AFTER suffering his first defeat since turning professional at the O2 on Saturday, Jimi Manuwa plans to take some time away from mixed martial arts and the UFC.
World number two light heavyweight Alexander Gustafsson floored Croydon fighter Manuwa – who trained at Keddle’s Gym in St Mary Cray – with a barrage of knees and punches in the second round of the main event at UFC Fight Night London before unloading with forearms to his face and forcing the referee to stop the fight.
While the giant Swede heads towards a rematch with the champion Jon Jones, it’s a slip for Manuwa who went into the fight having won all 14 of his previous professional bouts, with 13 knockouts and one submission.
He said: “I thought the fight was going well. It was a flash knockdown and I felt I could carry on.
“I respect the referee’s decision and I’ll come back stronger.”
He added: “Alex is a great fighter, number two in the world, and I felt good out there. Obviously, it didn’t go my way and it is what it is.”
Early on, the pair traded blows before Gustafsson showed guile to take Manuwa down and try to force a submission.
But the Croydon man fought his way back to his feet by the end of the first round and things looked even until the winning barrage from Gustafsson.
UFC president Dana White officially dubbed the bout the fight of the night.
He said: “The fight was awesome. Those guys were blasting toe-to-toe.
“Manuwa was undefeated – the guy came in here tonight to win the fight, was on the ground, got out of the submission, they stood back up and Alex ended up finishing by knockout.
“He’s an absolute beast and he’s the biggest star in Europe right now. He’s a huge star in America.”
“It was the fight of the night on a card with a lot of great fights.”
Before hopping back in the ring – and he plans to train with Gustafsson for future contests – Manuwa intends to take a break.
He said: “I always said that no matter the outcome of the fight, I wanted to have a good lay off and take a couple of holidays and enjoy life for a bit. We’ll see what happens next.”