Ion Cutelaba has had a heck of a time finally getting back in the cage with Magomed Ankalaev.
The pair throw down this weekend at UFC Vegas 8, in a fight that Cutelaba (15-5, 1NC), not to mention any number of fans, has been anticipating ever since the pair first met earlier this year. That meeting, at UFC Norfolk, came to what many saw as a premature end when the ref waved off the fight just as it was getting going. The official believed Cutelaba to be hurt, out on his feet, though replays showed that despite taking some damage, he appeared to be playing up the impact to draw Ankalaev in.
A rematch was scheduled for April, then canceled due to the coronavirus pandemic. A fight with Ovince Saint Preux was lined up, a week later, but that was scratched as well. The Moldovan was then paired up with Ankalaev again earlier this month, only to test positive for COVID-19.
The coronavirus, however, “was not a big problem,” he told Cageside Press during the UFC Vegas 8 media day this week. “The virus, after two days, was gone from my body. I was training hard, with hard intensity. Don’t worry, I’m feeling good, I’m ready to fight.”
Despite all the scheduling difficulties, Cutelaba never wavered in his desire to run the fight with Ankalaev back. “From the beginning after the first time, everybody saw the fight, it was not the right result,” he said via translator. “I wanted this fight, to finish, because it was not the right stoppage. I want everybody around the world to see the right fight. I want this fight with all my heart, to show everyone who is the best.”
Asked whether he might have a change in game plan, given what happened in the pair’s first fight, Cutelaba replied “changes make us better than yesterday. Of course I have changes, and you’ll see my changes on Saturday night.”
It’s clear Cutelaba just wants to get his second chance with Ankalaev. The lasting impression of that first right was the enraged, incredulous Moldovan reacting after the stoppage. And he doesn’t intend for that to happen a second time. Instead he plans on getting the finish himself. Saying he expects “nothing” from Ankalaev this time around, he stated “I know one thing: This fight is going to be ended on Saturday night.”
Watch the full UFC Vegas 8 virtual media day press scrum with Ion Cutelaba above.