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Controversy rages after Russian star’s UFC title fight

Magomed Ankalaev was furious after missing out on the light heavyweight crown

Russia’s Magomed Ankalaev was denied the UFC light heavyweight title in contentious circumstances after his main event contest against Poland’s Jan Blachowicz at UFC 282 in Las Vegas ended in a split decision draw.

Dagestani fighter Ankalaev appeared to have edged the fight against former champion Blachowicz as the pair faced off for the vacant 205lbs title.

After the fight, the Pole already appeared to concede defeat to Ankalaev in anticipation that the Russian would get the decision from the judges.  

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But the scorecards caused shock as judge Mike Bell awarded the contest 48-47 to Blachowicz, while counterpart Derek Cleary ruled it 48-46 for Ankalaev.

Judge Sal D’Amato scored it 47-47 – meaning the contest was declared a split draw.

“I don’t know what to say, I won that fight,” Ankalaev said.

“Why didn’t I get the belt? What’s all that about?”

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Ankalaev’s opponent agreed, with Blachowicz interrupting the Russian’s interview with UFC pundit Joe Rogan in the cage to say: “Give the belt to Ankalaev.”

“I agree,” said Rogan in response.

“They need to check the judges… I don’t know what they were looking at to reach such a decision. I don’t know what to say,” Ankalaev later added. 

The 30-year-old was so disappointed with the decision that he initially suggested the fight could be his last with the UFC, before vowing to return and “take what’s mine.”

Ankalaev ended the fight in control.

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©  Sean M. Haffey / Getty Images

Blachowicz, 39, said: “I have to watch the fight, but for sure I didn’t win the fight. I don’t know if I lost the fight… I don’t feel like I’m the winner, but I’m not the judge.”

Ankalaev and Blachowicz had been thrust into an unexpected contest for the light heavyweight title at the T-Mobile Arena after champion Jiri Prochazka vacated the belt in November due to a long-term shoulder injury.

After an inclusive result in Las Vegas, UFC president Dana White fueled more resentment when he told the media that the vacant 205lbs crown would next be contested by veteran former champion Glover Teixeira and America’s Jamahal Hill at UFC 283 in Brazil next month.

White claimed the main event fight between Ankalaev and Blachowicz had been “terrible.”

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Blachowicz had started the fight strongest, enjoying success with a punishing series of leg kicks which compromised Ankalaev. 

But the Russian adapted and began to impose himself more and more, utilizing his grappling game.

Ankalaev dominated the championship rounds and attempted a late finish by pummeling Blachowicz from top position as the clock ticked down, but the Pole survived to see the bell.

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Then came the controversy as the scorecards failed to crown a new champion.

It was not the only contentious judging of the night in Las Vegas as UK fighter Paddy Pimblett earned a decision win over American Jared Gordon in the co-main event – a result which many claimed was a “robbery.”

Ankalaev, who had been hoping to join fellow Dagestani Islam Makhachev as a current UFC champion, saw his professional record slip to 18 wins, one defeat and one draw.  

Blachowicz’s career ledger now reads 29 wins, nine losses and one draw. 

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READ MORE: Fight fixing a ‘huge concern,’ admits UFC boss

December 11, 2022 at 01:32PM
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