Imavov serves notice with of TKO vs. Cannonier

Nassourdine Imavov earned the biggest win of his UFC career on Saturday, defeating former title challenger Jared Cannonier by TKO in the fourth round.

Imavov (14-4) finished Cannonier (17-7) with punches along the fence at 1:34 of the fourth round in their middleweight main event inside KFC Yum! Center in Louisville, Kentucky.

It was a solid performance by Imavov, although there was some controversy over the finish. Imavov hurt Cannonier with a right hand and had him in trouble along the fence, although veteran referee Jason Herzog did appear to be a little quick in stopping the bout. Cannonier was still very aware and immediately protested the stoppage.

Cannonier was up on two of the three judges’ scorecards entering Round 4.

“I was ready to continue the fight,” Imavov said through an interpreter. “The referee, that’s his job. That’s what he does on a daily basis, so I think he made the right decision. But I was ready to keep going.”

Whether the stoppage was premature or not, Imavov was impressive in his third UFC main event. He looked comfortable standing in the pocket with Cannonier and converted two of three takedown attempts to mix up his offense. Cannonier landed some good elbows and punches on the inside in what was a very competitive bout, but Imavov’s offense in the fourth round was the most significant of the fight.

Imavov improved to 2-0 this year, with two big wins over Roman Dolidze and Cannonier. He called for former 185-pound champion Sean Strickland in France, although it’s worth noting Strickland has said he plans to wait for a title shot.

Cannonier, who returned from a torn MCL last year, suffered his first loss since he came up short to then-champion Israel Adesanya in July 2022. Going into Saturday’s bout, Cannonier was ranked No. 4 in the UFC’s middleweight division, while Imavov was No. 7.

In the co-main event, former light heavyweight title challenger Dominick Reyes (13-4) snapped a four-fight losing streak against Dustin Jacoby. Reyes challenged Jon Jones for the 205-pound championship in 2020 and fought him to a close decision loss. Following that defeat, however, he lost his next three all by knockout. A clean left hand and knee up the middle finally earned Reyes his first victory since October 2019.

Raul Rosas Jr. (9-1), the 19-year-old phenom, picked up his third win in the UFC with a submission victory over Ricky Turcios.

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