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Aljamain Sterling believes Rafael Fiziev vs. RDA stoppage was "way too quick"

Aljamain Sterling (L) (via @funkmastermma on Instagram) and Rafael dos Anjos vs. Rafael Fiziev (R) (via @mmamania on Twitter)
Aljamain Sterling (L) (via @funkmastermma on Instagram) and Rafael dos Anjos vs. Rafael Fiziev (R) (via @mmamania on Twitter)

Rafael Fiziev scored an impressive knockout win over Rafael dos Anjos in the main-event at UFC Vegas 58. UFC bantamweight champion Aljamain Sterling, however, believes the fight was stopped too soon.

Fiziev sent the the former champ crashing to the canvas with a flush left hook early in round five. A vicious follow-up shot was enough to get referee Mark Smith to call a stop to the contest at 00:18 of the final frame.

RAFAEL FIZIEV JUST PUT RDA OUT IN ROUND FIVE #UFCVegas58 https://t.co/hW8hwiCsdT

While Sterling lauded Smith's usual acumen, he believes that the latter might have rushed his decision to stop this Saturday night's main event. 'Funkmaster' believes that the former lightweight champion should have been given more time before jumping in. The bantamweight champ wrote on Twitter:

"Marks usually one of the better refs but that stoppage was way too quick. Tough break. Wish we got to see if RDA could recover. Rough ending to a great fight. #UFCVegas58"

Check out the tweet below:

Marks usually one of the better refs but that stoppage was way too quick. Tough break. Wish we got to see if RDA could recover. Rough ending to a great fight. #UFCVegas58

In a follow-up tweet, Sterling reiterated his thoughts, stating that a fighter could recover quickly even after going limp. Regardless, the 32-year also gave Fiziev his due share of credit.

Idk. I feel like fighters go limp all the time and “come-to” really quick. It’s a fight, isn’t it? Take some and give some.I do think RDA was hurt BAD, but I kinda wanted to see “if” he could recover or not. That’s the game we play tho. Game of inches. Great win Fiziev!

Interestingly, the former UFC lightweight champion seemed to protest the stoppage at first. However, when asked if he believed the fight was stopped prematurely, dos Anjos said:

"I don't think so, got to rewatch the tape. I don't think so, he won fair and square."

Watch Rafael dos Anjos' post-fight interview below:

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Rafael dos Anjos' expected grappling-heavy approach was excellently nullified by Rafael Fiziev's impeccable takedown defense. Moreover, 'Ataman' began outclassing the Brazilian in stand-up exchanges and was leading on two scorecards going into the championship rounds.

However, the Brazilian bounced back in round four, finding his target more often on the feet and also landing his first clean takedown. Fans were expecting a nailbiter going into the final round when Fiziev abruptly brought things to a halt with a vicious left hook.


Rafael Fiziev believes he is one fight away from being relevant in title picture

Rafael Fiziev extended his winning streak to six in a row, of which the last five have been bonus winning performances. Currently ranked number ten on the lightweight ladder, 'Ataman' is expected to take over dos Anjos's number seven spot in the next ranking update.

In his post-fight interview, Fiziev issued another strange callout, his victim being tennis icon Rafael Nadal. On a serious note, the surging lightweight asked UFC matchmaker Sean Shelby for a top-five ranked opponent.

The Azerbaijani also believes that he is a single win away from being real close to a shot at UFC gold. Leading up to his bout against dos Anjos, 'Ataman' told Sportskeeda MMA's James Lynch in an exclusive interview:

"I believe, this win, this fight, if I make this all good, this [will be a] big jump for me [for my] title fight. This is a big jump, and maybe one more fight, and then I [will be] really close for [the] title for my dream."

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Edited by David Andrew
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