The Ultimate Fighting Championship returns with the long-awaited UFC 282 and the clash between Jan Blachowicz and Magomed Ankalaev for the light-heavyweight title. The belt was recently vacated by the current champion as he suffered an injury that will keep him away for at least 6 months. This means that the winner of this bout will be the new champion. Here are our predictions.
UFC 282: Blachowicz vs Ankalaev Predictions
Jan Blachowicz Preview
Jan is a 39-year-old American fighter. He began his professional career in 2007, before moving to the UFC he fought mainly in the Polish promotion KSW, where he became the light heavyweight champion in November 2011. After two successful title defenses, Blachowicz was invited to Dana White's organization.
The debut of the Pole in the UFC took place in October 2014 in a duel against Ilir Latifi, whom the newcomer knocked out in 2 minutes. Despite a confident start in the debut, the first 3 years of the fighter in the strongest league in the world turned out to be unsuccessful. Between 2015 and October 2017, Jan compiled a 1-4 record and was on the verge of being fired from the organization.
In October 2017, Blachowicz choked out Devin Clark in the 2nd round and gave out a series of 4 victories in a row in 1.5 years, defeating Jared Cannonier, Jimi Manuva, and Nikita Krylov.
In February 2019, the Pole entered the Candidates match against Thiago Santos and lost by knockout in the 3rd round. After the defeat, Blachowicz didn't give up and went on another three-fight winning streak in a year, defeating Luke Rockhold, Ronaldo Souza, and Corey Anderson.
The Pole was offered a title fight for the vacant light heavyweight champion belt by the organization's management. Jan's opponent was Dominic Reyes, who managed to challenge Jon Jones in a title fight and concede by unanimous decision. Due to the fact that the American forced a more or less equal fight on the dominant champion, analysts and MMA fans considered him the undisputed favorite in the fight against Blachowicz. However, in the octagon, the Pole showed that it was too early to write him off and knocked out his opponent in the 2nd round, becoming the light heavyweight champion.
After winning the title, Blachowicz went on to the loudest and most hyped fight of his career. The dominant middleweight champion Israel Adesanya decided to take the 2nd title and moved up in weight. In March 2021, Jan defeated Israel by a unanimous decision and made a successful first title defense.
Blachowicz is good at is kickboxing. He is distinguished by explosive combinations and knockout power, dangerous kicks, and decent work in the clinch. Jan's striking technique is somewhat non-standard, and he strikes with a slight delay. Because of this, the opponents block too early and miss the blows.
The athlete has a black belt in BJJ and is able to perform submissions from any position. 9 out of 28 victories he won with the help of submission techniques.
I note that Blachowicz has problems in fights against strong grapplers or wrestlers. In the period from 2015 to 2017, he received all his defeats mainly due to poor wrestling training. He was even controlled by Alexander Gustafsson, who is primarily a technical boxer, not a wrestler.
Jan's standing defense suffers. He sometimes forgets to raise his hands and can fly at an opponent with an open jaw, for which he paid with a knockout in the duel against Thiago Santos.
Magomed Ankalaev Preview
Magomed is a 30-year-old fighter from Russia. He made his UFC debut in August 2018 against Paul Craig. Magomed actively fought and won, but at the end he got into a triangle with his opponent and knocked 1 second before the end of the last round.
After that, Ankalaev did not lose. Since September 2018, he has gone on a streak of 8 victories in a row. Magomed's last fight was in March 2022. His opponent was Thiago Santos. Ankalaev won by unanimous decision.
Ankalaev is a very prudent sportsman. He does not try to crush the opponent from the first minutes of the fight, preferring to work at a distance in a wide stance. Thanks to this, he not only effectively defends himself but also suddenly explodes at a moment when the enemy does not expect it. I will note his excellent wrestling skills. He controls opponents well on the ground.
Blachowicz vs Ankalaev Prediction
Bookmakers consider Ankalaev the undisputed favorite of the upcoming fight and we feel the same thing. The Dagestan school of martial arts has long proved to the whole world that it is one of the best at the moment. Not so long ago, Islam Makhachev and Usman Nurmagomedov became champions. Now it's Ankalaev's time but it will not be a fast fight. Both fighters have had a bunch of full fights in recent years and we expect to see at least 3-4 rounds here too.