UFC 282 on Dec. 10 had it all: Exciting finishes, rising stars, a title fight, and a couple of judge-related controversies.
An exciting card ended with a pair of fights where judging made the headlines: Magomed Ankalaev and Jan Blachowicz fighting to a split draw in a light heavyweight title bout where Blachowicz, in the immediate aftermath, thought Ankalaev did enough to win. UFC President Dana White was not a fan of the championship bout, telling the media that he started to “zone out” after the third round.
White, on the night of UFC 282, announced it would be former light heavyweight champion Glover Teixeira and Jamahal Hill who would compete for the vacant belt next at UFC 283 on Jan. 21 – not Ankalaev or Blachowicz.
The fight was preceded by Paddy Pimblett, a lightweight prospect many were excited about entering UFC 282, edging Jared Gordon in a unanimous decision that most felt Gordon won.
Prior to the two top bouts, UFC 282 was a wild affair.
On a card with 10 finishes in 12 fights, many winning fighters’ stock went up. Every winner who finished his opponent saw his stock rise, but here are the five biggest winners from UFC 282.
The UFC 282 main card opened with a featherweight bout between two undefeated prospects in Ilia Topuria and Bryce Mitchell. The winner of this bout would all but go on to see some huge fights with title implications in 2023. It was Topuria who submitted Mitchell, the submission specialist, in the second round after a strong first frame in the stand-up department. Topuria climbed into the top-10 of the UFC featherweight rankings and could very well see a top-5 foe in his next fight.
Topuria is arguably both the biggest winner of UFC 282 and the brightest prospect at featherweight.
Jairzinho “Bigi Boy” Rozenstruik came out like a mansion on fire against Chris Daukaus, KO’ing him in just 23 seconds. It was the second-fastest win in his UFC career. While many Rozenstruik backers felt he would win via T/KO, the speed in which he did it was impressive.
Rozenstruik entered the bout on a two-fight losing streak to Curtis Blaydes and Alexander Volkov. “Bigi Boy” needed a win over Daukaus to put himself back in the heavyweight title picture, and he almost certainly will get a big fight in 2023.
Edmen Shahbazyan was in desperate need of a win entering UFC 282. He began his professional MMA career at 10-0 and entered his main event fight with Derek Brunson in August 2020 with a world of hype. Shahbazyan lost that fight to Brunson, as well as two more after, and entered Saturday’s bout with Dalcha Lungiambula on a three-fight skid. A fourth loss may have seen him released from the UFC.
Shahbazyan, still only 25 years old, performed in a big way, finishing Lungiambula with a flying knee and punches toward the end of the second round. At 25, Shahbazyan still has a lot to prove, and his finish over Lungiambula was the first step in his rejuvenation. He got the win he desperately needed and may have saved his career in the process.
Billy Quarantillo entered his UFC 282 featherweight match-up with Alexander Hernandez off a loss to Shane Burgos. It was a fight against a prospect who was once highly touted up a weight class. Hernandez, a dangerous foe who had enough power in his hands to KO current top-5 lightweight Beneil Dariush, hoped to see his power translate down a weight class. And it did.
Hernandez got the better of Quarantillo for the first five minutes, using his strength to control “Billy Q” and clearly win the round.
But then Quarantillo did what he did best: use his gas tank to his advantage. Quarantillo came out in the second round, sapped Hernandez of his cardio with well-placed strikes, and ultimately finished him with 30 seconds remaining in Round 2. While Quarantillo is only 21 fights into his professional career, it was a quintessential “Billy Q” win over a tough opponent – one that should put him on the cusp of a top-15 fight.
Raul Rosas Jr.
It’s no secret that there is a lot of hype and curiosity surrounding Raul Rosas Jr. The 18-year-old wunderkind entered UFC 282 with the most fanfare around him outside of Paddy Pimblett.
Rosas Jr., going against Jay Perrin, had a lot of pressure to not only defeat him but do it convincingly. He did so when he made Perrin tap to a rear naked choke less than three minutes into the fight. Rosas Jr. is now 7-0 and expressed his desire to be fast-tracked in an interview with MMAFighting, when he told Ariel Helwani of “The MMA Hour” that he feels he could finish UFC bantamweight champion Aljamain Sterling now. A fight with Sterling almost certainly won’t be next for Rosas Jr., but now he has fans invested and wondering how his career will go.
Career-wise, Rosas Jr. made out well at UFC 282.
Santiago Ponzinibbio, Dricus Du Plessis, Chris Curtis, T.J. Brown and Cameron Saaiman all finished their opponents, earning big wins at UFC 282. Ponzinibbio rallied late to stop Alex Morono; Du Plessis came back to finish Darren Till after slowing down following a torrent-paced start; Curtis stunned Joaquin Buckley in a fun middleweight affair and should fight a fellow ranked opponent next; Brown spoiled the UFC debut of Dana White Contender Series alumnus Erik Silva; and Saaiman came out on top against Steven Koslow in a fight between two UFC debutants.
Shout out to Glover Teixeira and Jamahal Hill as well for earning a title shot on a night they probably weren’t expecting one.
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