Kiwi light-heavyweight Carlos Ulberg's first official Octagon appearance hasn't gone to plan, with a second-round loss to Kennedy Nzechukwu at UFC 259.
Entering the fight after his eye-catching knockout on the Dana White Contender Series, the hype machine was in full throttle for the City Kickboxing propect's debut, and he looked set to deliver with a devastating opening onslaught that suggested a quick night in the office.
But the Nigerian-American had other ideas, withstanding Ulberg's salvo, before working his way back into the contest and eventually catching his fading opponent with a perfectly placed right hand, then swooping in to force the referee to intervene.
The result capped an impressive comeback from Nzechukwu, fighting for the first time in almost 19 months, and as tough as the loss will be for Ulberg to swallow, at the very least, it was a highly entertaining encounter that will teach the 30-year-old plenty.
The 'Black Jag' seemed almost in too much of a rush to score the statement knockout that many had expected.
His furious kick-based attack to start proceedings had Nzechukwu in dire trouble, as his opponent covered up and soaked up shots at all levels, with referee Herb Dean close to calling a halt to the bout at a couple of stages.
In fact, Nzechukwu didn't fire a single shot until late in the first round, but was able to take advantage of a clearly fatigued Ulberg, who was weary on his stool in between rounds.
In the second round, Ulberg's defences almost completely abandoned him and the 'African Savage' made him pay in ultimate fashion.
But a post-fight bonus for 'Fight of the Night' will soften the blow somewhat, with Ulberg taking home an extra $US50,000 ($NZ69,784).
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