February of this year feels so long ago and yet I can still remember the first matchup between fan favorites Magomed Ankalaev and Ion Cutelaba. Even before the opening bell, there was chaos. Cutelaba walked across the Octagon to physically confront Ankalaev but before he could the Russian fighter acted in self-defense. While nothing major was thrown or landed before both were separated it set the precedence for what happened next during the fight.
What can only be described as one of the most bizarre, worst stoppages I have watched with my eyes referee Kevin Macdonald very quickly stopped the fight 38 seconds into round 1 with Cutelaba taking very little damage. He was faking being caught and wobbled in a rope a dope sort of way, even throwing his biggest shot so far as the fight getting waved off and Ankalaev along with some controversy was declared the winner by KO/TKO.
Never one to shy away from controversy the brash and usually hot head Cutelaba had this to say on the stoppage and ref Kevin Macdonald post-fight on Instagram.
“I will have to be hit by a train or lightning to knock me out,” Cutelaba wrote. “Do not come at me with these weak and very visible shots that even NASA can see them from the satellite. Everyone beside the referee seen that I was defending very well and counterattacked every shot. My gameplan was very good, my acting as everyone could see it fouled, even the referee.”
Three rematch bouts scheduled then scraped in the past 7-8 months didn’t stop the UFC from rebooking the pair again for a rematch this Saturday at UFC 254, Ankalaev wants to leave no doubt this time around “I wouldn’t say I feel a duty to do so, but I have to finish this” and also added, “The result will be the same, I’m not sure how, but I will get the victory.”
Magomed Ankalaev enters the bout with a 13-1 record as a pro (4-1 UFC) and is on a four-fight winning streak since dropping his UFC debut back in 2018.
Ion Cutelaba enters the bout with a 15-5 record as a pro (4-4 UFC) and is trying to avoid his first 2 fight losing streak in the UFC.
At the time of this article, the betting odds are
MAGOMED ANKALAEV (-280 Moderate favorite)
ION CUTELABA (+230 Moderate Underdog)
My prediction: Round 1 starts with pure chaos, both men trading and landing big shots just as the first one started. This time Cutelaba will catch and drop Ankalaev with a big right hand a couple of mins in and be looking for a big finish the rest of the round. Ankalaev will recover enough to land some good offence late and survive but an easy round 1 for the underdog. Round 2 starts with Ankalaev looking to recover all the way while Cutelaba stays on the hunt for a finish but starts looking too much and finds himself out of place as Ankalaev steps back and lands a huge roundhouse head kick to drop Ion until he is put out with some follow up ground shot and your winner with no controversy By round 2 KO/TKO Magomed Ankalaev.