Magomed Ankalaev went through a roller-coaster of emotions on Saturday night.
After going five grueling rounds against Jan Blachowicz for a vacant light heavyweight title in the UFC 282 main event, Ankalaev went from thinking that he was a UFC champion, to shock at the official decision being a split draw, to sounding like he might leave the promotion, to vowing he will be champion in 2023.
The drama started shortly after the decision was read, with Ankalaev deriding the scores in his post-fight interview with UFC commentator Joe Rogan.
“I don’t know what to say,” Ankalaev said via a Russian translator. “I won that fight. Why didn’t I get my belt? I don’t know what to say.”
“I can’t choose the judges for the fight that are sitting over here, but I won this fight,” he continued. “I won this belt. Where is my belt?”
According all three official scorecards, Blachowicz was up going into the championship rounds, where Ankalaev went to his wrestling to completely neutralize the former light heavyweight titleholder. Two judges gave Ankalaev a 10-8 in Round 5, but that still left him behind on one card and tied on another.
Ankalaev felt he deserved the win and went as far as to indicate that he might need a change of scenery if his displeasure with the judging wasn’t addressed.
“I always do whatever I have to do to adjust,” Ankalaev said. “If I’m losing in the standup, I’ll go down to grappling and wrestling; if I’m losing the wrestling, I’ll stand up. I can do both things, but I don’t know if I’m going to fight for this organization again, because honestly, I don’t know what just happened.”
In a statement to MMA Fighting’s Damon Martin, Ankalaev clarified that there was a translation error and that what he actually meant was that he was considering not fighting in Las Vegas anymore, not that he no longer wanted to fight for the UFC.
“It was mistranslated, I said I didn’t want to fight in this city anymore,” Ankalaev said in his statement. “Because the judges were horrible. I won this fight. Not one person online said I lost this fight. Even Jan Blachowicz said I won this fight. I get it. After the second round, my knee was gone but I still fought. I bit down on my mouthguard and I did the best I can. This fight can only help me grow and I’m grateful for the opportunity.”
Backstage, Ankalaev also gave a more measured assessment of the main event result after cooling off. He told UFC reporters that while he still believes it’s obvious that he won, he won’t be going anywhere until he gets another chance to erase any doubt that he is the true light heavyweight champion.
“The judges made their decision, but anybody who saw the fight today in the arena or anywhere else in the world, they know who won the fight,” Ankalaev said. “They know who won the title. So the judges made the decision they made, but I’m going to keep working, I’m going to keep moving forward.”
“I’d like to take my title in 2023,” Ankalaev later added. “I’m an uncrowned champion. The title belongs to me, so I’m going to come back in 2023 and take the title that’s rightfully mine.”