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Magomed Ankalaev outpoints Thiago Santos in a striking chess match.
It wasn’t the barnburner that most expected, but UFC light heavyweight contender Magomed Ankalaev was able to seize the moment and defeat Thiago Santos in the UFC Vegas 50 headliner.
Ankalaev controlled the octagon from the opening minutes of the fight, forcing Santos to retreat and counter rather than explode with his hands. Ankalaev was able to utilize his range and outpoint Santos on the feet throughout five rounds.
Santos briefly came alive at the end of Round 2, scoring a big knockdown that appeared to badly hurt Ankalaev. But, he was unable to replicate the same success in the later rounds.
In Rounds 4 and 5, Ankalaev was able to damage Santos in the clinch and on the ground. After five rounds, Ankalaev earned the win on the judges’ scorecards via a unanimous decision.
Magomed Ankalaev could earn a title shot by the end of 2022
Santos entered his second-straight UFC main event looking to earn a second straight win after outlasting Johnny Walker last October. Before that, he had lost three-straight bouts, including to Jon Jones for the light heavyweight title at UFC 239.
Once thought of as a top light heavyweight title contender following Jones’ vacant of the belt, Santos had struggled in No. 1 contender bout against Glover Teixeira and Aleksandar Rakic.
Ankalaev burst onto the scene into his first UFC main event at UFC Vegas 50 following lopsided wins over Nikita Krylov and Volkan Oezdemir. He had won seven straight entering the bout with Santos.
At 29-years-old, many have speculated that Ankalaev possesses the elite talent and the potential to hold the light heavyweight title at some point in his career.
The win over Santos puts Ankalaev right in the light heavyweight title picture and could face the winner of Teixeira vs. Jiri Prochazka later this year. Former champion Jan Blachowicz and Rakic will also square off in a potential No. 1 contender fight at a later date.