UFC 282: Light heavyweight title stays vacant after Blachowicz v Ankalaev ends in draw

Controversy in main event in Las Vegas as judges award a split draw, leaving Ankalaev furious

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The UFC light heavyweight title remains vacant after the main event at UFC 282 between Jan Blachowicz and Magomed Ankalaev ended in a controversial draw at at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas.

Judge Mike Bell scored the fight 48-47 for Blachowicz, Derek Cleary 48-46 for Ankalaev and Sal D’Amato 47-47, although No 3-contender Blachowicz told fourth-ranked Ankalaev he deserved the belt.

Ankalaev was so upset over the decision he said through a Russian interpreter he didn’t know if he would “fight in this organisation again”.

“I won that fight,” Ankalaev (18-1-1 said. “I won the belt. Where is my belt?”

Blachowicz (29-9-1) seemed embarrassed by the decision, saying in the post-fight interview: “Maybe we can have a rematch. I don’t choose the judges.”

The co-main event also went to the scorecards, and there was far from widespread agreement among the fans about the results of that fight as well.

Even if Blachowicz-Ankalaev was the main event, much of the crowd came to see England’s Paddy Pimblett in the co-main fight. American Jared Gordon, 34, had other ideas, dictating the tempo in the lightweight match even as the crowd repeatedly yelled: “Let’s go, Paddy!”

But even much of the crowd had trouble believing the decision, with many booing Pimblett (20-3) winning 29-28 on all three judges’ cards. Gordon shook is head and laughed when the scores were announced.

“It wasn’t that close,” Pimblett said. “I coasted in the third round because I knew I already won the first two.”

The brash 27-year-old has become a polarising figure in the UFC, but has backed up his words with his performances in the cage to date, even getting a major benefit of the doubt from the judges over Gordon (19-6). This was the first time Pimblett has fought into the third round since entering the UFC in September 2021.

As for the main event, Blachowicz and Ankalaev weren’t expected to be the headliners, but light heavyweight champion Jiri Prochazka dropped out because of a shoulder injury. Second-ranked Glover Teixeira declined to fight Blachowicz, vacating the title and elevating this fight to a championship bout.

Paddy Pimblett beat Jared Gordon on the judges scorecards. Getty

The fight was even through the first two rounds, but Blachowicz began to get the upper hand in the third with his kicks that weakened Ankalaev. Then Ankalaev took the Polish fighter to the floor with about five seconds left and came out swinging in the fourth.

Ankalaev took Blachowicz back to the floor with a little more than three minutes left and kept him there the remainder of the fourth, but wasn’t able to get a submission.

Again in the fifth, Ankalaev came out the aggressor by throwing punches and quickly getting Blachowicz to the floor, where it became a wrestling match the rest of the way.

“I did everything to get this victory,” Ankalaev said.

Fighting for the championship was nothing new for Blachowicz, who claimed the belt in September 2020 with a technical knocking of Dominick Reyes in Abu Dhabi. However, Blachowicz lost the title when Teixeira beat him by submission in the second round in October 2021.

Raul Roses Jr won on his UFC debut by submitting Jay Perrin. USA Today

This was Ankalaev’s first title shot, and he was nearly undefeated entering this match. He was ahead on the scorecards in a 2018 bout against Paul Craig, but was submitted with a second left.

With the light-heavyweight title still vacant, UFC president Dana White confirmed in the post-fight press conference that the belt will next be contested by No 2-ranked Teixeira and No 7 Jamahal Hill at UFC 283 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil on January 21.

"We'll do Glover versus Jamahal Hill in Brazil for the vacant title," White said. "Done."

Earlier in the event, Raul Rosas Jr, 18, became the youngest UFC fighter to win a match when he caused fellow American Jay Perrin, 29, to submit by rear naked choke at 2:44 of the first round of the bantamweight bout.

Rosas asked in the post-fight interview if UFC president Dana White could provide him a $50,000 bonus so he could buy his mom a minivan to shuttle him to the UFC Performance Institute. Rosas was indeed awarded one of the performance of the night bonuses.

Updated: December 11, 2022, 7:47 AM