Zuluzinho was seconds away from what could have been a submission victory when the fight’s referee removed him from the mount, asking he and Petr Romankevich to stand up. Seconds later, he was knocked out cold at AMC Fight Nights 114 in Belarus.
Understandably, the Brazilian MMA vet is still upset about it.
“I was shocked,” Zuluzinho said in an interview with MMA Fighting on Monday. “I had the submission locked and thought he was stopping [the fight] to give me the win because something had happened.”
AMC Fight Nights rules allow the referee to stand both fighters up after one minute of action on the ground, even though Zuluzinho was actively working on a kimura. Zuluzinho said he wasn’t aware of such rule going into the match.
With seconds left on the clock in the opening round, Romankevich landed a head kick and a few punches on Zuluzinho before a vicious knee dropped him unconscious on the ground.
“I only found out about [the rule] when my cornerman yelled, ‘You only have one minute on the ground,’ because that same thing happened in a fight earlier that night, and they stopped it when one guy was in advantage,” Zuluzinho said.
The Brazilian said he would still have taken the fight despite the rule, but he would have fought differently.
“I would’ve had a different strategy,” Zuluzinho said. “I would have taken him down and gone for the armbar or kimura right away. Since I only knew it during the fight, I went for the finish at all costs.”
The 44-year-old fighter, son of Brazilian vale tudo legend “Rei Zulu” and opponent of PRIDE legends Fedor Emelianenko and Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira in back-to-back fights in Japan, said he feels “OK” despite the vicious finish and plans to fight on Sept. 24 in Poland.
Scheduled to meet 330-pound Serigne Ousmane Dia “Bombardier,” Zuluzinho said he doesn’t think it’s dangerous to return so soon “because I’m fine, I’m not injured.”
“Knockouts happen,” he added. “We’re fighters, we have to fight. That’s life.”
According to Zuluzinho, MMA Attack officials reached out after this past weekend’s defeat to check on him and request additional MRI scans “to see if I’m good to fight on the 24th.”