Blachowicz, Ankalaev leave title vacant in draw
1: 31 AM ET
Brett OkamotoESPN Staff Writer
- MMA columnist for ESPN.com
- Analyst for “MMA Live”
- Covered MMA for Las Vegas Sun
LAS VEGAS — The UFC lost its light heavyweight champion Jiri Prochazka to injury in November. UFC 282 was supposed to crown his successor. It didn’t.
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. 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 47-47, resulting in the split draw.
Immediately after the fight, Blachowicz appeared to raise Ankalaev’s hand as if conceding defeat. Ankalaev would have lost if it wasn’t for the dominant fifth round. Cleary and D’Amato scored the final round 10-8 for Ankalaev. Ankalaev would have lost a split decision if they had not.
” I have to watch the fight but for certain I didn’t lose,” Blachowicz stated. “I don’t know if the fight was won or lost, but I’m not a winner. “
Ankalaev, of Dagestan, who was heavily favored going in, adamantly said he felt he won.
“I understand what you are trying to say,” Ankalaev explained through a translator. “I won that fight. Why didn’t my belt come with me? I don’t know how to respond. “
With the light heavyweight title still vacant after the draw, UFC president Dana White announced in the postfight news conference that former champ Glover Teixeira will face Jamahal Hill for the belt at UFC 283 next month. Teixeira was in the front row and watched Saturday’s title fight.
Prochazka (29-3-1), 30, is out indefinitely with a severe shoulder injury, which he just suffered last month. To allow the division to continue, he gave up his belt. He is expected to be out at least until mid-2023.
The fourth round saw a significant swing in momentum. Blachowicz had severely injured Ankalaev’s right leg with kicks during the second round. Ankalaev was forced to abandon his southpaw stance and fight primarily in orthodox. Blachowicz continued to attack Ankalaev with success.
In the fourth round, however Ankalaev switched almost exclusively to a wrestling-based strategy. Blachowicz was held against the fence by Ankalaev, who smashed into his hips. Blachowicz seemed to be tired from grappling and spent the last two rounds on his back. Ankalaev was dominant in the fifth round.
According to UFC Stats, Ankalaev outlanded Blachowicz 182-79 in total strikes. He also racked up more than 11 minutes of control time, compared with zero for Blachowicz. Ankalaev was successful on only two of 10 takedown attempts; Blachowicz did not attempt a single takedown. The draw ended Ankalaev’s nine-fight winning streak. Blachowicz surrendered the title to Teixeira in a submission loss in 2021, but rebounded with a TKO win over Aleksandar Rakic in May.
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