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Dec 8, 2022 2:02 am

UFC light heavyweight title at stake after last-minute shift

The sort of makeshift main event that can be put together only on the fly by the UFC will headline the promotion’s final pay-per-view event of 2022 on Saturday night in Las Vegas.

Capping UFC 282 will be a bout to fill the vacant light heavyweight championship, as former titleholder Jan Blachowicz (29-9) of Poland takes on fast-rising Dagestani standout Magomed Ankalaev (18-1).

The Saturday event originally was scheduled to be headlined by Jiri Prochazka of the Czech Republic, defending the title against the man from whom he won it, Glover Teixeira of Brazil, in a rematch of one of 2022’s best bouts. However, Prochazka suffered a severe shoulder injury in training two weeks before the fight.

The ailment is expected to keep Prochazka out at least a year, and he voluntarily relinquished the belt rather than hold up the division.

The UFC sought to set up Ankalaev vs. Teixeira, but the latter balked at the change of opponent on short notice and declined, so the promotion instead went with Blachowicz, whom Teixeira defeated to win the title last year.

So the UFC ends up with a main event that features a pair of heavy hitters. Ankalaev, 30, is on a sizzling nine-fight winning streak. Blachowicz, nine years his elder, defeated Aleksandar Rakic in his bounce-back fight in May after losing the title, giving him six wins in his past seven bouts.

For his part, Ankalaev expects the bout to be a scrap.

“I can’t say anything bad about Blachowicz as an opponent,” Ankalaev said Wednesday. “He’s a great fighter. He’s a great guy. But the thing is, this fight is my dream. This is my opportunity. I will do whatever I have to do to make sure I come out of that octagon with the title.”

Blachowicz, of course, believes the bout will go the other way, but made it clear the respect is mutual.

“He’s good, very good,” Blachowicz said. “At this level, though, that’s no surprise. When you are fighting for the title or close to title contention, you know the kinds of fights you’re going to get.”

–Field Level Media

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