DHABI, ABU Islam Makhachev and Alexander Volkanovski’s first bout took place in February and was a traditional five-round fight that saw both fighters have great success. The second fight, which took place on Saturday inside Etihad Arena at UFC 294, was all Makhachev’s.
With a dominant first round knockout of featherweight champion Volkanovski (26-3) at 3:06, Makhachev (25-1) successfully defended his 155-pound lightweight title. Makhachev’s feat of 13 wins in a row ties him for third place in UFC history, three victories short of Anderson Silva’s record of 16 wins in a row. That was Volkanovski’s first victory in a fight since his fourth contest in 2013.
Even more remarkable is the outcome, given that Volkanovski entered the battle with just eleven days’ notice. Charles Oliveira was scheduled to face Makhachev, however Oliveira withdrew because of a cut on his face sustained during training.
“I showed him the low kick, body kick then I just changed to the high kick,” Makhachev stated. “We trained Oliveira and Volkanovski in this manner over the past few months, and nothing changed. I would like to express my gratitude to [Volkanovski], a true champion. He’s not going to give up and will fight through all five rounds. He truly is a champion.”
Australia’s Volkanovski is still the 145-pound champion. His five title defenses in the last three years have earned him a shot to become a two-weight champion twice in 2023, according to the UFC. The 35-year-old stated in his postfight remarks that he wanted to keep working hard and keep defending his featherweight title despite the loss.
Volkanovski remarked, “Obviously, it was a great setup, a good kick.” It aches for me. He’s a fantastic winner. How about you? I always stand by my own side. Bravo to him. I would just like to ask the UFC to kindly keep me occupied.”
The two squared up at UFC 284 in February in Perth, Australia, Volkanovski’s home state. By unanimous vote, Makhachev prevailed, but Volkanovski went above and beyond by blocking the Dagestani champion’s wrestling. To the joy of the Australian audience, he ended the bout on a high note by going all out on offense. After the defeat, Volkanovski called for a rematch right away, and he was still regarded by many as the best fighter in the world pound-for-pound.
Both combatants worked in the clinch at first during Saturday’s bout, but Makhachev broke off and turned Volkanovski in the direction of the fence. The bout was effectively over the moment the left head kick landed clean. Volkanovski tried to get back up, but Makhachev followed him to the canvas to fire additional shots. He was pushed against the fence, and the fight was soon declared void.
Ilia Topuria, who weighs 145 pounds, is anticipated to be Volkanovski’s next opponent. Justin Gaethje, the last temporary champion, or Oliveira are Makhachev’s alternatives.