Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) Light Heavyweight prospects Magomed Ankalaev and Ion Cutelaba ran it back this afternoon (Sat., Oct. 24, 2020) at UFC 254 inside Flash Forum on “Fight Island” in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, after their first encounter was marred in controversy.
The long-standing rematch has been mishandled, delayed or COVID’d four times previously. And it almost fell apart again earlier this week when one of Cutelaba’s cornermen tested positive for coronavirus. Nevertheless, the fight actually happened, and in the end the bad blood finally boiled over in the form of a brutal first round stoppage for Ankalaev.
Ion came out stalking Ankalaev, throwing a front kick to get the action started. Ankalaev followed up with a low kick, with both fighters taking a more cautious approach to the beginning of their second encounter. Ankalaev fired off another hard kick, pumping a jab, but getting clipped with a hard, looping right counter. Ion landed another hard right hand as Ankalaev circled away, looking for an opening. Ion scored with a front kick, but Ankalaev countered with a hard left hook. Ion barreled in looking to land some inside shots, but Ankalaev stepped back and pieced him up before circling away once again. Ankalaev fired a straight left down the middle, but Ion continued chase ... then he got dropped mid-spinning back fist attempt. Ion seemed fine, but then he got sloppy, getting clipped with a one-twon combination that dropped him to the canvas. Ion covered up his face, but Ankalaev was dropping bombs on his face. This time, the referee gave Ion more than enough time to defend himself — way too much time in hindsight — and eventually he was pummeled unconscious with less than one minute remaining in round one.
It was a measured, patient performance from Ankalaev, who can now move on to cracking the Top 15 rankings — and ranked competition — after dealing with Cutelaba-related issues for the better part of 2020.
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