A light heavyweight rematch between Magomed Ankalaev and Ion ‘The Hulk’ Cuţelaba looks to finally come to fruition on October 24th. at UFC 254, from Yas Island in Abu Dhabi, UAE.
Twice falling to the wayside already, a re-run between Ankalaev and Cuţelaba was removed from a UFC 252 event in Las Vegas on August 15th. – with the latter forced to withdraw after he tested positive for COVID-19. Then reset for a UFC Fight Night Vegas 8 showcase, the bout was once more cancelled after Cuţelaba provided a second positive novel coronavirus result.
Originally locking horns, Ankalaev took home a controversial opening-minute knockout win over Cuţelaba at UFC Fight Night Newark in February. In a heated albeit brief affair, Ankalaev came away with the victory, after a series of head kicks, which Cuţelaba seemed to parry, ultimately causing referee, Kevin MacDonald to step in and call a halt to the action to the latter’s dismay. News of the latest reworked 205-pound clash was initially reported by ESPN MMA.
Makhachkala native, Ankalaev has scored a 4-1 promotional record since his first walk under the UFC’s banner back in March 2018 at UFC Fight Night London. Originally debuting with a buzzer-beating triangle defeat to Paul Craig, the 28-year-old would go on to secure four straight wins over Marcin Prachnio, Klidson Abreu, Dalcha Lungiambula, and the above noted, Cuţelaba.
Hoping to put prior COVID-19 woes behind him, Moldovan finisher, Cuţelaba has himself notched a 4-4 organizational résumé since his UFC debut back in June 2016 at UFC Fight Night Ottawa. In notable wins, the 26-year-old has bested The Ultimate Fighter 23 finalist, Khalil Rountree Jr. – Gadzhimurad Antigulov, and Henrique da Silva to name a few.
Before his contentious stoppage loss to Ankalaev earlier this year, Cuţelaba suffered losses to one-time light heavyweight title challenger, Glover Teixeira, as well as current middleweight contender, Jared Cannonier of note.