The exchange between Dennis Buzukja and Ryan Castro at the ceremonial weigh-ins Friday lacked pleasantries. Their faces close enough to smell each other’s choice of rehydration beverage, they shared a few words of pre-fight posturing. It ended with Buzukja offering a handshake. Castro declined, and the hand gesture changed.
When the two met again Saturday night in a Bellator 208 lightweight bout at NYCB Live’s Nassau Coliseum, the open hand became a closed fist. And many of them thrown by Buzukja landed, resulting in a first-round knockout of Castro.
“Once I felt his power and once I saw the openings I wanted to see and the visualization that I saw, then I knew the fight was in my hands from the first right hand that I landed,” Buzukja said. “The fight went exactly how I visualized.”
Buzukja, a Serra-Longo fighter from Staten Island who now lives in Seaford, controlled the pace of the bout with his strikes in his pro debut. Castro, 26, from Patchogue, rushed at Buzukja with a series of jabs, but Buzukja timed a straight punch perfectly to drop the oncoming Castro.
Castro absorbed a number of strikes while on the ground, but as Buzukja got overzealous trying for the finish, Castro attempted an ankle lock that Buzukja was able to escape.
“Then I realized it’s better to keep the distance and work my range because that’s where I was picking him apart,” Buzukja, 21, said.
He had little trouble getting through Castro’s defense on his feet. Buzukja landed a good amount of strikes and Castro (0-2) was wobbling around the cage as the round wore on.
“Once I caught him on the temple and I saw his legs buckle underneath him, I just picked my shots from there,” Buzukja said.
Buzukja continued pressing forward when he saw the damage his strikes were inflicting. After a series of headshots landed with Castro’s back up against the cage, a final straight right from Buzukja caused referee Dan Miragliotta to step in and end the bout at the 2:53 mark of the first round.
Buzukja said there’s no ill will toward Castro on his part after the fight.
“Now that it’s over, I’ll give him a hug, buy him a drink,” Buzukja said. “It’s nothing personal. It never is.”