UFC Vegas 8’s Magomed Ankalaev Has Changed His Thinking on First Meeting with Cutelaba

Magomed Ankalaev’s opponent this weekend at UFC Vegas 8 is also the last man he faced in the octagon: Ion Cutelaba.

The pair’s first meeting at UFC Norfolk ended in controversy when Cutelaba, apparently staggered after a head kick, suffered a TKO loss. During a follow-up exchange, the ref waved off the fight. But Cutelaba later appeared to have been playing possum, looking to lure Ankalaev in.

The Moldovan was outraged following the call. Ankalaev, at least initially, wasn’t. He felt he the stoppage might have been a bit early, but he clearly had won. But that has changed, he told Cageside Press during this week’s media day.

“I re-watched that fight,” said Ankalaev, who admitted that “after the fight, I believed it was kind of an early stoppage. But after I re-watched it, I’m sure the referee could have let us bang for a little bit longer. That’s the only thing I took from that fight.”

Later, asked specifically whether Cutelaba was rocked, or playing it up, Ankalaev suggested that it was both. “I believe it was both. I know for sure, I connected a bunch, it wobbled him a little, but also I believe he was playing a little bit.”

And so the light heavyweight from Dagestan now seems at peace with the rematch. Excited, even. “I got a little bit excited because of all the media and fan hype for this fight,” he stated. “They want to see the rematch, they want to see the results already.”

Heading into the fight, however, Ankalaev is the picture of calmness. Quite the opposite of how his opponent approached the last bout, sparking a pre-fight confrontation.

For Magomed Ankalaev, however, his demeanor appears similar to what it was before UFC Norfolk. And when it came to preparation, not much has changed either, he said.

“Everything remains the same. All preparation was the same. I’ve got the same goal, which is to win the fight, like all the fights.”

The one difference was travel to America. Specifically the timing. “Now we’re fighting in Vegas, so I came a little bit early,” he revealed. “Last time, I came two weeks before the fight, to the U.S. This time I came like a month before the fight, because of jet lag, and acclimation and everything.”

Watch the full UFC Vegas 8 virtual media day press scrum with Magomed Ankalaev above.