The final numbered card of the year is here. After a horrible injury, Jiri Prochazka has pulled out of his rematch with Glover Teixeira and unfortunately given up his Light Heavyweight title as he believes he won’t be able to defend it.
This means the original co-main between Magomed Ankalaev and former champion Jan Blachowicz has been moved up to the main event spot for the undisputed Light Heavyweight crown this weekend. Let’s get into the breakdown.
Bryce Mitchell vs Ilia Topuria – Featherweight Division
Someone’s 0 has to go (even though Bryce technically has a loss to his name.) It’s an excellent fight to start the main card with. Mitchell’s BJJ is incredible. His twister on Matt Sayles in 2019 was set up beautifully and he’s very good at controlling the fight on the ground if needs be. The fear of getting taken down also opens up his striking. He dropped Edson Barboza earlier this year and can definitely drop Topuria if Topuria is thinking constantly about when the takedown is coming.
Onto Ilia, this man is extremely well-rounded. Wrestling, BJJ and striking are all at the highest level. His boxing combinations are slick. The way he knocked Jai Herbert out was special especially after getting dropped in the first round.
I’m backing Ilia here. I think his game is more well-rounded the Bryce’s. It’s going to decision.
Prediction: Ilia Topuria
Darren Till vs Dricus Du Plessis – Middleweight Division
The long-awaited return of “The Gorilla” Darren Till is met with a tough foe. Dricus Du Plessis is a talented fighter but I believe his striking game falls into the hands of Darren Till. Du Plessis throws these 4 to 5-punch combos which he might land one but with Darren Till’s Southpaw stance, it opens up the left counter which I think he’ll connect with throughout this fight. Dricus also tires himself out and we know Till can go 5 rounds in wars. Unless Dricus knocks Darren out, I can only see Till winning by simply being the better striker.
Prediction: Darren Till by decision
Santiago Ponizinibbio vs Alex Morono – Catchweight (180lbs)
Late replacement Alex Morono steps in for Robbie Lawler against Santiago Ponzinibbio. Ponzi isn’t at his best anymore. He hasn’t been the same since the bacterial infection in 2019. However, even though the physicality isn’t at its best anymore, the technique is and I do believe he’s better technically than Morono. He tends to duck his head when throwing hooks, which always leaves him open for the uppercut counter. It’s a tough pick because it’s technique vs health. I’ll pick Ponzi. Very close fight though.
Prediction: Santiago Ponzinibbio by TKO in round 3
Paddy Pimblett vs Jared Gordon – Lightweight Division
Paddy still hasn’t impressed me. Of course, his BJJ is brilliant but elsewhere I haven’t been as wowed by him as I was with Sean O’Malley. I think he’ll get the job done. Especially if Gordon makes the mistake of shooting for a takedown and playing into the submission game of Paddy, I can’t really see him doing much there. Honestly, just want Paddy to face Drew Dober or Terrance McKinney so we can see him pushed against good competition.
Prediction: Paddy Pimblett by submission in round 2
Jan Blachowicz vs Magomed Ankalaev – Light Heavyweight Championship
Good main event with the big boys. It’s a good fight as well. In terms of positives for Jan, obviously, Polish Power is always a plus for Jan. However, those body kicks are nasty. He used them brilliantly against Adesanya and Dom Reyes and if he’s able to find the sweet spot again, they will add up, especially if the fight goes long.
Magomed is incredible. Boxing is on another level and to mix that technique and power with Dagestani wrestling is a scary combination. I think the longer this goes, the more it favours Magomed. He’s had good stamina in the past and even without the 5 round experience, he always looks fresh after his fights.
Could Jan break again? We saw it against Glover last year when he lost the belt. If Magomed hurts him early, it’s definitely a possibility.
I’m going to take Magomed. I simply think he’s the better fighter, but we’ve rarely seen him in serious trouble and if Jan takes him to that place, it’ll be interesting to see how he reacts.
Prediction: Magomed Ankalaev by KO in round 3