With former UFC Light Heavyweight champion, Jiri Prochazka, on the mend, Jan Blachowicz and Magomed Ankalaev will duke it out for the vacant belt this Saturday evening (Dec. 10, 2022) in the familiar halls of T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, Nevadas. UFC 282 also features the stateside debut of Paddy Pimblett, who takes on dangerous veteran Jared Gordon, and the return of Bryce Mitchell, who will lock horns with Ilia Topuria on the pay-per-view (PPV) main card.
ESPN+ hosts the first five (of nine) “Prelims” undercard bouts; let’s see what the app has to offer for the final UFC PPV of the year ...
145 lbs.: Billy Quarantillo vs. Alexander Hernandez
Billy Quarantillo (16-4) parlayed his Contender Series stoppage of Kamuela Kirk into three consecutive UFC. “Billy Q” has since lost two of three, though he claimed a post-fight bonus for his beatdown of Gabriel Benitez.
This marks his first cage appearance in 13 months, as he withdrew from a planned July 2022 clash with Bill Algeo.
Alexander Hernandez (13-5) exploded onto the scene with impressive wins over Beneil Dariush and Olivier Aubin-Mercier in his first two UFC bouts. His current 3-4 run has seen him alternate losses and wins, and “The Great” is coming off a career-first submission defeat to Renato Moicano.
This will be his first Featherweight appearance since 2013.
I don’t think moving to 145 is the cure-all Hernandez is looking for, and especially not against someone with the insane pace of Quarantillo. There’s no question that “The Great” will look good early thanks to his solid boxing and the wrestling that’s bedeviled “Billy Q” time and again in the cage. It’s just hard to see him keeping it up; he can be a frontrunner at times, a tendency that certainly won’t be helped with the unfamiliar physical drain of a larger weight cut.
Again, Hernandez is probably going to have a great time of it when they’re both fresh. I just don’t trust him to keep it up once his body starts to give out and Quarantillo’s landed punches hit the triple digits. Quarantillo does his usual avalanche thing for a late finish.
Prediction: Quarantillo via third round technical knockout
205 lbs.: Ovince Saint Preux vs. Antonio Trocoli
Ovince Saint Preux (26-16) clawed his way out of a three-fight losing streak with stoppage wins in four of his next five fights, three of which earned him “Performance of the Night.” He’s now 3-5 in his last eight, most recently edging out “Shogun” Rua in an incredibly unnecessary rematch.
His finishes are split 11/9 between knockouts and submissions.
An upset submission over Kenneth Bergh on Contender Series appeared to earn Antonio Trocoli (12-3) a UFC contract, only for it to go up in smoke when the Brazilian failed a drug test. His lone fight of the last three years saw him choke out Reslley Isael to extend his unbeaten streak to four.
He steps in for Philipe Lins, who himself stepped in for Alexander Gustafsson, on less than two weeks’ notice.
Speaking as a diehard fan of “Shogun,” going to a split decision with him in the Year of Our Lord 2022 is a pretty good sign that the wheels have come off. The sheer athleticism that carried Saint Preux farther than his limited technical ability ever could alone is well on its way out, and what’s left is more awkward than effective.
Might still be enough to beat Trocoli, though. It’s admittedly hard to get a bead on him when he’s had 2:10 of fight time since 2019, but he seems like the kind of guy Saint Preux can kite on the feet and/or control against the fence. Feels like we might get another Von Flue out of this if Trocoli beefs a takedown.
Prediction: Saint Preux via second round submission
145 lbs.: T.J. Brown vs. Erik Silva
T.J. Brown (16-9) struggled out of the UFC gate with two straight losses, but managed to bounce back with victories over Kai Kamaka III. The winning streak wound up stopping there courtesy of Shayilan Nuerdanbieke, who out-grappled Brown to a unanimous decision win in June 2022.
“Downtown” has scored nine submissions and four knockouts as a professional.
Erik Silva (9-1) rode a seven-fight winning streak into Contender Series, where he squared off with 3-0 Anvar Baynazarov. Silva needed just 92 seconds to pound the Uzbek out and punch his ticket to the Octagon.
“King” faces a 2.5-inch reach disadvantage.
I’m firm in the belief that in terms of pure skill, Brown has what it takes to be a noteworthy UFC Featherweight. There’s just something missing; the iffy chin is a known quantity, of course, but his striking and grappling ability should have carried him past Nuerdanbieke.
That defeat in particular has me questioning his chances. Though Silva is mostly untested after a string of quick finishes and doesn’t appear to have a huge amount of depth to his game, Brown proved unable to deal with a similarly grappling-heavy approach against Nuerdanbieke. I like Silva to come out aggressive, get his takedowns going, and ultimately club Brown into submission.
Prediction: Silva via first round technical knockout
125 lbs.: Vinicius Salvador vs. Daniel Da Silva
After a get-well win on the Brazilian circuit to shake the rust from a 16-month layoff, Vinicius Salvador (14-4) entered Contender Series as a two-to-one underdog against Shannon Ross. Undaunted, he scored multiple knockdowns en route to a violent second-round finish that earned him a UFC contract.
All of his professional wins have come inside the distance, 13 of them via knockout.
Daniel Da Silva (11-4) put an injury defeat behind him to score three consecutive first-round finishes. He’s yet to taste victory in the Octagon, suffering three consecutive stoppage losses inside of two rounds.
He stands one inch shorter than Salvador at 5’6.”
Speaking of people who really should be doing better than they are, it’s been surreal to watch someone with Da Silva’s obvious talent constantly find ways to lose. Salvador is slow, incredibly easy to hit, and has a history of getting overwhelmed on the mat, so by all rights he should be easy pickings for an explosive finisher like “Miojo.” With the way he choked against Francisco Figueiredo and Victor Altamirano, though, it seems inevitable that he’ll repeat Ross’s folly and walk right into one of “Fenomeno’s” sledgehammer hooks.
If he’s firing on all cylinders, Da Silva will kick this guy’s head clean off his shoulders. I’m just past expecting that from him. Salvador clubs him unconscious within the first five minutes.
Prediction: Salvador via first round knockout
135 lbs.: Cameron Saaiman vs. Steven Koslow (6-0)
Cameron Saaiman (6-0) — an understudy of UFC Middleweight contender, Dricus Du Plessis — claimed EFC Bantamweight gold in his fifth pro fight. This led him to Contender Series, where he knocked Josh Wang-Kim out cold and secured himself a UFC contract.
That EFC title win was his sole trip to the judges as a professional, as he’s knocked out four and submitted one.
Steven Koslow (6-0) won 10 straight as an amateur en route to a 2019 pro debut. He’s yet to see the second round in the paid ranks, submitting all six of his opponents in 4:05 or less.
He replaces Ronnie Lawrence on less than two weeks’ notice.
Full disclosure: all of Koslow’s publicly viewable MMA fights since 2019 were hidden behind a $24.99/fight paywall on FITE. The data I’m working from is old as hell, so be sure to keep that in mind.
From what I have managed to see, Koslow is a very skilled Brazilian jiu-jitsu player out of 10th Planet, which should give him the means to exploit one of Saaiman’s more notable weaknesses. He’ll have to deal with Saaiman’s pressure, power, and gas tank, though; between his lack of experience in the later rounds and limited strength of schedule, I’m not hugely confident in his ability to do so. Expect him to wrestle his way to a great start before Saaiman gets his footing, forces him into an uncomfortably high pace, and polishes him off in the latter half of the fight.
Prediction: Saaiman via second round technical knockout
Four more UFC 282 “Prelims” undercard bouts remain to preview and predict, including the Octagon debut of 18-year-old Contender Series graduate, Raul Rosas Jr. Same time tomorrow, Maniacs.
Remember that MMAmania.com will deliver LIVE round-by-round, blow-by-blow coverage of the entire UFC 282 fight card right here, starting with the early ESPN+ “Prelims” matches online, which are scheduled to begin at 6 p.m. ET, then the remaining undercard (on ESPN2/ESPN+) at 8 p.m. ET, before the PPV main card start time at 10 p.m. ET on ESPN+ PPV.
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