The vacant light heavyweight championship was on the line on Saturday when former champion Jan Blachowicz faces Magomed Ankalaev in the UFC 282 main event.
The two were careful in the early going respecting the danger that each man brings. Blachowicz landed leg kicks while Ankalaev looked to counter punch. Ankalaev delivered front kicks to the body while Blachowicz targeted Ankalaev’s lead leg.
They immediately started exchanging in the second frame. Blachowicz connected with a hard right hand but Ankalaev took it well. Blachowicz continued to deliver leg kicks and landed an uppercut in close quarters.
Midway through the round, Blachowicz got a big reaction out of Ankalaev after landing a leg kick. Blachowicz delivered another leg kick that nearly knocks Ankalaev down. Ankalaev quickly clinched. Blachowicz pushed Ankalaev away and Ankalaev switched stances. Blachowicz continued to target the lead leg. The round ended with Ankalaev clinching.
Ankalaev’s corner was spirited between rounds urging their fighter to take Blachowicz down. Blachowicz continued to dish out leg kicks. Ankalaev’s movement became compromised. Ankalaev stepped into the pocket with a clean right hand.
Ankalaev changed strategies
Ankalaev picked up the pace and began pressuring the former champion. Blachowicz’s leg kicks had both legs of Ankalaev on shaky ground. Ankalaev continued to take the fight to Blachowicz despite the leg damage. In the final seconds of the round, Ankalaev secured a takedown but didn’t have enough time to do much with it.
Ankalaev closed the distance and got to the clinch early in the fourth. Ankalaev delivered short punches to the body. Blachowicz circled free but Ankalaev powered forward and took Blachowicz down. Ankalaev took Blachowicz’ back with two minutes remaining in the round.
Blachowicz worked his way to half guard but was unable to get out from underneath Ankalaev. In the final moments of the round, Ankalaev stood and landed a right hand to the downed Blachowicz.
Ankalaev blitzed forward and got Blachowicz to the canvas to start the final frame. He peppered Blachowicz’s body with short punches. Ankalaev trapped one of Blachowicz’ hands and delivered left hands and elbows. Blachowicz got his arm free but Ankalaev continued to land. Blachowicz spent the entire round on his back.
After 25 minutes of fighting, the bout was ruled a split draw. The scorecards read 48–47, 46–48, and 47–47. The UFC light heavyweight championship remains vacant. It was the fifth draw in UFC championship bout history.
Before the scorecards were read, Blachowicz raised Ankalaev’s hand. When asked about if he thought he won the fight, Blachowicz said that he’d have to watch it again before saying that Ankalaev should be awarded the belt.
“I have to watch the fight, but for sure I don’t win the fight. I don’t know that I lost the fight, but for sure I’m not the winner. I’ll have to watch it over,” Blachowicz said. “I don’t feel that I’m the winner.”
Ankalaev was animated in his insistence that he won the fight and should be declared the champion.
“I don’t know what to say. I won that fight. Why didn’t I get my belt?” Ankalaev said. “I won this fight. I won this belt. Where is my belt?”
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