Magomed Ankalaev knocked out Johnny Walker in the second round of their UFC Fight Night main event rematch Saturday night, emphatically staking his claim for the next light heavyweight title shot against champion Alex Pereira.
Fight Recap: Ankalaev Overwhelms Walker Before Devastating KO
Ankalaev and Walker first met in October 2020, when their bout ended in a no contest due to an accidental eye poke by Ankalaev. In the rematch, Ankalaev left no doubt by scoring a crushing knockout victory.
The opening round saw Ankalaev dictate the action, using his boxing to land clean punches while Walker looked to attack with kicks. Ankalaev caught a body kick attempt from Walker and tripped him to the mat late in the round.
In round two, Ankalaev dropped Walker with a big right hand behind the ear. Walker somehow survived the onslaught and got back to his feet, but Ankalaev swarmed him with punches against the cage before landing a massive left hand that shattered Walker’s nose and ended the fight at the 3:09 mark.
- Total strikes landed: 32 of 58 (55%)
- Significant strikes landed: 24 of 44 (55%)
- Takedowns: 1 of 3
- Total strikes landed: 12 of 35 (34%)
- Significant strikes landed: 9 of 24 (38%)
- Takedowns: 0 of 0
The victory extends Ankalaev’s winning streak to nine and likely secures him the next light heavyweight title opportunity versus newly crowned champion Alex Pereira.
Ankalaev Calls His Shot for Title Fight With Pereira
In his post-fight interview, Ankalaev made it clear he expects to challenge Pereira for the 205-pound belt next.
“No more running, no more hiding – it’s my title shot,” Ankalaev said. “Alex Pereira and his team, great knockout, see you soon.”
Pereira captured the vacant light heavyweight championship with a TKO of Glover Teixeira at UFC 282 last month. With former champion Jiri Prochazka sidelined due to injury, Ankalaev stands as the clear No. 1 contender after his destruction of Walker.
UFC president Dana White would not commit to Ankalaev being the next title challenger when asked at the evening’s post-fight press conference, but admitted “it makes sense” based on his nine-fight winning streak and dominant performance against Walker.
Many fighters and analysts agreed on social media that Ankalaev has earned his shot:
No more running, no more hiding – it’s my title shot. Alex Pereira and his team, great knockout, see you soon 👊👊 #UFCVegas84
— UFC (@ufc) January 14, 2024
What’s Next For Ankalaev and Walker
All signs point to Ankalaev challenging Pereira later this year, possibly as soon as the UFC’s annual International Fight Week pay-per-view in July.
After two failed attempts to defeat Ankalaev, Walker finds himself well back of title contention. The flashy striker will likely need to string together a few wins over lower-ranked opponents to claw his way back into the discussion.
Fight Night Bonuses and Attendance
In addition to the main event, the UFC awarded $50,000 fight night bonuses to:
- Drew Dober and Abdullah Pashayev for Fight of the Night
- Ode’ Osbourne for Performance of the Night
Official attendance at the UFC Apex was announced as 1,800 with a live gate revenue of $285,000.
So in summary, Ankalaev cemented himself as the top light heavyweight contender with an emphatic knockout of Johnny Walker at UFC Fight Night. All indications are that Ankalaev will challenge new champion Alex Pereira next, possibly as soon as July. It was a definitive performance from Ankalaev to set up a highly anticipated title fight later this year.
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