UFC 284: Islam Makhachev denies Alex Volkanovski, keeps lightweight belt in thrilling battle with featherweight champ
- Volkanovski challenged Makhachev for the lightweight belt in the main event of UFC 284 on Sunday morning in Perth, Australia
- Lightweight champion retained his title with a unanimous decision, but both men had their moments in a fight that will stand the test of time
Islam Makhachev is still the UFC lightweight champion, but Alexander Volkanovski gave him the toughest fight of his career to date.
Russia’s Makhachev, the star pupil of MMA legend Khabib Nurmagomedov, defended the lightweight title against the featherweight champion Volkanovski in the main event of Sunday morning’s UFC 284 event in Perth, Australia.
The two men were considered the best pound-for-pound fighters in the UFC ahead of time, adding extra intrigue and significance to what was already a riveting champion versus champion clash.
And in the end, their fight surpassed all expectations.
From the opening bell, it was clear they were very evenly matched, as the local hero Volkanovski proved he could more than handle Makhachev’s vaunted grappling game, and Makhachev proved he was well prepared for the featherweight champion on the feet – contrary to most pre-fight expectations.
Both men had big moments in the fight, but after five rounds, the three cage-side judges all scored it for Makhachev, with scores of 48-47, 48-47, and 49-46.
The win pushes Makhachev, 31, to an impressive 24-1 as a pro fighter. The Dagestan native won the lightweight belt late last year, when he defeated Charles Oliveira by submission.
The 34-year-old Volkanovski, meanwhile, is now 25-2 overall. With his lightweight title dreams temporarily dashed, he will now return to the featherweight division, where he has already defended the belt four times – and it is already clear who will provide his next challenge.
In the UFC 284 co-main event, Mexico’s Yair Rodriguez (15-3) defeated American Josh Emmett (18-3) by second-round submission to claim the interim featherweight belt.
The interim title was created to keep the division moving in Volkanovski’s stead – particularly if he decided to extend his stay at the lightweight division. After the champion lost to Makhachev, however, he will shift his focus back to his native weight class, and unifying the title with Rodriguez.
Earlier in the night, Australia’s Jack Della Maddalena asserted himself as one of the welterweight division’s brightest young prospects, submitting Jamaican-American contender Randy Brown with a first-round choke – quite a feat considering he was known as a knockout puncher heading into the fight.
See the complete results for the event in Australia below.
Islam Makhachev def. Alexander Volkanovski via unanimous decision
Yair Rodriguez def. Josh Emmett via second-round submission (triangle choke)
Jack Della Maddalena def. Randy Brown via first-round submission (rear-naked choke)
Justin Tafa def. Parker Porter via first-round KO
Jimmy Crute vs. Alonzo Menifield ruled a majority draw
Modestas Bukauskas def. Tyson Pedro via unanimous decision
Joshua Culibao def. Melsik Baghdasaryan via second-round submission (rear-naked choke)
Kleydson Rodrigues def. Shannon Ross via first-round TKO
Jamie Mullarkey def. Francisco Prado via unanimous decision
Jack Jenkins def. Don Shainis via unanimous decision
Loma Lookboonmee def. Elise Reed via second-round submission (rear-naked choke)
Blake Bilder def. Shane Young via unanimous decision
Elves Brenner def. Zubaira Tukhugov via split decision