither of these men has any aversion to wading into the fire and getting touched by the flames, so we should be in for an all-action contest once the cage door closes behind them.
Chris Curtis vs. Joaquin Buckley
Business shifts to the middleweight division and a potentially explosive pairing between Chris Curtis and Joaquin Buckley, each of whom is looking to bounce back from a frustrating setback last time out.
Curtis had his fairytale three-fight run of success inside the Octagon and overall eight-fight winning streak snapped in July when he stepped in against Jack Hermansson. Despite the loss, the “Action-Man” has established himself as a legitimate factor in the 185-pound weight class and is more than capable of kicking off a new run of success this weekend in Las Vegas.
Much like his dance partner this weekend, Buckley also had his three-fight winning streak halted overseas, landing on the wrong side of the cards in a clash with Nassourdine Imavov in Paris at the start of September. This weekend, the explosive finisher hustles back into the cage looking to do the same thing he’s done each time he’s suffered a loss in his career: get right back into the win column.
Which of these two middleweights will close out 2022 with a victory and which will be forced to endure the holidays on a two-fight slide?
TJ Brown vs. Erik Silva
It’s a battle of DWCS alums in the featherweight division as TJ Brown welcomes Erik Silva to the Octagon for the first time.
A member of the DWCS Class of ’19, Brown dropped his first two UFC appearances, only to rally and win his next two outings to bring his record level. He dropped a decision to Shayilan Nuerdanbieke in June, and is now tasked with being the first to face the streaking Silva on the biggest stage in the sport.
“King” Erik Silva punched his ticket to the UFC this summer, running through Anvar Boynazarov at the UFC APEX to extend his winning streak to eight. The former Lux Fight League titleholder has collected five straight first-round finishes heading into his promotional debut this weekend, where everyone will be watching intently to see if he can continue that streak now that he’s competing in the UFC.
Brown is the most experienced opponent Silva has faced to date, which means this preliminary card contest should provide an early baseline for where the newcomer fits within the 145-pound hierarchy, win or lose.
Cameron Saaiman vs. Steven Koslow
It’s a clash between young bantamweights with identical 6-0 records as Cameron Saaiman squares off with Steven Koslow this weekend in Las Vegas.
Saaiman, who turns 22 later this month, looked outstanding in his victory on Dana White’s Contender Series earlier this year, weathering an early attack from Josh Wang-Kim before dispatching the American with a left hook midway through the third round. The South African doesn’t carry himself like a 21-year-old with only a handful of fights under his belt, and it will be interesting to see how much that aids him now that he’s matriculated to the biggest stage in the sport.
Koslow steps in on short notice, replacing Ronnie Lawrence, and looks to finish the year with an early Christmas present to himself in the form of a UFC victory. The 25-year-old, who fights out of Jacksonville, Florida, won his final 10 fights as an amateur, and has maintained his successful ways since turning pro, earning finishes in each of his first six appearances.
Both of these fighters are still extremely young in their careers, but they’ve consistently handled their business thus far and should deliver excitement as soon as the action gets underway on Saturday evening at T-Mobile Arena.
Vinicius Salvador vs. Daniel Da Silva
Flyweights open the show at UFC 282, as Brazilians Vinicius Salvador and Daniel da Silva meet in Saturday’s opener.
Salvador delivered a highlight reel finish against Shannon Ross earlier this summer at the UFC APEX, putting out the Australian with a barrage of punches late in the second round of the Contender Series clash. The victory extended the tall, rangy newcomer’s winning streak to four, and sends him into this weekend’s debut with a little bit of buzz and momentum.
It’s been tough sledding for da Silva since touching down in the UFC, as the 26-year-old enters his clash with Salvador on a three-fight slide. There have been momentary flashes of upside from “Miojo” in each of those outings, only for things to sharply and suddenly take a turn for the worst.
Which Brazilian will head out into the Las Vegas night with every reason to celebrate?
UFC 282: Błachowicz vs Ankalaev took place live from T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada on December 10, 2022. See the Final Results, Official Scorecards and Who Won Bonuses - and relive the action on UFC Fight Pass!