Ankalaev Phoenix In the Clinch: Blachowicz & Ankalaev Go for Light Heavyweight Title, UFC 282In the Clinch: Blachowicz & Ankalaev Go for Light Heavyweight Title, UFC 282The light heavyweight title picture is what it is at UFC 282, and main event participants Jan Blachowicz and Magomed Ankalaev understand that.

It’s not their fault Jiri Prochazka admirably vacated the title due to injury and pulled out of UFC 282. They also can’t be blamed that Glover Teixeira wanted more time to prepare for Ankalaev and was replaced by the UFC with Blachowicz.

It’s an opportunity to capture the title and both fighters are focused on Saturday night at the T-Mobile Arena.

On paper, the No. 3 Blachowicz (29-9-0),39, has the championship experience advantage. As the former champion, he won the belt at UFC 253 over Dominick Reyes when it was vacated by Jon Jones. And he has an impressive win over former middleweight champion Israel Adesanya.

The only question is whether Blachowicz has made the adjustment from that subpar performance against Teixeira at UFC 267 that cost him the title. The follow-up win over Aleksandar Rakic ended prematurely when Rakic suffered a knee injury. So, this fight will truly show his improvements.

Ankalaev (17-1-0), 30, the No. 4 seed, has come up the right way in the division. After that heartbreaking last-second submission loss to Paul Craig in 2018, Ankalaev fought his way through the division, racking up nine straight wins. He does not have the championship experience that Blachowicz has, but he has the next best thing in consistency. He has fought at least twice a year in the octagon since 2018.

I expect this fight to be a closely contested battle. Blachowicz needs to take some starch out of Ankalaev by using his power and keep Ankalaev on the defensive on the mat. Ankalaev needs to capitalize on his counter-striking and grappling strengths to wear down Jan.

The winner will have to deal with Teixeira and then Prochazka, eventually. That’s not a bad thing.

Enjoy the fights.

In the Clinch: Blachowicz & Ankalaev Go for Light Heavyweight Title, UFC 282 – More Resources

Jan Blachowicz

Magomed Ankalaev

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Jan Blachowicz

Magomed Ankalaev

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