Kennedy Nzechukwu picked up his first UFC win on Saturday, although it probably didn’t happen the way he wanted.
The former Dana White Contender Series veteran earned a unanimous decision over Darko Stosic at UFC on ESPN 5 after the Serbian fighter lost two points in the second and third rounds due to multiple groin strikes. Referee Gary Copeland nearly stopped the fight after the last low blow but ultimately the point deductions cost Stosic the most with the scorecards reading 29-26, 28-27, and 28-27 all in favor of Nzechukwu.
“We trained to push through it,” Nzechukwu said following the victory. “That third groin shot hurt me, I just couldn’t stop for a disqualification. I had to keep going.”
Stosic started the fight strong with a varied striking attack that included several stinging leg kicks as well as an effective boxing arsenal. Towards the end of the opening round, Stosic had Nzechukwu backed up against the cage where he unleashed a flurry that had his opponent in serious trouble.
Nzechukwu survived and then mounted a comeback in the second and third rounds with effective striking while using his long reach to keep Stosic on the end of his punches. Unfortunately, Nzechukwu wasn’t able to really hurt Stosic but he still managed to keep the fight close throughout all 15 minutes.
The difference in the end were those groin shots that paused the fight on three different occasions.
The first drew a strong warning from Copeland, who told Stosic that another low blow—accidental or not—would cost him a point. When the second groin strike landed, Copeland followed through with the point deduction.
The third round saw yet another kick to the groin, this one perhaps harder than all the rest as Nzechukwu was noticeably hobbled after that shot landed. Nzechukwu confirmed he could fight but the referee was once again forced to penalize Stosic for the low blow.
Nzechukwu was dejected by his performance afterwards but he still got the job done while earning his first UFC victory. As for Stosic, he drops to 1-2 in his UFC career.