Nicolae Negumereanu didn’t waste any time.
The Romanian light heavyweight prospect needed just 78 seconds to blast through Ike Villanueva in Saturday’s main-card opener for UFC Vegas 41. Negumereanu (11-1) dropped Villanueva (18-13) early in a brawling exchange with a right hand behind the ear, then rained down follow-up shots until referee Mike Beltran was forced to intervene.
Villanueva complained after the stoppage that Negumereanu’s punches were illegal strikes to the back of the head — and subsequent replays showed that several of the 27-year-old’s shots were at least on the borderline of hitting the back of Villanueva’s head — but ultimately the victory stood for Negumereanu, who defended the legality of his actions.
“I was [hitting] laterally from the side,” he said post-fight through a translator. “That’s what I think I did.”
Replay of Negumereanu’s victory can be seen below.
Negumereanu has now won back-to-back fights under the UFC umbrella after losing his promotional debut to Saparbeg Safarov.
Meanwhile, Villanueva’s slump continues as the American has lost four of his last five appearances inside the octagon, all by KO/TKO.