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UFC Louisville: Entertaining Evening Ends With Controversial Stoppage An entertaining

In the opening moments of the fourth round of Saturday’s middleweight main event, Nasordin Imavov hit Jared Cannonier with a shot that unsettled the Top 5 contender, forcing the promising Parisian to push forward in search of the finish. As he landed a series of shots that forced Cannonier to back away and look for safety, referee Jason Herzog intervened and stopped the action. Cannonier immediately protested, the crowd immediately started doing the Bronx Cheer, and the biggest win of Imavov’s career was immediately marked with an asterisk. Herzog is one of the best officials in the sport, but most believe he made a mistake on Saturday night. Cannonier was still on his feet and covering himself to protect himself when Imavov was in the crowd. But the way the fight ended doesn’t diminish the overall quality of Imavov’s performance on Saturday night, as the 29-year-old took the best of what Cannonier offered, found his range and rhythm and then began to grind down the former middleweight title challenger as the bout wore on.

Though he wasn’t a lauded prospect when he came to the UFC in the fall of 2020, Imavov has made his way up the middleweight ranks, posting a 6-2 record with one no contest decision in his first nine appearances, and forced his way into the title discussion with his strong performance despite the questionable stoppage on Saturday evening.

When asked his thoughts on where he stands in the division after the contest, Imavov lobbied for the opportunity to face former champion Sean Strickland, who scored a unanimous decision win over Paulo Costa at UFC 302 last weekend. Strickland has said he wants to wait for a championship opportunity, but this bout certainly makes sense in terms of each man’s position in the middleweight hierarchy at the moment.

Former light heavyweight title challenger Dominick Reyes scored his first win in over four years in the evening’s co-main event, stopping divisional veteran Dustin Jacoby in two minutes.

Jacoby was pressing forward, picking his spots and backing Reyes into the fence when the 34-year-old turned Jacoby’s legs into rubber with a left hook. Reyes followed him, landed a big knee to the dome in the clinch, and the finish came shortly thereafter.

It was an emotional moment for Reyes, who many believe had done enough to defeat Jon Jones and win the light heavyweight title at UFC 253 in February 2020. That controversial decision did not go in his favor, and Reyes was stopped in each of his next three outings, leaving many to wonder what the future holds for the former contender. Finishing Jacoby halted his decline and has Reyes headed in the right direction for the second half of the year, where several new bouts await him in the 205-pound ranks.

It was a small step up in competition for “El Niño Problema” and he showed signs of growth, dealing with moments of adversity and battling the quality of Turcios before finally working his way to his back and locking the choke midway through the second round.

Rosas Jr. has been under scrutiny since signing with the UFC as a 17-year-old following a win on Dana White’s Contender Series but gaining experience at the highest level and learning to deal with the challenges presented on the sport’s biggest stage will help the rising bantamweight grow both inside and outside the cage. Bruno Ferreira and Zachary Rees exploded early on the main card, with each middleweight scoring impressive first-round wins. Ferreira took on Dustin Stoltzfus in a chaotic fight, finishing things with a spinning back elbow in the final stages of the round to earn his second first-round finish of the year and third in four fights in the UFC. In a pre-fight match, Reis took just 20 seconds to knock down Julian Marquez before he followed up with a hard left body kick followed by a right uppercut that knocked Marquez’s lights out and sent him falling backwards to the canvas. Although neither is anywhere close to competitive at this point as they are both in the early days of their respective UFC journeys, they are both proving to be all-action, must-watch fighters in the 185-pound weight class, win or lose.

Ludovit Klein continued his undefeated march in the lightweight division in the final preliminary card bout of the evening, putting on his best performance to date in the UFC and cleaning up the scorecards against Thiago Moises. The 29-year-old from Slovakia stunned his Brazilian counterpart on a couple of occasions, using a different weapon each time, showing superb defensive wrestling to pick up his third straight win and extend his undefeated streak to six. After going 1-2 in his first three UFC outings at featherweight – and missing weight for his short-notice debut – Klein moved up to lightweight in 2022 and hasn’t looked back. This bout against Moises was the toughest test of his career and Klein delivered a superb performance, showcasing a diverse arsenal of skills, making a case for another step up in the competition next time out. Carlos Prates ended the series of decisions with a punishing knee to the midsection of Charles Radke on the night at the KFC Yum! Center. A member of last year’s DWCS graduating class, “The Nightmare” looked for the attack throughout the opening round, and after Radke was stung with a straight left hand, he moved forward, landed a heavy knee to Radke’s liver, and ended the bout.