The second of two light heavyweight showdowns on the UFC 272 card on Saturday found Nicolae Negumereanu and Kennedy Nzechukwu in rather different positions to start the night.
After stumbling out of the gate and losing his promotional debut in 2019, Negumereanu had won his last two bouts, and was looking to add a third. Nzechukwu, on the other hand, had seen a three-fight win streak snapped in his last outing, care of Da Un Jung — a rather nasty stoppage due to elbows.
There was no stoppage Saturday, though it seemed like for a moment, an accidental foul might end the fight early.
Negumereanu opened up with a leg kick, followed by a second and Nzechukwu fired back with the jab. Negumereanu fired off another leg kick but Nzechukwu continued to press forward. Nzechukwu kept firing with the jab and had his left hand loaded waiting to strike. Negumereanu used his movement to keep Nzechukwu guessing. An eye poke to Negumereanu brought a short pause to the action. When the action resumed, Negumereanu came out quickly and pushed Nzechukwu back with multiple combinations punctuated with stiff right hand and followed by another leg kick as the round came to an end.
Negumereanu took control of the centre of the octagon and pressed forward in round two, but Nzechukwu landed a nice counter punch when he closed the distance. Negumereanu continued to press forward and landed the take down, but Nzechukwu was quick to his feet. Negumereanu stuck with Nzechukwu and pressed him into the cage as he continued to work for the take down from the clinch. The ref separated the two as the action slowed and back in the middle of the cage; Nzechukwu started to unload with punches and tagged Negumereanu with a pair of stiff 1-2 combinations. Negumereanu was now bleeding from the nose. He pressed forward but Nzechukwu kept landing with the jab, until Negumereanu sprang forward for the take down. Nzechukwu defended but Negumereanu pressed him into the cage and looked to advance, however the round came to a close before Negumereanu could make anything out of his position.
Nzechukwu came out in the third and looked to land the jab again, and found his mark— but another errant finger to the eye of Negumereanu brought a second halt to the action as the ring side doctor came in to check on Negumereanu. That poke certainly seemed worse than the first.
The fight continued but Nzechukwu lost a point. Negumereanu came out strong after the stoppage and Nzechukwu fired back, landing a hard knee but Negumereanu kept the pressure on and again went for the take down. Nzechukwu defended and found separation. Back in the center of the octagon Nzechukwu found his mark with a hard left hand and followed that with another pair of lefts. Negumereanu kept moving forward and tagged Nzechukwu with a hard right that looked to have stunned Nzechukwu for a moment. Both men now seemed content to stand in the center and trade shots with Negumereanu landing a straight left hand that pushed Nzechukwu back. Negumereanu pushed forward and landed a left hook that hurt Nzechukwu but Nzechukwu fired back just before the ref stepped in at the end of the fight.
There may have been an argument for a draw, but the people’s choice in the fight was Negumereanu, and he captured the split decision victory.
Official Result: Nicolae Negumereanu def. Kennedy Nzechukwu by unanimous decision (29-27, 27-29, 29-27)