Las Vegas, NV — Light heavyweight Magomed Ankalaev spoke in grandiose terms on Wednesday of his pending title shot at UFC 282.
Ankalaev and Jan Blachowicz, himself a former champion at 205lbs, were supposed to serve as the card’s co-main event. But with champion Jiri Prochazka injured and going under the knife to repair his shoulder, Ankalaev vs. Blachowicz was promoted — with the highest stakes possible riding on the fight.
“The day has finally arrived, the day we have waited for for so long,” Ankalaev (18-1) said via translator during Wednesday’s UFC 282 media day. “We will show what we’re worth this Saturday. We will come and take what’s rightfully ours.”
“This fight is my dream. This is my opportunity,” he added later. “I will do whatever I have to do to make sure I come out of the octagon with the title.”
Despite his slow build to title contention, winning nine straight fights prior to Saturday’s card, Ankalaev never doubted that his time would come.
“I never had those thoughts. I basically did step-by-step,” he stated. “I always fought who they put in front of me, I didn’t pick my opponents. And I pretty much knew that at some point they would not have a choice to give me a title fight.”
The next step could very well be the culmination of his journey to UFC gold. There will be further steps after that: Glover Texeira, who declined to fight Ankalaev at UFC 282, opting instead to wait for a title shot with a full camp dedicated to one opponent, is likely next in line.
“I have nothing but respect for Glover, I think he’s a great fighter,” Ankalaev told Cageside Press, asked about Teixeira’s decision to sit out. “That’s the decision he made. Whenever Texeira fights, I’m always rooting for him, no matter who he’s fighting against. So I have nothing but respect for him.”
Magomed Ankalaev faces Jan Blachowicz in the main event of UFC 282 on Saturday, December 10, 2022 at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, NV.