The
Ultimate Fighting Championship
’s lightweight throne remains
unclaimed.

Jan
Blachowicz
and Magomed
Ankalaev
battled to a split draw in the
UFC 282
headliner on Saturday at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas,
leaving the 205-pound penthouse vacant in wake of former champion
Jiri
Prochazka
’s reign-ending shoulder injury. Judge Michael Bell
cast a 48-47 scorecard for Blachowicz, while Derek Cleary saw it
48-46 for Ankalaev and Sal D’Amato scored it 47-47.



Ankalaev (17-1-1, 9-1-1 UFC) set the tone early with crisp punching
combinations and punishing front kicks to the body. Blachowicz
(29-9-1, 12-6-1 UFC) answered by shifting gears and blowing out the
Xtreme Couture rep’s base with vicious kicks to the lower leg. They
eventually hobbled Ankalaev to such a degree that he was forced to
switch stances. He made the necessary tactical adjustments in the
fourth and fifth rounds, where he crowded Blachowicz with pressure,
executed multiple takedowns and chipped away with substantial
ground-and-pound, all while piling up copious amounts of control
time. Ankalaev rose to his feet after Round 5, convinced he had
done enough, then left the cage in disgust moments later.

Fortunate Pimblett Escapes Gordon

Former Cage Warriors Fighting Championship titleholder Paddy
Pimblett
passed his stiffest test to date inside the Octagon,
albeit not in convincing fashion, as he laid claim to a contentious
unanimous decision over Jared
Gordon
in the three-round lightweight co-main event. All three
judges—Douglas Crosby, Chris Lee and Ron McCarthy—struck 29-28
scorecards for Pimblett (20-3, 4-0 UFC).

Gordon (19-6, 7-5 UFC) did not shy away from the considerable hype
surrounding his charismatic counterpart. The Sanford MMA rep
blasted Pimblett with left hooks throughout the fight, attacked his
lead leg with sharp kicks and crowded him in the clinch. It was not
enough to spring the upset. Pimblett performed well in open space,
where he let fly with sweeping hooks and leg kicks of his own.
Gordon chewed up clock with his commitment to the clinch in the
third round but allowed the Next Generation MMA star to break free
late in the period and eventually attach himself to the back.

Pimblett, 27, will ride a six-fight winning streak into his next
assignment.

Ponzinibbio Freezes Replacement Morono

“The Ultimate Fighter Brazil” Season 2 semifinalist Santiago
Ponzinibbio
put away Alex Morono
with punches in the third round of their catchweight feature at 180
pounds. A short-notice replacement for Robbie
Lawler
, Morono (22-8, 11-5 UFC) met his end 2:29 into Round
3.



Ponzinibbio (29-6, 11-5 UFC) focused his efforts on the body and
lead leg but struggled to string together meaningful offense
through the first 10 minutes. Morono scored with clean one-twos,
body kicks and well-hidden overhand rights. Ponzinibbio picked up
his pace in Round 3, then turned the tide in a blink with a
devastating right cross. The impact froze Morono where he stood and
reduced him to little more than a sitting duck, as his American Top
Team-trained counterpart hurdled toward him. Ponzinibbio uncorked
another right hand behind the ear, dropped the former Legacy
Fighting Championship titleholder at the base of the cage and
finished him there.

The setback snapped Morono’s run of consecutive wins at four.

Du Plessis Face Crank Subdues Till

Former KSW champion Dricus Du
Plessis
dismissed Darren Till
with a face crank in the third round of their middleweight
showcase. In a downward spiral and winless since Nov. 2, 2019, Till
(18-5-1, 7-4-1 UFC) conceded defeat 2:43 into Round 3.

Du Plessis (18-2, 4-0 UFC) administered a hellacious beating for
much of the first round, as he executed multiple takedowns, cut
loose with ground-and-pound and assaulted the Team Kaobon rep in
the clinch. Till survived but emerged for the middle stanza with
significant damage to his left eye. Nevertheless, he managed to
rally on the fatiguing Du Plessis, piecing together clean one-twos
with knee strikes and the occasional close-range elbow. Till lost
his way again in the third. Du Plessis struck for a takedown, moved
immediately to full mount and let his hands go. Till then turned
away from contact, leaving himself vulnerable to the fight-ending
crank.

Till has lost five of his past six bouts.

Unbeaten Topuria Throttles Mitchell

Ilia
Topuria
took out “The Ultimate Fighter” Season 27 semifinalist
Bryce
Mitchell
with an arm-triangle in the second round of their
featured featherweight attraction. An emerging force at 145 pounds,
the undefeated Topuria (13-0, 5-0 UFC) closed the show 3:10 into
Round 2.

Mitchell (15-1, 6-1 UFC) was outclassed in all phases. Topuria
stung the Barata MMA export with high-velocity punching
combinations and cut off all but one of his attempted takedowns
with an effective sprawl. He ripped right hands with ill intent,
opening a vertical cut on Mitchell’s left brow. Topuria poured on
the punishment in the second round, powered into top position after
denying another takedown and cinched the arm-triangle with
surprisingly little resistance.

The 25-year-old Topuria now sports 12 finishes among his 13 career
victories.

Continue Reading »
UFC 282 Prelims: Jairzinho Rozenstruik Mauls Chris Daukaus





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Jan Blachowicz, Magomed Ankalaev Saddled with Split Draw in UFC 282 Headliner