Russian fighter Magomed Ankalaev has said he is not planning to turn his back on the UFC, despite the controversy surrounding the scoring in his light heavyweight title fight against Jan Blachowicz in Las Vegas on Saturday night.
Ankalaev and Blachowicz fought to a split decision draw in their contest for the vacant 205lbs title in the main event at UFC 282 at the T-Mobile Arena.
Many felt that Ankalaev deserved the win, with Polish rival Blachowicz even conceding defeat before the judges’ scorecards were announced – and later telling the UFC to “give Ankalaev the belt.”
A dismayed Ankalaev, 30, was quoted by a translator after the fight as saying: “I don’t know if I’m going to fight for this organization again, because honestly I don’t know what just happened.”
That fueled suggestions that Ankalaev could walk away from MMA’s elite promotion, although he clarified on social media that he would not be quitting.
“I wanna clear something up, what I said after the fight was I don’t want to fight in this city anymore because of the horrible judging, I did not say anything about I don’t wanna fight in the UFC,” read a tweet from Ankalaev’s account on Sunday.
“I fought my heart out today, there is no excuse, but I had a compromised knee, it wasn’t my best performance, but I know I won the fight. Thank you @danawhite and the @ufc for giving me this opportunity.”
Ankalaev’s team said in comments to MMA Fighting that he was not contemplating leaving the UFC – where he had compiled a nine-fight win streak to set up his title shot against former champion Blachowicz.
Blachowicz had started the five-round contest strongly against Ankalaev, producing a brutal series of leg kicks. But the Dagestani then exerted his dominance on the ground as he adapted his approach.
Ankalaev finished the fight hammering away at Blachowicz from top position, and raised his arms after the bell in the expectation that he would be crowned the latest UFC champion from Russia.
Numerous fellow fighters and pundits, including Joe Rogan, said they felt Ankalaev had been the clear victor, and there was widespread shock when the scorecards were announced.
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 decision draw.
UFC president Dana White later announced that the vacant light heavyweight title – which was relinquished by Czech fighter Jiri Prochazka in November – would now be contested by former champion Glover Teixeira and America’s Jamahal Hill at UFC 283 in Brazil in January.
The judging of Ankalaev’s fight was not the only controversy of the night in Las Vegas on Saturday.
The co-main event saw UK fighter Paddy Pimblett pick up a highly contentious unanimous decision victory over American opponent Jared Gordon in their lightweight showdown, in what many claimed was a “robbery.”