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Magomed Ankalaev knocks out Johnny Walker in 2nd round of rematch

Any controversy between Magomed Ankalaev and Johnny Walker came to an emphatic end on Saturday, as Ankalaev scored a vicious knockout over Walker at the UFC’s Apex facility in Las Vegas.

Ankalaev (19-1-1) knocked out Walker (21-8) with a pair of right hands at the 2:42 mark of the second round on Saturday, in a rematch of a fight that ended in a no contest in October. That initial meeting was waved off in the opening round when Ankalaev hurt Walker with an accidental illegal knee. The inconclusive result led to the UFC rebooking the 205-pound matchup to headline its first UFC Fight Night of 2024.

Ankalaev, of Russia, delivered a statement in the rematch. He dropped Walker with a right hand midway through the second round and followed it with a devastating follow-up shot that quickly brought in referee Marc Goddard for the stoppage.

“I was prepared for this fight for a long time,” Ankalaev said, through a Russian interpreter. “I was ready for this fight back [at UFC 294 in October], and I wanted the rematch right away. This is not what is important, though. The most important thing is that I’m ready for the title. Give me the title fight now.”

It has been a strange road for Ankalaev in recent years, as he is now undefeated in 11 successive fights in the UFC but has not held a championship.

He fought former champion Jan Blachowicz to a split draw in a fight for the vacant title in 2022. His only appearance of 2023 was the no contest versus Walker, meaning he has not really gained any ground toward a UFC championship despite not suffering a loss.

He certainly looked the part of a UFC title challenger on Saturday. Walker, who is from Brazil and trains out of Conor McGregor’s home gym of SBG Ireland, showed some threats early on with his trademark unpredictability and explosiveness, but Ankalaev was more or less in control the entire fight. He out-landed Walker only in total strikes, 39 to 30, according to UFC Stats, but he routinely took the center of the Octagon and forced Walker to fight at his preferred pace and distance.

His follow-up shot right hand after the knockdown had devastating results. Walker’s nose appeared badly damaged in the aftermath of the fight.

Ankalaev’s UFC record improves to 10-1-1. His only loss came via submission in the final second of a bout against Paul Craig in his UFC debut in 2018 — a bout he had dominated up to that point. Walker, 31, suffers his first loss since his February 2022 bout versus former champion Jamahal Hill. At the moment, current light heavyweight champion Alex Pereira does not have his next title defense booked.

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