There’s making up for lost time and then there’s what Magomed Mustafaev did on Saturday.
Competing for the first time in nearly 900 days, Mustafaev (15-2) reminded everyone why he is one to watch in the 155-pound division, taking Rafael Fiziev (6-1) out with a spinning strike to open the UFC St. Petersburg preliminaries.
Mustafaev was looking to spin and win right out of the gate, catching Fiziev with a glancing kick that put the debuting Kazakh off-balance. That put Mustafaev in the driver’s seat and he never let his foot off the gas, eventually landing a spinning kick to the head that rocked Fiziev even though it was partially blocked. From there, Mustafaev landed several follow-up punches and then backed away before the referee even had time to step in.
The official time of the stoppage was 1:26 of round one.
“I knew the kick would be there and I caught him and came away with the victory,” Mustafaev said of the finishing maneuver in his post-fight interview.
He also used his mic time to call for a rematch with Kevin Lee, who was Mustafaev’s last opponent before being shelved for the past two-plus years.
Mustafaev is now 3-1 in the UFC, with all of those wins coming by way of knockout.
Watch Mustafaev’s big return win above.