UFC 282 Picks and Analysis: Going with Youth in the Main Event
It’s the final pay per view of 2022 in the UFC after one of the most memorable years in the 29 years of the company.
This Saturday, UFC 282 will be headlined by Jan Blachowicz and Magomed Ankalaev for the vacant light heavyweight title, as Jiri Prochazka decided to vacate the belt after his injury forced an end to his rematch with former belt holder, Glover Teixeira.
Here are our betting picks for UFC 282 this weekend.
Jan Blachowicz vs. Magomed Ankalaev
Prochazka taking on Teixeira for a second time was a mouthwatering prospect, as the first title fight was one of the greatest in history. Now, however, a former champion takes on arguably the light heavyweight division’s most promising star, so we can’t complain too much.
Blachowicz won the title by destroying Dominic Reyes with his famous punching power, and he defended the title by beating middleweight champion, Israel Adesanya, over five rounds. This also meant the Pole became the first man to beat Adesanya in MMA, and he has subsequently put himself into a category as arguably the best light heavyweight title holder since the end of the Jon Jones and Daniel Cormier era.
But, Blachowicz looked weak when he lost the belt to Teixera. A first-round submission was made to look easy for the Brazilian, but Blachowicz returned to the win column with a fortunate win over Alexander Rakic after his injury in their fight forced the stoppage.
Ankalaev, however, is nine years younger than hard-hitting Pole and this does feel like the time the 30-year-old will take center stage in the light heavyweight division. Ankalaev mixes his dominant combat sambo wrestling with his fantastic, versatile striking, and since losing to Paul Craig in the final second of his fight back in 2018 on his UFC debut, the Russian has won nine in a row and made easy work of everyone.
Blachowicz will always have a chance in a fight because of his ridiculous punching power. In terms of overall MMA ability, however, there is one clear winner in this battle for us.
Magomed Ankalaev by points is +240 with Fanduel.
Paddy Pimblett vs. Jared Gordon
For his fourth UFC fight, Paddy Pimblett takes on Jared Gordon in hopes of making it to 4-0 in the UFC with four Performance of the Night bonuses too. So far, the Englishman has beaten Luigi Vendramini with a fantastic KO and Rodrigo Vargas and Jordan Leavitt with a rear-naked choke. Each fight has seen him win a bonus, but this bout seems to be a huge step up in competition for Pimblett.
Gordon has only lost to the former title holder Charles Oliveira and Grant Dawson in the past three years, registering five wins since 2019. All five have been via decision, however, and none of them have been particularly memorable or that convincing.
Pimblett is far superior on the ground and in grappling exchanges and another submission win could come in for the 27-year-old from Liverpool, England. Either way, we see nothing but a Pimblett win in this one, as the UFC seems desperate to get him a bunch of relatively easy wins on his record to build him up to be the next superstar in the organization.
Paddy Pimblett by submission is +230 with DraftKings.
Santiago Ponzinibbio vs. Alex Morono
Another fight that has had a late change sees Santiago Ponzinibbio take on Alex Morono after the legendary figure of Robbie Lawler had to withdraw.
Regardless, Ponzinibbio remains the favorite to win on Saturday and we also think he’ll manage to get the victory against Morono. Morono is on a four-fight win streak after beating Matthew Semelsberger via unanimous decision in July, but Ponzinibbio is heading into this fight after a full camp and with a point to prove after two split-decision defeats.
The Argentine has also still managed to win 15 of his 34 fights by knockout and this usually bodes well against a fighter that normally gets a win on the judges' scorecards. We expect Ponzinibbio to come out swinging knowing that Morono is potentially far from full fitness because of the late change to the fight.
Santiago Ponzinibbio by KO/TKO is +210 with Fanduel.
Darren Till vs. Dirscus Du Plessis
Two men in their late 20s will look to have another go at jumping into the Top 10 of the middleweight rankings this Saturday as Darren Till meets with Dricus du Plessis.
It feels like a lifetime ago when Till burst onto the scene with victories over Donald Cerrone and Stephen Thompson in the UFC. It's been over four years since Till fought Tyron Woodley for the welterweight title and a brutal KO loss to Jorge Masvidal shortly after forced a move to middleweight for him. Till managed to narrowly beat Kelvin Gastelum in his 185 pounds UFC debut, before a defeat to Robert Whittaker and a submission loss to Derek Brunson.
This is, once again, a tough fight for Till. Du Plessis is a fellow confident striker, but he is also far superior in the grappling department just like Whittaker, Woodley and Brunson were. At the same time, the Englishman has been a shadow of the man that catapulted himself onto the UFC scene and barely even won a round since 2018.
It could be all or nothing for Till, but with du Plessis winning nine fights via submission and seven via knockout, it’s a fight that could go either way as Till has also claimed 10 of his 18 wins via knockout. We can’t pick a winner and this is mainly because Till has become arguably the toughest fighter on the planet to predict. We don’t, however, see how this one reaches the final bell.
Fight to not go the distance between Till and du Plessis is -200 with Fanduel.
Bryce Mitchell vs. Illia Topuria
A fight that could have massive implications on the featherweight rankings sees the unbeaten Bryce Mitchell looking to make it 16-0 against the unbeaten rising star, Illia Topuria. The Spanish-born fighter is 25 and heading into this bout with a 12-0 record and it makes this battle with Mitchell arguably the most intriguing fight of UFC 282.
Topuria achieved one of the knockouts of the year in his last fight against Jai Herbert, earning the Performance of the Night bonus in London too. Further wins over Ryan Hall, Damon Jackson and Youssef Zalal in his UFC career so far mean seven wins via submission, four knockouts and one other victory via decision in his 12 fights in MMA.
Mitchell will look to take this fight to the ground like he always does, and if he is to stand there and fight on the feet with the 25-year-old, Mitchell could be dragged into deep waters. The American is, on the other hand, one of the best submission artists in the UFC right now.
Mitchell simply has to find a way to get this into a grappling exchange and work his magic, because there seems to be no other way in which he can force a win. As the rounds go on, Topuria will be able to utilize his striking more and even work his own grappling into the fight.
With this fight seeing two men put their unbeaten records on the line, it’s become incredibly tough to predict. We do, however, think it will be done inside the distance, just like 20 of the combined 27 fights involving the two have.
Fight to not go the distance is -126 between Mitchell and Topuria with DraftKings.
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