UFC 282 staff picks and predictions: Blachowicz vs. Ankalaev
The last UFC title fight of 2022 is for a vacant belt with Jan Blachowicz and Magomed Ankalaev set to battle it out for the light heavyweight ‘ship. Those two headline UFC 282, the penultimate event of the year.
Their fighting for this belt because former champ Jiri Prochazka opted to vacate the title after it became clear he required surgery and a lengthy recovery time. Initially, UFC 282 was supposed to feature Prochazka in the main event; defending his belt against the man he took it from, Glover Teixeira.
But now Teixeira will have to wait in the wings to see what happens between Blachowicz and Ankalaev. Don’t ask us what might happen, as a staff we are split on this event with five of us picking Ankalaev and three of us betting on Blachowicz. This could mean we’re about to witness a very close fight.
Check out the picks below to see whose siding with whom. Don’t forget to add your pick in the comments!
Jan Blachowicz vs. Magomed Ankalaev
Anton Tabuena: Teixeira should’ve been in this title bout, but once again, UFC prioritized the ESPN PPV schedule more than sporting merit or what fans want. As for this fight, Ankalaev’s streak is impressive, but I just think Blachowicz is still underrated and should take this by being the more technical striker. Jan Blachowicz by TKO.
Chris Rini: Blachoviwcz has been turning in surprising performances ever since he outstruck Alexander Gustafsson in 2016. Also, I flipped a coin and it said he would win.
Victor Rodriguez: Ankalaev may be a bit more explosive, but he doesn’t exercise the same kind of control. Jan is also capable of dismantling more technical strikers while exercising excellent top control on the ground and some punishing work inside. Ankalaev has to get real creative to get the win here — and he can totally do that. I just trust Jan and his defensive skills more. Jan Blachowicz by decision.
Tim Bissell: Magomed Ankalaev is my pick here and they are the oddsmakers’ favourite, too — but I think this is a lot closer a fight than Vegas seems to be suggesting. I’m sold on Ankalaev’s familiar north caucasus style of relentless pressure and heady acumen. In addition to that, though, he’s good good stand-up (especially as a counter striker) and has shown that against fighters who hang their hats on their striking prowess. I think Blachowicz is smarter when it comes to striking, though, and has the ability to hurt Ankalaev and catch him on the chin if this fight has prolonged periods on the feet. I have a feeling Anakalaev and his team know that, too, though. Because of that I see this fight being on the ground or against the fence more than Blachowicz wants it to be. If that’s true, I think Ankalaev will ride his way to a decision or late submission. Magomed Ankalaev by decision.
Zane Simon: I’m not so sure that this will be a good fight as it is a fight that I am very interested in seeing. If Ankalaev doesn’t come out to wrestle hard he’s very likely going to find a difficult puzzle in Blachowicz standing. The former champ has excellent kick defense and is an incredibly focused counter puncher. Given Ankalaev’s tendency to keep a slow and cautious pace, he could easily find himself in rounds where little of consequence is landed and where Blachowicz gets the better of exchanges. But the wrestling is a concern, especially given Blachowicz’s longtime willingness to play a guard game as his first reaction to a takedown. If Ankalaev gets on top he can likely stay there and do serious damage. And given how cautious both men are standing, he may just as well steal close rounds with big single moments of offense. If he can catch Blachowicz rushing in regularly, that may be all he needs to grab the attention of the judges. Given that both men are durable, I’ll take Ankalaev’s clear potential to take this fight over in one area as a better path to victory. Magomed Ankalaev via TKO, round 4.
Staff picking Blachowicz: Anton, Chris, Victor
Staff picking Ankalaev: Bissell, Kristen, Zane, Dayne, Stephie
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