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UFC Fight Night predictions — Magomed Ankalaev vs. Johnny Walker: Fight card, start time, odds, live stream

Magomed Ankalaev and Johnny Walker meet for a second time in search of a conclusive ending. Ankalaev vs. Walker headlines UFC Fight Night at the UFC Apex in Las Vegas on Saturday three months after an illegal knee stopped their first fight.

Ankalaev (18-1-1) has had an unusual 18 months. Ankalaev left UFC 282 empty-handed after drawing Jan Blachowicz in a vacant UFC light heavyweight title fight in December 2022. His rebound against Walker at UFC 294 in October ended via no-contest after Ankalaev hit his downed opponent with a knee. Ankalaev has become a bit of an afterthought in the 205-pound title race without accruing a loss, but he is partly to blame. He struck Walker with an egregious illegal blow after all. Ankalaev dismissed Walker’s allegations that it was intentional, chalking it up to poor timing while questioning Walker’s toughness.

“He’s going to say whatever he’s going to say because, at that moment, he basically dropped the fight,” Ankalaev told CBS Sports through a translator. “He didn’t want to fight anymore. It’s not the first time a strike like that has been thrown in the UFC. There have been other moments where someone got up with a knee of that sort and got up and continued to fight. But he pretty much knew he had to get out at that point so that’s why he dropped the fight.”

Check out the full interview with Magomed Ankalaev below.

Walker (21-7) has been floating in the middle of the UFC light heavyweight rankings for years now. He struggled for a long time after snapping an exciting three-fight finishing stretch in his early UFC days. The pieces are coming together now with Walker on a new winning streak heading into the first Ankalaev fight. Walker unfortunately did not get a chance to further his case for a title shot. The cage-side doctor waved off the bout after Walker absorbed the illegal blow despite his protests. Naturally, Walker took issue with Ankalaev questioning his heart.

“If you want to play by the rules, I don’t have to worry about a knee to the face when I have three limbs on the floor,” Walker told CBS Sports in response to Ankalaev. “I was ready to fight by the rules. If you don’t want to fight with rules, take the rules out and I’ll sign up without rules. Then I’m going to soccer kick, I’m going to punch him in the balls and I’m going to poke him in the eyes. I don’t care.”

Check out the full interview with Johnny Walker below.

Saturday’s fight card took a hit on the scales on Friday. Manel Kape was scheduled to take on Matheus Nicolau in an important flyweight contest as both look to make their way to title contention. Unfortunately, Kape missed weight by 3.5 pounds and the fight was eventually canceled. Kape had the same issue in 2021 when he missed weight by a similar margin, though the fight did proceed and he finished Ode Osbourne by first-round knockout. 

Still, though a pair of longtime veterans are looking to continue their MMA journeys in the win column on Saturday night. Look no further than lightweight Jim Miller, who will take on Gabriel Benitez. Miller will extend his record for most UFC appearances when he makes the walk to the Octagon for the 43rd time. The veteran who has competed at UFC 100 and 200 is still hopeful to make his way on to the landmark 300 event in April with a win over Benitez. Plus, another longstanding fixture at heavyweight makes his return on Saturday when Andrei Arlovski takes on Waldo Cortes-Acosta. Arlovski is right there with Miller for most appearances in UFC history and has the distinction of being UFC heavyweight champ all the way back in 2005.

Can’t get enough boxing and MMA? Get the latest in the world of combat sports from two of the best in the business. Subscribe to Morning Kombat with Luke Thomas and Brian Campbell for the best analysis and in-depth news, including a complete preview of UFC Fight Night in Las Vegas below.

Below is the rest of the fight card for Saturday with the latest odds before we get to a prediction and pick on the main event.

UFC Fight Night card, odds

Favorite Underdog Weight class
Magomed Ankalaev -550 Johnny Walker +400 Light heavyweight
Jim Miller -155 Gabriel Benitez +130 Lightweight
Ricky Simon -190 Mario Bautista +160 Bantamweight
Brunno Ferreira -125 Phil Hawes +105 Middleweight
Waldo Cortes-Acosta -800 Andrei Arlovski +550 Heavyweight

UFC Fight Night viewing information

Date: Jan. 13 | Start time: 7 p.m. ET (main card)
Location: UFC Apex — Las Vegas
TV channel: ESPN+

Prediction

Magomed Ankalaev vs. Johnny Walker: Walker has made significant advances in his game, but Ankalaev is too well-rounded. Ankalaev looked comfortable managing Walker’s dynamic style in their first fight for as short as it was. Walker’s height and reach work wonders at range, but it means opponents can get to his legs more easily. Ankalaev managed that range well in their first meeting and has a chin that can hold up to Walker’s power. Ankalaev has never been knocked out in 20 professional fights and dropped only once in 12 UFC fights. The bigger problem is Ankalaev’s fight IQ. It’s cursed him on occasion. Getting submitted by Paul Craig at 14:59 of a fight Ankalaev was dominating, disqualifying himself against Walker and not capitalizing dominant positions against Blachowicz come to mind. Fortunately, his poor judgment peeks through when he’s generally in safe positions. I don’t think Walker will find an opening big enough to capitalize. Ankalaev has no career submissions and I don’t think he’ll get one on Saturday. He’ll stay outside of Walker’s range, time a clinch and eventually score a takedown. A ground-and-pound TKO or decision seems most likely. Ankalaev via TKO3

Who wins UFC Fight Night: Ankalaev vs. Walker 2, and how exactly does each fight end? Visit SportsLine now to get detailed picks on UFC Fight Night, all from the MMA expert who profited more than $6,200 in 2022, and find out. 

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