Magomed Ankalaev could have been on his way to a highlight reel finish but now we’ll never know for certain.
While he’ll leave with a knockout win, it probably wasn’t the ending Ankalaev wanted after referee Kevin MacDonald stopped the fight at just 38 seconds into the opening round much to the disapproval of Ion Cutelaba and the Norfolk, Va. crowd.
After Cutelaba actually had to be pulled back to his corner following a physical altercation with Ankalaev during Bruce Buffer’s introductions, the light heavyweights came out throwing heavy leather as soon as the fight got started.
Cutelaba charged forward immediately but it was Ankalaev that started connecting with a barrage of shots including a series of rapid fire head kicks. As the number of strikes mounted, Ankalaev continued pouring on the offense and while Cutelaba was on wobbly legs, he was still throwing punches in return and standing on his feet.
At that moment, MacDonald rushed into wave off the fight and Cutelaba immediately protested as the Virginia crowd rained down boos on the referee for the stoppage.
What do you make of the stoppage in this #UFCNorfolk fight? pic.twitter.com/ijjGwoVjbj— ESPN MMA (@espnmma) March 1, 2020
For his part, Ankalaev knows it’s not his duty to decide when the fight is finished and he will still go home with a knockout win on his record.
“I feel like I hurt him and they stopped the fight. That’s all I know,” Ankalaev said. “It’s not my job. I know I hurt him.”
Cutelaba was definitely hurt but certainly not out on his feet at the moment when the fight was stopped. Unfortunately, he’ll still end his night with a loss after a stunning decision from the referee to stop the fight when he did.