UFC 282 fight card — Jan Blachowicz vs. Magomed Ankalaev: Five biggest storylines to watch in Las Vegas


The final 2022 pay-per-view event for the world’s biggest MMA promotion takes place this weekend. UFC 282 takes place in Las Vegas at the T-Mobile Arena..

After a small SNAFU in terms of matchmaking due to injuries, former champion Jan Blachowicz will take on a red-hot Magomed Ankalaev in the main event for the vacant light heavyweight title. The card also marks the return of rising star Paddy Pimblett in the co-main event.

As we get closer to fight night, let’s take a closer look at the most important storylines coming out this weekend.

1. How did we get into this mess?

Yes, it’s hard for an MMA fan to complain that UFC PPV lacks star power when the promotion consistently rewards its clients with the matches everyone wants to see. But at the same time, the final card of each calendar year – previously held annually on New Year’s Eve in Las Vegas – has long been known as the UFC’s unofficial “major”. Moving the card to early December to please ESPN hasn’t necessarily changed that reputation, and it’s so clear that injuries, especially the torn shoulder that forced Jiri Prochaska to vacate 205lb world title, played a key role in making UFC 282 a little more mediocre. That said, with that said, Saturday’s card looks like a significant downgrade from what you’d expect. There is no doubt that Jon Jones’ heavyweight debut was originally scheduled for that date and never took place. But the promotion did a poor job of finding a second big fight to fill the void. Paddy Pimblett, a potential PPV star on the cusp of a breakout, gets a good push in the co-main event, but not against a superstar. And how the UFC handled its vacant light heavyweight title shot was also a little confusing as former champion Glover Teixeira, who was originally set to rematch Prochazka in the main event, told the promotion he would rematch Blachowicz in short deadlines, but he will need additional help. a month to prepare for Ankalaev, who is left-handed. Blachowicz-Ankalaev, who was already on the card in a non-title fight, is an acceptable main event and championship fight for hardcore fans, but lacks any form of crossover appeal.

2. Ankalaev can be present and future at 205 years old.

If you’ve been following MMA closely in recent years, regardless of organization, it’s not hard to see how many fighters from Dagestan, Russia have become a threat to world titles in almost every division. Consider Ankalaev the leader of the group, as the 30-year-old possesses many of the same qualities — from punching power to stoppage fighting and a sneaky streak to boot — that have helped lift the likes of Islam Makhachev and Usman Nurmagomedov to recent title conquests. Ankalaev may have lost his UFC debut in 2018 via submission to Paul Craig, but that remains the only loss of his 8-year professional career and has since won nine in a row, including five by knockout. It does not hurt that Ankalaev has some form of the name Magomed in his full name, which, as MMA reporter Aaron Bronsteter of TSN often points out, led to a frighteningly high win rate among other UFC fighters with similar names. Ankalaev has opened as a clear betting favorite against Blachowicz and appears poised to lead the division overall. Since former champion Jon Jones vacated the title in 2019, there has been no stability in the division. As for the 39-year-old Blachowicz, who created an unlikely renaissance run to the belt two years ago, all signs point to the takeover of Dagestan in MMA will only continue.

3. Can Pimblet take his star to the next level?

Given the impact he’s had on the UFC in just three short fights, it’s easy to forget that Pimblett, a 27-year-old Liverpool native, has been with the promotion for just over a year. But after three memorable undercard cameos, including two notable fights in London that perfectly showcased his long-term star potential, “Paddy Paddy” will make his PPV debut in a co-main event pairing alongside Jared Gordon. The bookies consider Pimblett to be the clear favorite, though it’s important to remember that his fights up to this point have been pretty dramatic given his gripping style. Pimblett, the former Cage Warriors champion, has apparently doubled down on the Conor McGregor comparisons he received by openly challenging the dormant Irish star to a PPV fight that Pimblett predicted would break UFC records. Of course, none of this can happen unless he first takes care of business against Gordon, who comes out having won four of his last five fights, albeit against mediocre opposition. Given that UFC 282 is sorely lacking in star power, it’s not out of the question that PPV will go as far as Pimblett during fight week, which should be a good indicator of how strong his star is at the moment.

4. Darren Till is running out of time and excuses

Hailing from the same English city as Pimblett, just over four years ago, Till was considered a legitimate UFC rising star. With the same cocky arrogance as McGregor’s, albeit laced with a Scouser accent, some wondered if Till could follow in the footsteps of former middleweight champion Michael Bisping and become the next great British MMA star. But Till’s one-sided welterweight loss to Tyron Woodley in 2018, which set his unbeaten record, was the start of a long and frustrating cycle that cast doubt on his fighting future. Till is only 1-4 post title fight and has suffered countless setbacks with injuries, weight issues that got him up to 185 pounds and legal troubles outside of the cage. His only victory in that stretch was a split decision over the equally inconsistent Kelvin Gastelum. Till is set to retire for 15 months when he takes on rising South African slugger Dricus du Plessis, who has an aggregate record of 17-2 and 3-0 since his UFC debut in 2020. This is definitely a winning fight for Till, a small underdog who has been helped by his opponent’s previous defense issues. But there will be no place for Till in this moral victory, like the tight and reliable game that he showed in the defeat of former champion Robert Whittaker two years ago. If Till hopes to remain a fighter who still has a bright future at the age of 29, this is a mandatory win scenario.

5. Don’t sleep on a 145 lb absolute keychain.

When undefeated featherweights Bryce Mitchell and Ilya Topuria face off in a top 10 matchup that is expected to open the PPV card, fans may well get a glimpse into the division’s future. Mitchell, a 28-year-old farmer from Arkansas, is 15-0 overall and has a six-fight streak since his UFC debut in 2018. but once, however, when he recorded just the second twister submission in UFC history against Matt Sales in 2019. one could hope. Topuria, at 12-0, is the ultimate hammer of a striker who, despite landing six submissions prior to joining the UFC, has turned himself into a dangerous knockout threat. Topuria has a 4-0 overall record in the UFC but has a streak of three knockout wins. Expect it to be both a heated fight and a Fight of the Night candidate.

Source: www.cbssports.com