Canadian bantamweight Aiemann Zahabi ends losing streak with big UFC knockout

Aiemann Zahabi, right, from Montreal battles Reginaldo Vieira from Brazil in bantamweight action at UFC Fight Night in Halifax on Sunday, Feb. 19, 2017. Zahabi won the decision. (Andrew Vaughan/CP)

LAS VEGAS -- Canadian bantamweight Aiemann Zahabi knocked out Drako (The Great Drakolini) Rodriguez in the first round on the undercard of a UFC Fight Night show Saturday.

Rodriguez had been pushing the early pace but Zahabi felled him with a right to the jaw and then finished him off with a couple of blows on the ground. The fight was stopped after three minutes five seconds with Rodriguez still receiving treatment on his stool when Zahabi's arm was raised.

The knockout earned Zahabi a US$50,000 performance bonus from the UFC.

The two were originally slated to meet in December. But Zahabi, a 33-year-old from Laval, Que., who is the younger brother of renowned trainer Firas Zahabi, had to pull out after testing positive for COVID-19.

"I feel fantastic," Zabai said afterwards. "I used to think winning in the UFC was great. But you know what feels even better? Breaking a two-fight losing streak, winning in the UFC with a knockout."

Zahabi (8-2-0) had lost two straight since defeated Reginaldo Vieira by decision in February 2017. He dropped a decision to Vince (Vandetta) Morales in May 2019 and was knocked out by Ricardo (Carcacinha) Ramos at UFC 217 in November 2017.

The 24-year-old Rodriguez (7-2-0) was making his UFC debut after earning a contract with a win over Leomana Martinez in Dana White's Contender Series last September.

Rodriguez missed weight Friday, coming in at 140.5 pounds, 4.5 pounds over the bantamweight limit. Zahabi weighed 136 pounds.

The heavyweight main event at the UFC's Apex production facility saw No. 4 Derrick (The Black Beast) Lewis knock out No. 2 Curtis (Razor) Blaydes in the second round.

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