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Cutelaba on controversial stoppage: Pretending to be hurt was ‘part of the game plan’

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Ion Cutelaba talks about his controversial stoppage loss to Magomed Ankalaev at UFC Norfolk.

MMA: UFC Fight Night-Norfolk-Cutelaba vs Ankalaev Peter Casey-USA TODAY Sports

There was a bit of controversy during one of the main card fights at UFC Norfolk on Saturday. Light heavyweight Magomed Ankalaev was awarded a first-round TKO win over Ion Cutelaba, a stoppage that was met by objection from the crowd in attendance.

Ankalaev was moving forward in the exchange with head kicks. Cutelaba remained on his feet and countering with his own shots when one of his opponents left hands connected and appeared to have hurt him.

Seeing the Moldovan fighter seemingly wobbled, the referee immediately took action to step in and stop the fight. Cutelaba violently reacted to the call, as the arena erupted in boos from the crowd.

Speaking through his translator during a backstage interview with ESPN, Cutelaba explained his side of the story.

“When it’s two fighters on this level and they came here to fight and show the world a good fight, it doesn’t matter, one round, three rounds, 40 seconds – let them fight,” Cutelaba said (via MMA Fighting). “That referee, he doesn’t know how to do that. They have to (have) another referee to control this kind of fight.

“I came all the way from Moldova, 14 or 15, to show the world I am the best, and the referee didn’t leave me to fight. Every (strike) that my opponent did, I controlled it. When the referee stopped the fight, I was countering. This was a part of the game plan, and the referee thought I fell. But that was part of the game plan.

“When they stopped it, I was fighting him,” he added.

Cutelaba now drops to a record of 15-5 (with 1 NC and 14 wins by stoppage).