Controversy reigned in the T-Mobile Arena as two controversial judging calls brought an anticlimactic end to an otherwise spectacular night at UFC 282 in Las Vegas.
With the first 10 fights on the card all producing finishes, the judges weren’t called into action until the final two bouts of the night, and on both occasions, the scorers returned verdicts that were widely criticized.
The main event saw a battle for the vacant light heavyweight title as Jan Blachowicz took on Magomed Ankalaev, but neither man walked away with the title after the bout was scored a split draw.
The longer-than-usual wait for the scores to be announced was a hint that things might not be straightforward, and as the scores were announced by Bruce Buffer, the crowd – and both fighters – were left stunned when the official scorecards were read.
The bout, which formed the main event at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, started well for Ankalaev, who edged the striking exchanges through the opening five minutes. But things turned in Blachowicz’s favor in Rounds 2 and 3, as the Pole’s thumping calf kicks started to take effect.
Blachowicz’s attack on Ankalaev’s legs had the Russian in clear trouble as he continually switched stances to give each leg respite from the Pole’s chopping kicks. But things swung back in Ankalaev’s favor in the championship rounds as he turned to his wrestling to excellent effect to put Blachowicz on his back for long spells as he closed out the fight on top.
It appeared a relatively straightforward call, but the scores of 48-47 (Blachowicz), 48-46 (Ankalaev), 47-47 meant that neither man left the octagon with the light heavyweight title, which remains vacant.
Pimblett continues win streak with controversial decision
There was controversy in the co-main event, too, as England’s Paddy Pimblett continued his rise in the UFC’s lightweight division with a unanimous decision victory over Jared Gordon. But the Liverpudlian certainly didn’t have things all his own way in a fight that many observers believed should have been awarded to Gordon.
The first and second rounds were spent largely on the feet, with Pimblett the aggressor, pushing forward with a mixture of straight punches and jumping kicks. But it was Gordon whose work looked cleaner, and the American repeatedly connected flush on the Englishman as he showed that he was levels above Pimblett’s previous opponents in the stand-up department.
After two well-contested rounds, Gordon turned to his wrestling in the third frame and spent much of the final five minutes forcing Pimblett against the fence, either in the clinch, or attempting to take him to the canvas. He was eventually successful, but Pimblett managed to escape before taking Gordon’s back in the final seconds. But there wasn’t enough time for Pimblett to find a submission as the clock ran out.
The pro-Pimblett crowd inside the T-Mobile Arena roared its approval as “Paddy The Baddy” was announced the unanimous decision winner, with all three judges scoring the bout 29-28 in his favor. But many media members and UFC fighters online saw the result differently, claiming Gordon should have taken the victory.
Ultimately, it was a fourth straight win for Pimblett inside the Octagon, as he extended his overall win streak to six.
Ponzinibbio produces stunning comeback
Argentina’s Santiago Ponzinibbio delivered a stunning third-round comeback to finish Alex Morono and claim a last-gasp TKO victory.
Ponzinibbio was facing short-notice opponent Morono at a 180-pound catchweight, and down two rounds heading into the final frame after struggling to deal with “The Great White’s” unorthodox striking style.
But, spurred on by his corner, Ponzinibbio emerged for the final round and went for the finish. A big right hand dropped Morono, then some follow-up shots finished the job as a fired-up Ponzinibbio claimed the come-from-behind win in dramatic fashion.
Du Plessis finishes Till after back-and-forth war
The middleweight bout between Dricus Du Plessis and Darren Till produced a rollercoaster of a bout as the momentum shifted one way, then the other, before Du Plessis finally closed the show with a third-round rear-naked choke.
The South African started fast and pinned Till against the fence before hammering the Brit with a succession of big punches. Despite not fighting his way free, Till did enough to ensure the fight wasn’t stopped as Du Plessis continued his first-round onslaught. Eventually, his pace started to slow, then Till came to life. He turned the tables on his opponent and finished the round on top, raining down shots of his own.
The second round saw Till take charge as a clearly gassed Du Plessis struggled to keep pace with the Englishman’s rapid strikes as “The Gorilla” took a strong foothold in the fight.
It meant the bout was in the balance heading into the third round. But, despite Till appearing to have the momentum at the start of the round, it was Du Plessis who found the finish when he took Till to the mat and landed in mount before eventually locking up a rear-naked choke to force the tap at the 2:43 mark.
Topuria delivers statement by finishing Mitchell
Undefeated Ilia Topuria continued his rise up the UFC featherweight division with arguably his most complete performance in the Octagon to date.
Topuria shut down Bryce Mitchell’s vaunted grappling, then lit up his opponent on the feet as he took Mitchell to places “Thugnasty” hadn’t experienced too often in his UFC career to date.
Then, to underline his top-tier talent, Topuria then showcased his own grappling skills by taking Mitchell to the mat and locking up an arm-triangle choke to claim his 13th career victory. Of those wins, only his short-notice Octagon debut victory over Youssef Zalal required the judges’ scorecards.
Rosas makes big first impression
Eighteen-year-old bantamweight Raul Rosas Jr. stepped into the featured preliminary bout spotlight and delivered in impressive fashion with a first-round submission victory over Jay Perrin.
Rosas Jr., who earned his spot in the UFC by winning a contract on Dana White’s Contender Series, arrived in the arena to a huge pop from the Las Vegas crowd. But, despite the big stage and the bright lights, the teenager showed no nerves whatsoever as he swiftly took Perrin’s back and, after a few attempts, locked up a rear-naked choke to force the tap at 2:44 mark to crown his Octagon debut in fine style.
Curtis flattens Buckley
The televised prelims kicked off with a bang, as Chris Curtis produced a huge knockout to finish Joaquin Buckley in their middleweight bout.
Buckley started well, and edged the first round with his superior volume as he moved in and out of striking range and connected with solid shots. But Curtis gave a few indications of what was to come with a few sharp counters along the way.
That finish came to fruition in the second round, when Curtis caught a Buckley body kick, then exploded with a huge left hand that dropped “New Mansa” hard to the canvas. A couple of huge follow-up punches made absolutely sure, as Curtis scored a big knockout win to get back to winning ways after his short-notice decision defeat to Jack Hermansson in London back in July.
Curtis has now won nine of his last 10 fights, with seven of them coming via KO/TKO.
The run of consecutive finishes continued with Edmen Shahbazyan’s second-round TKO of Dalcha Lungiambula, before “Bigi Boy” Jairzinho Rozenstruik did a 23-second demolition job on Chris Daukaus in their heavyweight clash.
Billy Q wins bloody war
The early prelims saw a trio of finishes, led by a stunning finish from Billy Quarantillo, who blasted his way to a second-round TKO of Alexander Hernandez with a blistering salvo of punches.
Hernandez held the upper hand through the opening round, and sent Quarantillo back to his corner with a nasty cut above his left eye after scoring with a big elbow.
But “Billy Q” showed his fighting spirit as he came storming back in Round 2 and, after gradually breaking down Hernandez with punches, Quarantillo scored the finish after a lengthy sequence of unanswered shots that prompted referee Chris Tognioni to step in.
That finish was joined by an arm-triangle choke from TJ Brown to defeat Erik Silva, and another TKO, as South Africa’s Cameron Saaiman extended his undefeated record with victory on his UFC debut, then called for an opportunity to fight in London, at UFC 286.
UFC 282: Official Results
- Jan Blachowicz vs. Magomed Ankalaev scored a split draw (48-47, 46-48, 47-47) –for vacant light heavyweight title
- Paddy Pimblett def. Jared Gordon via unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28)
- Santiago Ponzinibbio def. Alex Morono TKO (punches) – Round 3, 2:29
- Dricus Du Plessis def. Darren Till via submission (rear-naked choke) – Round 3, 2:43
- Ilia Topuria def. Bryce Mitchell via submission (arm-triangle choke) – Round 2, 3:10
- Raul Rosas Jr. def. Jay Perrin via submission (rear-naked choke) – Round 1, 2:44
- Jairzinho Rozenstruik def. Chris Daukaus via knockout (punches) – Round 1, 0:23
- Edmen Shahbazyan vs. Dalcha Lungiambula TKO (flying knee and punches) – Round 2, 4:41
- Chris Curtis def. Joaquin Buckley via knockout (punches) – Round 2, 2:49
- Billy Quarantillo def. Alexander Hernandez via TKO (punches) – Round 2, 4:30
- TJ Brown def. Erik Silva (arm-triangle choke) – Round 3, 3:41
- Cameron Saaiman def. Steven Koslow via TKO (knees and punches) – Round 3, 4:14