Be careful what you ask for, Nicolae Negumereanu.
The light heavyweight from Romania grew tired of the chasing a little more than a minute into the first round, so he walked back toward the middle of the octagon and waved Carlos Ullberg to join him there.
Two-plus minutes later, Negumereanu was face down on the canvas as Ullberg kicked off the UFC 281 card at Madison Square Garden on Saturday night with a knockout.
The finish began with a left jab-hook combination by Ullberg (8-1). Negumereanu (13-2), whose left leg was compromised from calf kicks earlier in the round, dropped to the canvas and Ullberg finished the light heavyweight bout with a devastating right hand to the face at the 3:44 mark.
Sound the trumpets!
Huntington’s Matt Frevola walked out to the cage to “Narco”, the trumpet-laden entrance song of Mets closer Edwin Diaz. “He’s the best closer in baseball, and I’m the best closer in the UFC,” Frevola said. “So I had to do it in New York City, represent as a lifelong Mets fan. It’s a great song and it definitely got the crowd going.”
Seungwoo Choi dropped Michael Trizano with a left hook 20 seconds into their featherweight bout. Trizano did the same to Choi for the rare double knockdown. Both fighters stood up quickly and continued to dazzle the crowd with a wild striking fight. It ended with nine seconds left in the first round as New Jersey’s Trizano dropped Choi with a left hook and followed with three ground strikes.
The next double champ?
Alexander Volkanovski, the reigning featherweight champion and owner of a 22-fight win streak (12 in the UFC), gets his chance to add to both of those descriptors and it’ll come in his homeland. Volkanovski will move a weight class to challenge new lightweight champion Islam Makhachev at UFC 284 next February in Perth, Australia. Should Volkanovski beat Makhachev (23-1), who is on an 11-fight win streak,, he’d become the fifth UFC fighter to hold two belts at the same time.
Big Fight City
UFC 281 was a sellout at 20,845 fans, extending the promotion’s streak to 27 consecutive sold-out events. The $11.56 million gate is the fifth highest in UFC history. That yields more than $1,000,000 in tax revenue for the state, which puts the total collected from 15 UFC events in New York since legalization in 2016 to more than $6.2 million.
New Jersey flyweight Erin Blanchfield dominated Molly McCann from the outset, moving through a crucifix into a kimura submission for the finish at the 3:37 mark. Blanchfield outstruck McCann, 111-6. . . . Ryan Spann knocked out Dominick Reyes, a former Stony Brook University football player, with a powerful left jab in the first round of their light heavyweight bout. It’s the fourth straight loss for Reyes. . . . Karolina Kowalkiewicz won a unanimous decision over Silvana Gomez Juarez.