UFC 282: Best Bets for Jan Błachowicz vs. Magomed Ankalaev and the Rest of the Card

Lyle Fitzsimmons@@fitzbitzFeatured Columnist IIIDecember 7, 2022

UFC 282: Best Bets for Jan Błachowicz vs. Magomed Ankalaev and the Rest of the Card

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    DALLAS, TEXAS - JULY 30: Magomed Ankalaev of Russia reacts after defeating Anthony Smith in a light heavyweight fight during the UFC 277 event at American Airlines Center on July 30, 2022 in Dallas, Texas. (Photo by Josh Hedges/Zuffa LLC)
    Josh Hedges/Zuffa LLC

    Ladies and gentlemen, start your adjustments.

    Had a column discussing the best bets at UFC 282 been written just a few weeks earlier, it would have looked significantly different than this one.

    That's because the main event was turned upside down when light heavyweight champion Jiří Procházka, who'd been poised to defend his title against the man he took it from six months ago (Glover Teixeira), pulled out from the fight and relinquished his crown after sustaining a shoulder injury while training.

    But rather than simply matching Teixeira against another available contender, the matchup was blown up entirely when the ex-champ gave up his place in the queue, leaving contenders No. 3 and 4—Jan Błachowicz and Magomed Ankalaev—to battle for a vacant title in the main event of a 13-fight card from the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas.

    The paid portion of the Saturday show consists of five fights and will be carried by ESPN+ PPV at 10 p.m. ET. The four-bout early prelim show begins at 5:30 p.m. on UFC Fight Pass, and another four-bout prelim portion goes live at 8 p.m. and is available on both ESPN+ and ESPN2.

    The B/R combat and betting teams got together to assess the entire 13-bout show, looking at the latest odds posted by DraftKings and considering how the fights are likely to end and where some possibilities for wagering profit might be found.

Jan Błachowicz vs. Magomed Ankalaev

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    ABU DHABI, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES - OCTOBER 30: Jan Blachowicz of Poland prepares to fight Glover Teixeira in the UFC light heavyweight championship fight during the UFC 267 event at Etihad Arena on October 30, 2021 in Yas Island, Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. (Photo by Chris Unger/Zuffa LLC)
    Chris Unger/Zuffa LLC

    It wasn't long ago that Błachowicz was a big UFC player.

    He was the UFC's champion at 205 pounds in 2020 after KO'ing Dominick Reyes for the belt vacated by Jon Jones and had a high-profile defense six months later when then-middleweight king Israel Adesanya attempted to become a rare two-division champ.

    Błachowicz's grinding five-round defeat of the Last Stylebender was Adesanya's lone loss in the UFC until a shocker at last month's pay-per-view show, but Błachowicz's reign lasted just seven months more before he was submitted in two rounds by Teixeira.

    He stopped Aleksandar Rakić in May in his lone fight since surrendering the belt and meets a streaking commodity in Ankalaev, who lost to Paul Craig in his UFC debut in 2018 but has since reeled nine straight victories to run his overall pro record to 18-1.

    His 10 KOs in 18 wins make him a far better striking proposition, considering Błachowicz has KO'd just nine of 29 victims, but the ex-champ's nine wins by submission and Ankalaev's triangle choke loss to Craig provide a tasty option if you're seeking another means to an end.

    The result will likely hinge on whether Błachowicz can do anything with his fists to dissuade Ankalaev's pressure or if he'll be successful in getting the fight to the floor. The +1100 option out there for Błachowicz to win by submission is certainly tantalizing, but given Ankalaev's 86 percent takedown defense, it seems more a lark than a sound strategy.

    The 30-year-old Russian is a solid -280 favorite on the moneyline, which makes the prospect of him getting a late stoppage or winning a decision with a +200 payoff seem attractive.

    The B/R Pick: Magomed Ankalaev to Win in Round 5 or on Decision (+200)

Paddy Pimblett vs. Jared Gordon

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    LONDON, ENGLAND - JULY 23: (R-L) Paddy Pimblett of England punches Jordan Leavitt in a lightweight fight during the UFC Fight Night event at O2 Arena on July 23, 2022 in London, England. (Photo by Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC)
    Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC

    How enthusiastic you are about this fight probably goes in tandem with how much you've bought into the hype surrounding British lightweight Paddy Pimblett.

    The 27-year-old, dubbed The Baddy, has made the UFC his brand-boosting playpen since arriving 15 months ago, KO'ing one opponent and submitting two others across three fights while spending barely more than 16 minutes inside the cage.

    He'd already gone 16-3 with 12 finishes before reaching the promotion, which means only four of the 19 men he's beaten have managed to last the scheduled distance.

    Enter Jared Gordon.

    The Florida-based veteran faces physical deficits in height and reach against Pimblett, but perhaps more importantly, he's been finished four times—three by KOs, once by submission—across 11 fights since arriving five years ago.

    That doesn't bode well for a guy who's already a +210 moneyline longshot.

    In fact, though Pimblett is a solid -250 favorite on the moneyline, he's even a more solid -360 pick to get things done inside the 15-minute distance. So, if you're expecting a finish, the best chance to make a significant comes from forecasting the method.

    He's a +300 pick to earn his seventh KO and +225 to get a 10th submission, and, given Gordon's track record of finding the losing ends of octagonal slugfests—he's just 1-3 in UFC fights that have ended by KOs—the former seems like the best course of action.

    The B/R Pick: Paddy Pimblett To Win By KO/TKO/DQ (+300)

Alex Morono vs. Santiago Ponzinibbio

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    LAS VEGAS, NEVADA - MAY 21: (L-R) Michel Pereira of Brazil punches Santiago Ponzinibbio of Argentina in a welterweight bout during the UFC Fight Night event at UFC APEX on May 21, 2022 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Chris Unger/Zuffa LLC)
    Chris Unger/Zuffa LLC

    For Santiago Ponzinibbio, it's a big change.

    A loser in three of his last four after a seven-fight win streak, the 36-year-old Brazilian was to be the next stop on the Robbie Lawler Farewell Tour before the ex-welterweight champion pulled out with an injury and was replaced by surging Texas product Alex Morono.

    A six-year man in the UFC, Morono is 11-4 with a no-contest in 16 octagonal appearances since December 2016 and arrives on a four-fight win streak over two years.

    He's both younger and taller than Lawler and has been an equal opportunist across 22 career wins, scoring six apiece by KO and submission alongside nine by decision and one by disqualification. Things have tipped more toward striking in recent years, however, given six decisions and two KOs since his most recent submission early in 2018.

    Ponzinibbio is also primarily a striker, evidenced by 15 career KO wins and exactly none of his six career submissions having come since he reached the UFC in 2013. Morono, meanwhile, is statistically busier and more accurate, but the numbers are close enough to not make them a defining element one way or the other.

    Instead, it's the five KO losses between them that stand out and make a stoppage in either direction seem like the way to go, particularly if you're not sold on Morono at +150.

    The B/R Pick: Under 2.5 Rounds (+135)

Worth a Shot!

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    LAS VEGAS, NV - MARCH 05: Bryce Mitchell (top) punches Edson Barboza in their Featherweight bout for UFC 272 on March 5, 2022, at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, NV. (Photo by Louis Grasse/PxImages/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
    Louis Grasse/PxImages/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

    You've made it this far, so you clearly recognize the concept of risk versus reward.

    And while favorites and moneylines are worthwhile options, a lofty prop or parlay is nice, too.

    This card isn't hurting for options, even outside the top three bouts.

    Here are a few we'd suggest you take a look at:

    Method of Victory: Bryce Mitchell To Win By Submission (+450)

    Ilia Topuria has never lost in the UFC. In fact, he's never lost as an MMA pro. But he's also never faced the likes of Bryce Mitchell, who's 15-1 as a pro and 5-0 as a full-time UFC fighter. Thug Nasty is on the sort of roll that creates star power, and the guess here is that he'll find a way to get Topuria into a compromising position that yields a 10th career submission.

    Winning Round and Method: Joaquin Buckley vs. Chris Curtis, Round 1 - KO/TKO/DQ (+200)

    Joaquin Buckley is two-plus years beyond the greatest MMA KO of all time against Impa Kasanganay. And he's never managed to recapture that magic while going 4-2 in six subsequent fights, including a decision loss to Nassourdine Imavov in September. Chris Curtis, though, may present the opportunity, given his penchant for aggression. Either way, this one ends quickly.

    Round and Method Betting: Edmen Shahbazyan to Win by KO/TKO/DQ in Round 1 (+225)

    Edmen Shahbazyan used to be the next big thing. He was a Ronda Rousey disciple and was a winner on Dana White's Contender Series as a 20-year-old, then opened his full-time UFC career with three straight wins. Since then, it's been 0-3 with two KO losses. So if it feels like a must-win against skidding 35-year-old Dalcha Lungiambula, that's because it is.

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