The UFC light heavyweight title will be up for grabs this weekend — even without the participants who were originally scheduled to battle for the gold.
Former champion Jan Blachowicz will take on Magomed Ankalaev in the main event of UFC 282 on Saturday in Las Vegas. The winner will take home the vacant UFC 205-pound title. Jiri Prochazka gave up the belt because of a shoulder injury and his scheduled challenger (and former champ) Glover Teixeira is likely next in line for the Blachowicz vs. Ankalaev winner.
Blachowicz and Ankalaev were supposed to fight in the co-main event in a title eliminator, but now they will compete in a five-round fight for the title.
Blachowicz (29-9) has won six of his past seven fights. The Polish fighter’s only loss during that time came against Teixeira, who beat Blachowicz for the title at UFC 267 in October 2021. Blachowicz, 39, knocked out Dominick Reyes to win the title at UFC 253 in September 2020 and then successfully defend it against Israel Adesanya at UFC 259 in March 2021.
Ankalaev (18-1) has won nine in a row. The Dagestan-born fighter is coming off a second-round TKO of Anthony Smith at UFC 277 in July. Ankalaev, 30, has just one UFC loss, in his debut fight against Paul Craig in 2018, a bout in which he was winning until Craig caught him in a triangle choke with one second left in the fight.
In the co-main event, fan favorite Paddy Pimblett will face Jared Gordon in a lightweight matchup. Pimblett (19-3) has won five in a row overall, including his first three in the UFC. The 27-year-old England native is a former Cage Warriors featherweight champion. Gordon (19-5), a 34-year-old New York native, has won four of his past five fights.
Also on the card, Darren Till returns to face Dricus Du Plessis in a middleweight contest.
Follow along as Brett Okamoto, Marc Raimondi and Jeff Wagenheim recap all the action or watch the fights live on ESPN+ PPV.
Fight in progress: Men’s featherweight: Bryce Mitchell (15-1, 6-0 UFC, +115) vs. Ilia Topuria (12-0, 4-0 UFC, -135)
UFC 282 results
Men’s bantamweight: Raul Rosas Jr. (7-0, 1-0 UFC) def. Jay Perrin (10-7, 0-3 UFC) by submission (Watch this fight on ESPN+)
The fighting future of 18-year-old Rosas began with two records: First, he became the youngest fighter to compete in the UFC, then he became the youngest to win inside the Octagon.
Rosas made it look easy. He got the fight to the canvas within the first minute, immediately seizing back control, which he maintained before eliciting the tapout from Perrin via rear-naked choke at 2:44 of Round 1. Then the undefeated Rosas showed a veteran’s poise in his postfight interview, saying, “Dana! Fifty g’s!” He was calling for a bonus from UFC p[resident Dana White “so I can buy my mother a minivan and she can give me a ride to the [UFC Performance Institute].”
How young is Rosas? When he was born on Oct. 18, 2004, Robbie Lawler, who was scheduled to compete on this card before an injury sidelined him, was already six fights into his UFC career.
Perrin, a 29-year-old from Lowell, Massachusetts, has lost all three of his UFC fights, and his record dropped to 10-7.
Heavyweight: Jairzinho Rozenstruik (13-4, 7-4 UFC) def. Chris Daukaus (12-6, 4-3 UFC) by knockout (Watch this fight on ESPN+)
It had been more than a year since Rozenstruik added a knockout win to his resume. That streak ended emphatically on Saturday.
Rozenstruik, 34, blitzed Daukaus from the opening bell and put him away in just 23 seconds. He hurt Daukaus immediately with a jab, left hook and jumping knee. Another right hand put him on the canvas and the bout was waved off. It was a throwback to the 2019 version of Rozenstruik, who finished three consecutive opponents in under a minute.
Daukaus, of Philadelphia, has had a very tough run as of late. After starting his UFC career on a four-fight win streak, Daukaus has now suffered three straight knockout losses. Rozenstruik snaps a two-fight skid with the win.
Middleweight: Edmen Shahbazyan (12-3, 5-3 UFC) def. Dalcha Lungiambula (11-6, 2-5 UFC) by TKO (Watch this fight on ESPN+)
Edmen Shahbazyan finishes opponent Dalcha Lungiambula in front of a hyped Vegas crowd.
Shahbazyan was once one of the top prospects on the UFC roster, the protégé of Ronda Rousey on a trajectory toward a championship.
The last two years haven’t been so kind to him. But changes — more than a year off, a new gym and a new manager — seem to have pointed Shahbazyan in the right direction. He picked up a TKO victory over Lungiambula at 4:41 of the second round with a sharp display of striking.
“I’m glad I took that time off to improve,” Shahbazyan said. “I moved to Vegas. I guess I’m Vegas Edmen now.”
Shahbazyan left Glendale Fighting Club for Xtreme Couture in Las Vegas and now has Ali Abdelaziz of Dominance MMA as his manager. He had not fought since November 2021. Shahbazyan started a flurry with a knee that hurt Lungiambula, and a right hand put the opponent down. Some swarming ground and pound finished things.
Shahbazyan, still just 25 years old, snapped a three-fight losing streak with the win. The California native went 4-0 with three finishes to start his UFC run. Lungiambula, a 35-year-old Congo-born fighter, has dropped four straight and five of six.
Middleweight: Chris Curtis (30-9, 4-1 UFC) def. Joaquin Buckley (15-6, 5-4 UFC) by knockout (Watch this fight on ESPN+)
Chris Curtis knocks out Joaquin Buckley in Round 2 of their fight in Las Vegas.
Curtis is known as “The Action Man,” but for a round and a half, it was Buckley who was bringing the action. Though Curtis was the more accurate striker and was well-guarded by his defense, Buckley’s buzzsaw of aggression was leading the dance.
Curtis pivoted and went to his bread and butter, counterpunching, and instantly turned the tide. The 35-year-old from Las Vegas caught a Buckley kick and, while holding the leg with his right hand, unloaded a straight left hand that dropped his opponent, leading to a KO on the canvas at 2:49 of Round 2.
The win got Curtis back on track after his eight-fight winning streak snapped in July. Buckley, who is 28 and from St. Louis, has lost two in a row.
Men’s featherweight: Billy Quarantillo (16-5, 5-2 UFC) def. Alexander Hernandez (13-6, 5-5 UFC) by TKO (Watch this fight on ESPN+)
Billy Quarantillo finishes Alexander Hernandez in the second round of their prelim fight at UFC 282.
The man they refer to as ‘Billy Q’ is known for an entertaining style, and that was once again the case in a second-round finish.
Quarantillo, of New York, finished Hernandez at the 4:30 mark with standing strikes against the fence. The finish came after Quarantillo stuffed multiple takedown attempts by Hernandez, and made him pay for the failed effort with knees to the body.
As Hernandez started to fatigue from the body shots, Qurantillo looked to pour it on the feet. In an extended sequence, he caught Hernandez with an uppercut, a Superman punch, and a flurry along the fence. Hernandez tried to survive and fire back, but eventually, the volume accumulated to the point it had to be stopped.
Quarantillo, 34, overcame a challenging first round in which Hernandez opened a deep cut over his left eye with elbows. His wrestling defense was a key in turning the tide and he’s now won five of his seven UFC appearances.
Men’s featherweight: TJ Brown (17-9, 3-3 UFC) def. Erik Silva (9-2, 0-1 UFC) by submission (Watch this fight on ESPN+)
T.J. Brown defeats Erik Silva via arm triangle in Round 3 to excite the crowd at UFC 282.
Brown had some camp chaos coming into UFC 282, but he didn’t let it affect his performance. Near the end of a back-and-forth fight, Brown was able to get into top position, shift to an arm-triangle choke and force Silva to tap at 3:41 of the third round. Brown had been training with James Krause at Glory MMA in Missouri, but the UFC has banned Krause amid a betting investigation and fighters have been told to disassociate with him or they cannot participate in UFC events. Krause was not in Brown’s corner.
Brown wobbled Silva with a right hand immediately to start the bout. The two exchanged big shots and scrambles throughout the bout. But Brown was able to get into a superior position on top and move to the submission.
Brown, 32, has won three of his last four fights. The Arkansas native is Dana White’s Contender Series alum. Silva, a 35-year-old Venezuelan-born fighter who trains out of Costa Rica, was making his UFC debut after earning a contract on Contender Series.
Men’s bantamweight: Cameron Saaiman (7-0, 1-0 UFC) def. Steven Koslow (6-1, 0-1 UFC) by TKO (Watch this fight on ESPN+)
Two undefeated 135-pounders opened the night with a fight that did what grappling-heavy bouts seldom do: elicit cheers rather than boos from just-brawl-for-us MMA fans. But after the fighters traded advantages on the mat in entertaining scrambles for much of the fight, the crowd ended up getting what it came for, when Saaiman hurt Koslow with a flurry on the feet in the third round and got the TKO at 4:13.
For Saaiman, a 21-year-old from South Africa, it was his UFC debut. He has scored finishes in six of his seven wins.
Still to come:
Light heavyweight championship: Jan Blachowicz (29-9, 12-6 UFC, +220) vs. Magomed Ankalaev (18-1, 9-1 UFC, -270)
Lightweight: Paddy Pimblett (19-3, 3-0 UFC, -240) vs. Jared Gordon (19-5, 7-4 UFC, +200)
Catchweight (180 pounds): Santiago Ponzinibbio (29-6, 10-5 UFC) vs. Alex Morono (22-7 1 NC, 11-4 1 NC UFC)
Middleweight: Darren Till (18-4-1, 6-4-1 UFC, +160) vs. Dricus du Plessis (17-2, 3-0 UFC, -190)