UFC 281: Kiwi Carlos Ulberg earns vicious first-round knockout against Nicolae Negumereanu

Kiwi Carlos Ulberg has made his biggest statement yet inside the Octagon, slaying Nicolae Negumereanu with a lightning first-round knockout in their light-heavyweight clash at UFC 281.

The first of four City Kickboxing fighters in action at New York City, Ulberg raised the curtain at Madison Square Garden in breathtaking fashion, earning a second-straight finish inside the opening round in a display that will garner plenty of attention from the rest of his division.

The performance was the most impressive yet of his relatively young UFC tenure, taking the former King in the Ring's overall mixed martial arts record to 6-1.

Ulberg watches on after landing the fight-ending shot.
Ulberg watches on after landing the fight-ending shot. Photo credit: Getty Images

The 'Black Jag' laid the foundation with a series of heavy lead kicks that left his Romanian opponent clearly compromised only a minute into the contest, the gulf in class between the two readily apparent.

As he mixed in some stiff jabs, the end always appeared imminent and it eventually came at the 1m 16s mark, as he caught Negumereanu on the button with a check left hook that sent him crumbling to the canvas.

Ulberg, 32, immediately pounced with some insurance shots, but none of them were required, as the referee scrambled to intervene, with Negumereanu's lights well and truly out.

His opponent lay prone for several minutes, unable to get to his feet, as announcer Bruce Buffer confirmed the result and raised Ulberg's hand in victory.

The result should lift the Aucklander inside the all-important top-15 rankings in a light-heavyweight division crying out for fresh contenders, which bodes well for a significant step up in competition.

That may come in the form of Alonzo Menifield, whom Ulberg nominated as his next adversary. The 13-3 American also has two emphatic first-round knockouts to his name, most recently finishing veteran Misha Cirkunov last month.

The win set the tone perfectly for this teammates, with Brad Riddell to follow in the preliminary headline fight, Dan Hooker to lead off the pay-per-view action and Israel Adesanya to defend his middleweight crown against Alex Pereira in the main event.

Join us at 2pm Sunday for live updates of UFC 281: Adesanya v Pereira