Magomed Ankalaev vs Thiago Santos
Magomed Ankalaev continued his winning streak after defeating Thiago Santos in a highly electrified match on Saturday night. The UFC Fight Night 203 main event saw two of the best light heavyweight fighters lock horns in an exhausting five-round match.
The win propels Ankalaev’s career to new heights as he has now become a top contender for the light heavyweight title. The Russian MMA fighter continued his winning streak, creating a new history in the light heavyweight category. The win puts Ankalaev behind legendary light heavyweight champion Jon Jones who has the longest winning streak of 13.
The match had twists and turns in every round, with Santos nearly knocking out in the second round. However, Ankalaev walked home by unanimous decision with final scores of 9-46, 49-46, and 48-47.
As it happened
With both fighters entering the match with fearsome knockout reputations, fans expected a lot of heat from the match. However, both fighters restricted substantive moves in the initial moments of the first round.
Ankalaev was cautious with his approach, while the orthodox Santos landed some calf kicks to disturb Ankalaev’s composure. However, Ankalaev had other plans on his mind, baiting Santos to draw offense while he waited to counter the attack.
Ankalaev’s waiting game did provide him with a possible breakthrough when his counterattack disturbed Santos’ composure. However, the Sledgehammer reset his stance and avoided further damage.
After Ankalaev diffused Santos’ offensive moves with counterattacks, Santos upped his kicking volume to stay beyond Ankalaev’s knockout strikes radar. Santos was more convincing in the second round with occasional kicks and calculated movements.
While Santos continued to trouble Ankalaev with occasional kicks, the Russian MMA fighter landed a head kick that forced Santos to back off. Ankalaev relied on his waiting game and found the perfect counterattack for Santos’ body kicks.
The dying stages of the second round nearly decided the match’s outcome in Santos’ favor. He caught Ankalaev with his left hook, dropping the Russian down. However, Santos couldn’t finish the job as the official siren ended the round.
Santos’ barge of body kicks
After ending the second round on a high, Santos continued troubling Ankalaev with his barge of body kicks in the third round. Although Ankalaev had no answers for the leg kicks, his counters were effective against the former light heavyweight contender.
With two minutes left on the clock, Ankalaev upped his offensive and gathered momentum to land crucial blows on his opponent. The fight turned into a fierce battle as both fighters exchanged lusty blows, including Ankalaev’s spinning back kick.
Santos’ speed advantage was evident in the third round as he used the octagon to good effect. However, Ankalaev’s waiting game and counterattacks ensured that both fighters ended high at the end of the third round.
What happened in the penultimate round?
With the game entering the penultimate round, both players upped their game and took aggressive approaches. The fight turned into a brawl as both fighters erupted with aggressive tactics and stances.
Santos started the offensive with a jumping knee, while Ankalaev changed his tactics and countered Santos with brute force. Ankalaev’s offensive counters forced Santos to change his approach.
With three minutes left in the round, it was clear that Ankalaev had got the better of Santos. His cautious moves and clean body shots ensured he scored crucial points in the fourth round. Ankalaev diffused Santos to land crucial shots, continuing his dominance in the round.
Ankalaev upped his ante in the final minute, driving Santos to the cage. While Santos tried hard to rotate the fence, Ankalaev got a takedown, allowing him to land crucial elbows before the horn ended the round.
The final chapter
After almost ending the fight in the penultimate round, Ankalaev looked like the fresher fighter. The takedown at the dying moments of the previous round shook Santos’ defense and his energy levels dropped.
Both fighters were reluctant to make the first move despite adopting an aggressive approach in the fourth round. While both fighters landed some blows, they failed to deliver knockout strikes.
Ankalaev got a body lock halfway through the round, forcing his opponent to attack the knees. Ankalaev tried to force a takedown, but Santos prevented a clean takedown with a barge of baby knees on his opponent. The Russian fighter was happy with his effort as the final horn ended the match.
The knockout champs failed to deliver their signature move, but the match had some turning points and a few exciting moments for the crowd. After a grueling five-round battle, Ankalaev won the match by unanimous decision.
What happened after the match?
The match extended Ankalaev’s winning streak with eight wins on a trout, while Santos will have to return on his drawing board to develop new tactics.
After the fight, Ankalaev revealed that he expected more aggression from Santos, explaining why he opted for a waiting game throughout the match. He relied more on his grappling and wrestling tactics. Ankalaev also mentioned his will for a light heavyweight title fight.
The UFC Fight Night 203 result may also alter the rankings of both Ankalaev and Santos, with the latter likely to lose his current rankings. On the other hand, Ankalaev may find his way up on the MMA rankings after his successful UFC Vegas 50 stint.
The UFC 203 may not have ended as anticipated, but fans got their money’s worth in this gala Saturday main event at UFC Apex.
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