UFC 282 – Overview
The year draws to a close, and MMA fans get an early Christmas present. Legendary Polish power and Dagestani stoicism face off on the world stage of fighting, in the wake of the tragic events that stole our original main event.
The light-heavyweight belt is up for grabs again, Jan Blachowicz gets a second opportunity to claim gold, and Magomed Ankalaev assuredly achieves what many consider to be his destiny.
Dropping the formality; UFC 282 is an underrated banger. The card is littered top to bottom with all-action matchups. The UFC matchmakers know what we want and they’ve refined their decision-making into a fine art. Lets take a deep dive and see if we can understand some of these matchups.
Use the table of contents above to skip to certain predictions
Top 3 Picks of the Night 👑👑👑
- Alexander Hernandez to defeat Billy Quarantillo
- Edmen Shahbazyan to defeat Dalcha Lungiambula
- Magomed Ankalaev to defeat Jan Blachowicz
Locks of the Night 🔒
- Edmen Shahbazyan
- Raul Rosas Jr.
- Paddy Pimblett
- Magomed Ankalaev
UFC 282 – In-depth Analysis & Predictions
UFC 282 Early Prelims
Cameron Saaiman vs Steven Koslow – Analysis & Prediction
Our opening prelim pairs a striker with a grappler. Both 6-0, Cameron Saaiman sports 4KO/TKO, 1 SUB, and 1 DEC win, and Steven Koslow has won 100% of his fights by submission. Normally in MMA, the safest bet is to choose the better grappler, but since these are two relatively unknown fighters, it’s worth looking at their backgrounds.
Saaiman hails from EFC (Extreme Fighting Championships), and is a promotional champion. He earned his shot in the UFC with a knockout on DWCS. Albeit undefeated, Saaiman suffers from a lack of quality opposition, a great majority of his victories are over opponents with even or losing records. This casts some doubt over the legitimacy of his undefeated streak.
Koslow debuts after dominating Combat Night, all of his victories come by way of submission in the first round. The quality of his resumé is also lacking, against opponents with even or losing records.
Koslow is more of a pressure striker, throwing arm punches and reactive feints in order to secure takedowns, which is where he works his magic. Saaiman is much more snappy, bouncy on his feet, and he strikes from the outside. Though I worry about him dropping his hands constantly, expect Saaiman to let his hands go if he has Koslow against the fence. If he can defend reactive takedowns then it should be a relatively easy victory for Saaiman on the feet, but you can never underestimate that 10th Planet BJJ.
Another thing: Steven Koslow is a short notice replacement against Cameron Saaiman. Cardio from quick weight cutting and an unpreparedness for his opponent could come into play. The safest option here is the highly touted Saaiman to win either by KO/TKO or UD.
The Fight Fanatic pick – Cameron Saaiman KO/TKO or UD
Vinicius Salvador vs Daniel da Silva – Analysis & Prediction
This reads a bit like a ‘gimme’ fight for Vinicius Salvador. Neither man has won by decision, both with 100% finish rates. However, Salvador is riding a 4 fight win streak, and Daniel da Silva needs to recover from a 3 fight losing streak.
Salvador has 14 finishes, 13KO/TKO, 1 SUB. Silva evens it out with 6KO/TKO and 6 SUB victories.
It’s worth noting that Silva’s 3 UFC defeats have come against pretty legitimate opposition, in Victor Altamirano, Francisco Figueiredo, and Jeff Molina. Silva is insanely quick and athletic, he throws caution to the wind, utilising spinning techniques and off-rhythm strikes to catch his opponents off guard. Distraction techniques are a large part of Silva’s gameplan, he’ll drop his hands, bait and switch, or try other methods of taking his opponent’s attention away from quick stabbing front kicks or head kicks.
Although competent with these techniques, they do constitute as lazy, in a way that he’ll kick without setting it up and keeps his hands down. It’s exactly Jeff Molina capitalised on, simply by throwing a straight right down the pipe as Silva threw a lazy leg kick.
Salvador is a crafty southpaw who hunts for the counter-left. He may miss, but he’ll turn the torque from the miss into a left side kick, or even some crazy capoeira kick. Whilst very talented and dangerous, Salvador exhibits some major weaknesses in his game. For one, he never has his hands by his face, two, he throws punches from the hips. This sort of style shouldn’t work at the top level of MMA
It’s because of these flaws that I’ll give Silva the edge on the feet. He’s a sharp striker and should capitalise on Salvador’s tendency to leave his chin hanging. The southpaw stance should lend itself to Silva’s penchant for left side head kicks too.
At the end of the day, we’re going to see two crazy strikers who love to hang their chin within striking range. It’s a coinflip fight, but I’ll give Silva the edge based on his grappling victories, quality of opposition (even in losses), and his crisp striking.
The Fight Fanatic pick – Daniel Silva by KO/TKO or UD
T.J Brown vs Erik Silva – Analysis & Prediction
Promising prospect Erik Silva takes on T.J Brown in our third preliminary bout. Brown has had a lackluster career in the UFC so far, going 2-3 in the promotion, both wins against sub-par opposition. Silva on the other hand is riding an 8 fight win streak and 6 fight finishing streak.
Looks can be deceiving, whilst Erik Silva has the head and face of a 40 year-old postman, his physicality and aggression allow him to storm his opponents. He utilises chopping low kicks to cut off circling opponents, and lunges straight down the center line with mean intentions. He’s a great striker, and a very decent, mauling grappler to boot. Cardio is also on his side and most would struggle to keep up with his frenetic pace.
Where T.J. Brown faulters in this matchup is his wide stance and his tendency to drop his guard hand when overreaching for shots. Silva is going to have a field day chopping down that lead leg and popping shots over that dropped guard. T.J. is still dangerous, it’s a close fight.
The Fight Fanatic pick – Erik Silva KO/TKO
Billy Quarantillo vs Alexander Hernandez – Analysis & Prediction
Our featured (early)prelim. Without a doubt in my mind this is one of the best fights on the entire card. Pressure boxer Billy Quarantillo takes on the formerly highly touted Alexander Hernandez.
Quarantillo is a durable boxer-style fighter who relies a lot on dipping techniques. He’ll mix things up, dipping to the body with jabs to the stomach, or feinting the dip into flying knees or overhand rights. He’s also fond of turning the overhand right into a collar tie in which he’ll fling uppercuts at his opponents face with reckless abandon. It’s a rudimentary technique, but quite successful even at the highest levels in the sport (see Daniel Cormier for example).
When fighting Quarantillo, it’s important to punish him for leaning his unprotected head to the side when he dips, or by slamming his defenseless lead leg with kicks. See, when Quarantillo leans the way he does, he can’t defend effectively since all the weight is on his rear leg. Does Alexander Hernandez have the tools to punish Quarantillo?
Quarantillo’s style of striking is Diaz-esque in the way shots are loose and come from the shoulders. It’s effective and cardio conservative, but the drawback is that a crisp, straight shot from A to B often beats it to the ‘punch’. Straight, purist punches are what Hernandez does best. It’s what he knocked Beneil Dariush out with, and what he also smashed Mike Breeden with last October.
I firmly believe Quarantillo is a game opponent, but Hernandez should be quicker and stronger, and he should beat him to the punch. Not only this, but Hernandez also appears to be the physically larger specimen on fight night, even if he is an inch shorter. This may benefit him in grappling exchanges and muscling Quarantillo around the octagon. Quarantillo’s war with Burgos also comes into play, will he have the same tenacity this weekend? We’ll find out.
The Fight Fanatic pick – Hernandez by KO/TKO or UD
UFC 282 Prelims
Joaquin Buckley vs Chris Curtis – Analysis & Prediction
Kicking off our prelims is a certified banger between ‘The Action Man’ Chris Curtis, and heavy-handed Joaquin Buckley.
Let’s look at their last fights. Curtis is coming off of a loss to Jack Hermansson, he was outstruck and outworked thoroughly for the full 3 rounds. Buckley is also returning from a loss versus Nassourdine Imavov, which was a fight everyone thought Imavov would dominate, but it ended up being very competitive in the later rounds.
Buckley is a movement oriented power striker who uses shifting/dipping footwork to close the distance on (typically) taller opponents. He favours his boxing, and often targets the body in order to attack the head. Curtis on the other hand prefers to stand tall, and uses crisp, strong boxing to piece his opponents up.
Both men are southpaws, but I believe this benefits Curtis more. When Buckley dips on his entries, more often than not he comes flying out on the opponent’s left side. For Curtis, this’ll be his power side, for kicks, hooks, uppercuts, or knees.
Curtis will have to play the patient fight, as Buckley is an agile bull, but with Curtis’ wealth of experience he should be able to secure a decision, maybe even a finish by using Buckley’s habits against him. Buckley can never be counted out though, he showed insane heart against Imavov, and it only takes one good exchange to swing the fight in his favour.
The Fight Fanatic pick – Chris Curtis by UD
Edmen Shahbazyan vs Dalcha Lungiambula – Analysis & Prediction
‘The Golden Boy’ is back, and boy he doesn’t get any breaks does he? Edmen Shahbazyan returns after 3 straight losses to killer opposition. This time, he butts heads with South African unit Dalcha Lungiambula, who is also looking to recover from 3 straight losses.
To me, this is straight forward. Edmen is the full package. Standing at 6’2, he has a considerable height advantage, and it’ll benefit him in more ways than one. He’ll be able to pick apart the plodding Lungiambula from range, and work him even harder on the ground. It’s a major step down in opposition for Edmen, and on paper he should run through Dalcha with no issue.
Factor in the fact that Dalcha is on the wrong side of 30, and he’s just been viciously finished, it seems like the UFC are giving Edmen the platform for recovery.
The Fight Fanatic pick – Edmen Shahbazyan by FINISH
Raul Rosas Jr. vs Jay Perrin – Analysis & Prediction
There’s a new kid on the block, literally. Raul Rosas Jr. has picked up a lot of hype for being one of the youngest fighters on the UFC roster at 18. He’s also undefeated, gifted and athletic.
Rosas Jr. is one of a host of fighters entering the UFC that like to set up explosive takedowns with big distracting movements like flying knees. It’s hard to avoid this style of takedown, you either defend the knee and lose your hips, or potentially have your face caved in by an actual knee. When the fight hits the floor, Rosas Jr. mauls opponents, hunting the submissions, and ultimately gathering control time.
Rosas Jr. leaves a lot to be desired on the feet, being oddly jittery and lacking refinement. It all boils down to how good Perrin is as a striker and whether he can defend the takedowns, but judging by his fight history, and the fact he’s looking past Rosas Jr. as a ‘child’, I don’t think he’ll have much to offer.
The Fight Fanatic pick – Raul Rosas Jr. by UD
Jairzinho Rozenstruik vs Chris Daukaus – Analysis & Prediction
There’s no safe prediction on a heavyweight fight. Especially between two kill-or-be-killed fighters like these. Both men are looking to recover from losses, but no losses are more brutal than Daukaus’ last two defeats at the hands of Curtis Blaydes and Derrick Lewis.
I think this narrative will come into play, wherein Daukaus becomes the cautious boxer after being so fiercely finished in his last two fights. If there’s one thing we know about Rozenstruik, is that he works best when his opponent plays at his own -slower- pace.
Whilst suffering back to back defeats, Rozenstruik still maintains that excellent defensive/reactive kickboxing, and he has lunchboxes for hands. Finally, an opponent (probably) won’t grapple with him, and he’ll be able to work that magic. I see Rozenstruik retiring Daukaus with another knockout loss.
The Fight Fanatic pick – Jairzinho Rozenstruik by KO/TKO
UFC 283 – Main Card
Bryce Mitchell vs Ilia Topuria – Analysis & Prediction
Into the meat of the card, and one of the most heavily anticipated matchups in recent memory. Grappling sensation Bryce Mitchell versus the electrifying Georgian Ilia Topuria.
I’ve heard Bryce Mitchell described as ‘the white Khabib’, which is funny to me considering how pale Khabib is. But, it is grounded in reality; Mitchell’s grappling is on another plane of existence. I want to refer back to our first prediction of the night, where I said the better grappler is usually the safest bet, and I don’t think there’s a truer case than this matchup between Mitchell and Topuria.
Ilia Topuria is incredibly well-rounded. He’s out-grappled and finished Ryan Hall, Damon Jackson, and Jai Herbert. If you factor in his grappling prowess and vicious striking, you’d assume he could deny Mitchell his gameplan and work him on the feet.
I said the same thing about BJJ black belt Charles Rosa, who Mitchell almost finished with a twister several times in their fight. I even said the same about Edson Barboza’s GOAT takedown defense, yet Mitchell outstruck him and mauled him on the ground. Now consider Jai Herbert the striker was able to escape bottom control from Topuria, and he was even working him on the feet.
I firmly believe Mitchell can secure the upset if Ilia doesn’t immediately knock him out. His grappling is too slick and too grueling, and he’s even developing well on the feet.
The Fight Fanatic pick – Bryce Mitchell by UD
Darren Till vs Dricus Du Plessis – Analysis & Prediction
The return of Liverpool’s Darren Till, as he fights his first 3 round fight since 2019. Till looks to derail the hype of South Africa’s Dricus Du Plessis, a serious contender at middleweight, with ridiculous finishing power in both hands.
Till is a crafty southpaw with a sniper-like left straight, most of his troubles have come from strong grapplers who put him down and keep him down. I’m seeing a lot of doubt cast around his return against a fierce opponent like Dricus, but many forget the war Till had with one of the p4p best in Robert Whittaker. Till at his best is trouble for anybody, Masvidal said he’s been hit the hardest by Till, and Whittaker was dropped with a nasty elbow in the first round of their fight.
I think the fight works in favour of Till, who rarely gets beaten to the punch. Dricus Du Plessis on the other hand prefers to take one to dish one out. Without a doubt Plessis has dynamite in his knuckles, but the reckless abandon he brings into fights, along with his open defense, is just asking to be chinned by a selective counter-striker like Till.
I’m going with the unpopular vote here and choosing Till to win by KO.
The Fight Fanatic pick – Darren Till by KO/TKO
Alex Morono vs Santiago Ponzinibbio – Analysis & Prediction
Alex Morono steps in on incredibly short notice against UFC veteran Santiago Ponzinibbio. Originally slated to fight the shadow of Robbie Lawler, Ponzinibbio is prepared to face a durable power puncher. Instead, he’ll be met with the ever-game, well-rounded Alex Morono.
This fight will take place at a catchweight of 180lbs, so Morono won’t face as many negatives from cutting weight as Ponzinibbio. Morono is the fitter fighter altogether and puts it together well with pressure striking and a very well-rounded ground game.
Ponzinibbio is an infamously slow starter too, he made it competitive with both Michel Pereira and Geoff Neal in the later rounds, but it was always too late. The concern here is that Ponzinibbio is getting slower by the fight, and Morono seems to have caught a second wind. Factor in Ponzinibbio’s over-reactiveness to big shots since that KO from the Leech, and you have a recipe for a Morono victory.
The Fight Fanatic pick – Alex Morono UD
Paddy Pimblett vs Jared Gordon – Analysis & Prediction
Our co-main. Pimblett finally fights a ‘name’ opponent, but he’s still cherry picked to be a good matchup (or is he?).
Jared Gordon is a good technical boxer, and Danaher BJJ brown belt (which is very, very good). With his only UFC losses to Diego Ferreira, Joaquim Silva, Charles Oliveira, and Grant Dawson, you could say the quality of his opposition is world-class. He just hasn’t been able to strike it big… yet.
This fight should boil down to who has the better striking, since many people forget that Pimblett is a grappler first and foremost. On paper Gordon is the better grappler with the Danaher credentials, but Pimblett did just twerk on a BJJ purple belt in Jordan Leavitt.
I’m going to go out on a limb and say that Pimblett, being the bigger man, styles on Gordon on the feet, and should avoid the ground for a UD victory. Gordon’s striking is more technically sound, but he lacks the pop on his punches, and his defense can be broken into with good power and large movements like flying knees.
Jan Blachowicz vs Magomed Ankalaev – Analysis & Prediction
Finally. The main event of the evening. The headlining fight is the one with the most foregone conclusion in my opinion. Magomed Ankalaev should have every possible advantage in this fight, as the superior striker, grappler, and mixed martial artist.
Jan Blachowicz has struggled massively with offensive grappling. Fortunately, he’s been gifted opposition that likes to stand and strike, such as Dominick Reyes, Israel Adesanya, or Corey Anderson. But in his fight with Glover Teixeira, he was controlled absolutely on the ground and had no options for escape. We saw shades of this performance in his lackluster affair with Jacaré back in 2019 where Blachowicz was held against the fence with no urgency for a majority of the fight.
Enter Magomed Ankalaev, master of sport in combat Sambo and international master of sport in amateur MMA. Ankalaev made a name for himself with his flawless kickboxing, before showing the world that he does in fact carry the patented Dagestani wrestling skills too.
Whilst Magomed has practically no offensive submission skills, he compensates for this with nasty ground and pound, and controlling top pressure. So whilst Blachowicz can usually save face by escaping being controlled or submitted, he’s going to have to deal with the strikes being rained down from above.
On paper, Ankalaev is the bigger man, the fitter man, he has the better striking, and the better grappling.
The Fight Fanatic pick – Ankalaev by UD
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