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Magomed Ankalaev feels confident about title fight after first career five rounder.
UFC light heavyweight contender Magomed Ankalaev feels some weight has been lifted off of his shoulders after winning his first five-round main event in the promotion.
Ankalaev controlled Thiago Santos from start to finish, except for a few brief explosions on the feet from Santos at UFC Vegas 50. He was able to use his wrestling in the later rounds to seal the deal on a victory over a former title challenger in Santos.
While Ankalaev wasn’t happy with his overall performance, he was proud of his grit and determination to go five full rounds with one of the UFC’s best. During his UFC Vegas 50 post-fight press conference, he explained how going the distance will prepare him for what could be next.
“My goal was to fight finally the full distance, for the five rounds, to be ready to fight for the title shot,” Ankalaev said. “Now I’m completely confident in myself and I’m ready for the big shot.”
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Magomed Ankalaev put himself near the top of the light heavyweight title conversation
Ankalaev has now won eight in a row and could get a No. 1 contender fight next. He could face the Glover Teixeira vs. Jiri Prochazka winner by the end of 2022 for the title shot.
A matchup with another top contender, Anthony Smith, could make a lot of sense for Ankalaev’s next outing. But he may also wait to fight the winner of Jan Blachowicz vs. Aleksandar Rakic for a No. 1 contender spot.
Ankalaev has plenty of options for his next UFC outing, and the 29-year-old could be well on his way towards a potential light heavyweight title opportunity.