Magomed Ankalaev notched another impressive victory this past Saturday, putting on a show at UFC Vegas 84 by delivering a stunning knockout to Johnny Walker in the second round. The win not only settled their score but also fueled Ankalaev’s ambition to face UFC light heavyweight champion Alex Pereira in his next bout.
Following Ankalaev’s victory, Glover Teixeira, Pereira’s long-time coach, hinted on social media that the Russian fighter could be the next challenger for the championship. In response, Ankalaev conveyed his intentions during the post-fight press conference, emphasizing his choice to stand and knock out Walker rather than opting for a ground-and-pound strategy.
Following his main event victory, Ankalaev stated the following:
“I could have come out here today and wrestled against Johnny Walker,” Ankalaev shared through a Russian translator: “I could have taken him down right away and won with my ground-and-pound on the ground, but instead I wanted to send a message. I wanted to stand up and I wanted to knock him out, and that’s what I did.”
Addressing Teixeira’s remarks, Ankalaev asserted his confidence, stating, “Don’t waste your time trying to teach your student how to wrestle or grapple; he’s not going to need it.”
Magomed Ankalaev vs. Alex Pereira?
Ankalaev’s journey in the light heavyweight division has been remarkable, with his only setback being a last-second submission loss to Paul Craig in his UFC debut. Since then, he has built an undefeated streak spanning 12 consecutive fights. Notable among his records are a no-contest against Walker in their initial meeting at UFC 294 and a split draw against Jan Blachowicz at UFC 282.
Reflecting on the draw with Blachowicz, initially intended to determine a new light heavyweight champion, Ankalaev shared, “I’ve been considering myself the champ since that fight.”
Regarding a potential showdown with Pereira, Ankalaev anticipates a thrilling encounter. “If I get to fight against Pereira, I think we’re going to have a great fight. It’s going to be a firefight, it’s going to be an exciting fight, and we’re going to do our job, and I’m going to get my title back because I’m already feeling like a champion.”
However, one significant hurdle remains in Ankalaev’s path – the possibility of Pereira facing former champion Jamahal Hill. Hill secured the light heavyweight title at UFC 283 by defeating Teixeira, but a subsequent injury forced him to relinquish the belt. Ankalaev, however, believes he holds a more compelling case for a title shot than Hill.
“I think here the math works out, the way that I’m more deserving of the belt because I have 10 victories, six of them knockouts, and Jamahal Hill has eight fights total in the UFC,” Ankalaev argued. “So it’s just clear that I’m a more deserving contender than Jamahal Hill.”
As the light heavyweight division navigates its course, Magomed Ankalaev stands firm in his pursuit of championship glory, confident in his abilities and determined to make his case for a shot at the title.
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