Opinion | Fights to make following UFC 282: Blachowicz vs. Ankalaev

UFC 282

UFC 282 delivered for the most part a very enjoyable and entertaining card. Ten finishes in the opening ten matchups had everything set nicely for the co-main and main event to send off the UFC’s final pay-per-view of the year on a high. However, as we should expect by now, this was never going to be the case. A controversial decision and a draw in the main event sank the ship on what ultimately could have been a fantastic card.

Although the final two matchups did not quite live up to expectations, there are still matches to be made following them. So let us review UFC 282 and see what lies next for those who emerged victorious on the night.

Jan Blachowicz & Magomed Ankalaev

It seems only right to pair these two gentlemen up once again following their draw in the main event of UFC 282. Provided both men have escaped from their bout with relatively tame injuries and are looking to return around a similar time let us see two of the top contenders in the division fight each other again to establish who should be up in contention for the next title shot.

Paddy Pimblett

Now like most of the MMA community, I feel it should be Jared Gordon I am matchmaking for next, as opposed to the now 4-0 UFC lightweight, Paddy Pimblett. However, the Scouse-star got the nod on the judges’ scorecards and therefore shall be moving forward with my matchmaking plans.

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The former Cage Warriors champ should be taking a step up in competition next. Therefore, I would like to see Pimblett matched up with the No.10 ranked lightweight contender, Jalin Turner.

Santiago Ponzinibbio

Santiago Ponzinibbio looked well on his way to a decision defeat against Alex Morono. However, in the final round, ‘The Argentine Dagger’ landed a devastating right hand, quickly followed up with a flurry of strikes to claim a TKO victory.

I was a big fan of Ponzinibbio’s original opponent, Robbie Lawler, and therefore would have no complaints should the two be matched up once again.

Dricus Du Plessis

Dricus Du Plessis broke the hearts of many Darren Till fans when he locked in a rear-naked choke to submit the ‘Gorilla’ in the third round. Du Plessis remains undefeated in the promotion and has already established himself as a top contender in the middleweight division.

The South African called for a top-ten opponent next and he deserves nothing less. That is why for his next matchup I would like to see him take on 9th-ranked Jack Hermansson.

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Ilia Topuria

In what was widely considered one of the most intriguing and high-level fights on the card, Georgia’s Ilia Topuria turned in an almost flawless display at UFC 282. There is no doubt in my mind that Topuria will contend for a featherweight title in the future, and I can imagine it to occur sooner rather than later. I believe he is deserving of a crack at the top five and therefore would like to see him take on fellow contender, Arnold Allen.

Fights To Make Following UFC 282

Raul Rosas Jr

The 18-year-old star boy delivered on his promotional debut as many had anticipated when he submitted Jay Perrin in the very first round. You can expect the UFC to take a slower approach with Rosas Jr given his age and allow him to grow inside the promotion. Brian Kelleher would make a good opponent for Rosas Jr as he aims to bounce back from a two-fight losing skid, both coming via submission.

Jairzinho Rozenstruik

‘Bigi Boy’ returned to winning ways after he delivered a blitzing 23-second knockout of Chris Daukaus. Having already fought many top contenders and fallen short, Rozenstruik finds himself in a bit of a peculiar position. However, there is one man who he has not fought, and would create fireworks should they fight – that man being Tai ‘Bam Bam’ Tuivasa.  

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Edmen Shabayzan

Similarly to ‘Bigi Boy,’ Edmen Shaybayzan returned to the winning column, snapping a three-fight losing streak. A highly touted prospect when he first joined the promotion, Shabayzan is looking to get his career back on track following his UFC 282 victory. Therefore, next for Edmen, I would like to see him take on Jacob Malkoun.

Chris Curtis

Chris Curtis emerged victorious in the battle of heavy hitters when he knocked out Joaquin Buckley in the second round of their UFC 282 prelim matchup. Four wins from five have landed Curtis just inside the top fifteen of the middleweight division. Given most of the contenders already have been scheduled for early 2023 should Curtis wish to continue his ascent up the middleweight rankings he should look to take on Brazil’s Andre Muniz.

Billy Quarantillo

Billy Quarantillo simply does not know how to be involved in a boring fight and this sentiment was fitting following his TKO victory over Alexander Hernandez. Next for Billy Q is a man who would bring the same type of fire that he does already. Nathaniel Wood looked excellent in his most recent outing, and I feel these two would match up extremely well.

TJ Brown

TJ Brown notched his tenth submission victory this past weekend at UFC 282 when he dispatched Erik Silva in the final round. Three victories in his last four outings have Brown finding some stronger form inside the promotion. For his next test, I would like to see him take on experienced featherweight, Andre Fili.

Cameron Saaiman

Another debutant and another victory, Cameron Saaiman extended his undefeated record to 7-0 this past weekend following his TKO victory over a short-notice opponent, Steven Koslow. Next for Saaiman, I would like to see him take on Chad Anheliger.

Be sure to share your thoughts on my selections and leave suggestions in the comments on whom you would like to see the winners from UFC 282 face next.

Jared Cannonier and Sean Strickland will close out 2022 for the UFC as the two middleweight contenders both look to return to winning ways and set themselves up for an exciting 2023.