Nassourdine Imavov defends referee stoppage after controversial win over Jared Cannonier

Nassourdine Imavov has defended Jason Herzog over the ending of Saturday’s UFC main event, after the referee was widely accused of stepping in early to deal Jared Cannonier a loss.

Imavov wobbled Cannonier with a one-two in the fourth round, having fought his way back into the contest after a slow start, and the Frenchman began to pour on further strikes as the American retreated.

Herzog soon waved off the Fight Night headline bout, heralding a TKO victory for Imavov in Louisville, but Cannonier seemed cognisant at the time of the stoppage.

Cannonier, 40, was quick to complain to Herzog, who tweeted shortly after the fight: “I get it. I know what I was seeing in the moment, but I’ve gotten enough feedback telling me I need to reevaluate, so I will.”

However, 28-year-old Imavov defended the American official in his post-fight press conference, saying Herzog did “absolutely not” make the wrong decision.

“It’s the job of the referee to decide if a fighter is able to keep going or not,” Imavov said via a translator. “[Cannonier] already took a lot of damage. He would have taken even more if the fight continued, so I think it was the right decision to stop it.

“It was exactly what I was looking for, I was looking for a finish. I would be lying if I said that an early[-round] stoppage wouldn’t be better, but the thing is, it takes some time to finish someone.

“What I’m happy with is: A lot of people critiqued my cardio, and in this fight I proved that my cardio is very good, finishing him in the fourth round.”

The result was Imavov’s second straight win, after the Frenchman outpointed Roman Dolidze in February.

Meanwhile, Cannonier’s own two-fight win streak was halted, following points victories over Sean Strickland and Marvin Vettori – in December 2022 and June 2023 respectively.