UFC 282 will see a new light heavyweight champion crowned on Saturday, December 10, 2022, from the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, NV, when former champion Jan Blachowicz (29-9) takes on Magomed Ankalaev (18-1) for the vacant strap. In the co-main event, Paddy “The Baddy” Pimblett (19-3) will take on veteran competitor Jared Gordon (19-5).
Also on tap is a pivotal featherweight bout between undefeated fighters, Bryce Mitchell (15-0) and Ilia Topuria (12-0) as well as the return of Darren Till (18-4-1) as he faces Dricus du Plessis (17-2), plus a catchweight bout between Santiago Ponzinibbio (28-6) vs. last-minute replacement Alex Morono (22-7), and several other bangers are in store with this 13-fight PPV card.
Here’s a closer look at what’s on tap, as well as some of our staff’s best free picks…
Middleweight (185 lbs): Edmen Shahbazyan vs. Dalcha Lungiambula
Both, Edmen Shahbazyan and Dalcha Lungiambula desperately need victories, each looking to snap three-fight losing skids. Finally away from a rather questionable camp choice, Shahbazyan is ready to get back on track after a hot start to his UFC career. The 25-year-old showed flashes of brilliance before being stifled by his previous three opponents (Derek Brunson, Jack Hermansson & Nassourdine Imavov). An extremely diverse striker, he’ll look to continue the job Puna Soriano started by finishing Lungiambula with strikes in July. This is Lungiambula’s last-ditch effort at middleweight, and he’ll come out seeking a strong performance. Shahbazyan’s takedown defense has been the bane of his existence, but he won’t have to worry about this step down from his previous opponents.
Prediction: Edmen Shahbazyan by KO/TKO (+125) at BetOnline
Featherweight (145 lbs): Billy Quarantillo vs. Alexander Hernandez
A banger of a featherweight fight is found on the early prelims, as Billy Quarantillo takes on Alexander Hernandez, who is dropping down in weight. We don’t like the move to 145 pounds for Hernandez, who seemed like a big lightweight, and the knock-on Hernandez has been his cardio, so dropping 10 pounds against a cardio machine in Quarantillo is not a good matchup in our eyes. The way Hernandez wins fights is to bully opponents with his heavy pressure and get an early knockout… but we’ve seen time and time again that Quarantillo has an exceptional chin, and we expect him to survive the first-round flurry and eventually take over the fight. His pace should be too much for Hernandez and our staff sees him either getting a late stoppage or a clear-cut decision victory.
Prediction: Billy Quarantillo ML (-170) at Bovada
Middleweight (185 lbs): Chris Curtis vs. Joaquin Buckley
We don’t understand why Joaquin Buckley is such a high-betting favorite over Chris Curtis. Buckley has had a mediocre UFC career thus far, and when he gets a step up in competition, he has lost (Kevin Holland & Nassourdine Imavov). Although many peg him as having KO power, the guys he’s knocked out have been known for having notoriously bad chins. Meanwhile, Buckley’s chin is also concerning, as Kevin Holland and Alessio di Chirico both flatlined him. He also won’t be able to get Curtis down, as he’s yet to be taken down in the UFC. On the feet, Chris Curtis throws a ton of volume, while Buckley waits for the absolute perfect shot in order to get the KO. We like Curtis to just out-volume him on the feet and win a decision, but we’ll be safe and just take him on the moneyline.
Prediction: Chris Curtis ML (+135) at BetUS