UFC 284 Report: Islam Makhachev defeats Alexander Volkanovski to retain UFC Lightweight Championship

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UFC 284 Report: Islam Makhachev defeats Alexander Volkanovski to retain UFC Lightweight Championship

On Saturday night, UFC 284 took place from the RAC Arena in Perth, Australia. The card was headlined by UFC Lightweight Champion, Islam Makhachev, attempting to defend his title against the UFC’s Featherweight Champion and pound-for-pound king, Alexander Volkanovski. Volkanovski has had one of the truly great runs in the sport since making his UFC debut in 2016, accumulating a total record of 12-0 in the promotion, defeating the likes of Jose Aldo, Brian Ortega, and Max Holloway (three times) along the way. After defending his UFC Featherweight Championship for a fourth time in July of 2022, it was decided that Volkanovski would move up to challenge for the UFC Lightweight Championship, a title that Islam Makhachev would claim in October of 2022 after submitting Charles Oliveira in the second round. With a total record of 12-1 in the UFC, Makhachev has been a dominant force at lightweight, dominating the vast majority of his opponents in impressive fashion. His size and dominance made him a considerable favorite over the smaller Volkanovski, but despite the odds, this was about as high level of a fight as you will ever see in the sport on paper, with the UFC’s two top pound-for-pound ranked fighters facing off. With Volkanovski fighting up at lightweight, the UFC decided to introduce an interim title to the featherweight division, and in the co-main event, Yair Rodriguez fought Josh Emmett to determine the division’s interim champion. Emmett had won five consecutive fights to earn the opportunity, defeating Calvin Kattar by split decision in his last bout. Rodriguez was coming into this fight following a quick stoppage victory over Brian Ortega, a fight that was stopped in the first round after Ortega injured his shoulder. While Rodriguez hasn’t been able to really chain together a lengthy win streak since hiss loss to Frankie Edgar in 2017, he’s always been an impressive talent, and this was sure to be an entertaining fight. 

The commentary team for this card consisted of Jon Anik, Michael Bisping, and Dominick Cruz. Performance of the Night bonuses were awarded to Yair Rodriguez and Jack Della Maddalena. Fight of the Night bonuses went out to Alexander Volkanovski and Islam Makhachev. The announced attendance for this event was 14,124, with a total gate of $5,911,598 AUD.



  • Elves Brener def. Zubaira Tukhugov by split decision (29-28, 30-27, 28-29)
  • Blake Bilder def. Shane Young by unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 29-28)
  • Loma Lookboonmee def. Elise Reed by rear naked choke at 0:44 of Round 2
  • Jack Jenkins def. Don Shainis by unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 29-28)
  • Jamie Mullarkey def. Francisco Prado by unanimous decision (30-27 all)
  • Kleydson Rodrigues def. Shannon Ross by TKO at 0:59 of Round 1
  • Josh Culibao def. Melsik Baghdasaryan by rear naked choke at 2:02 of Round 2
  • Modestas Bukauskas def. Tyson Pedro by unanimous decision (30-27, 29-28, 29-28)


  • Jimmy Crute vs. Alonzo Menifield resulted in a Majority Draw (29-27, 28-28, 29-28)
  • Justin Tafa def. Parker Porter by KO at 1:06 of Round 1
  • Jack Della Maddalena def. Randy Brown by rear naked choke at 2:13 of Round 1
  • Yair Rodriguez def. Josh Emmett by triangle choke at 4:19 of Round 2 to win the UFC Interim Featherweight Championship
  • Islam Makhachev def. Alexander Volkanovski (48-47, 48-47, 49-46) to retain the UFC Lightweight Championship


Tukhugov missed weight by 1.5 lbs and was fined 20% of his purse.

Brener opened up with a leg kick and was the aggressor early in the round. Tukhugov started backing Brener up as the round progressed, and he tagged Brener with a pair of right hands as Brener circled the cage. Brener cracked Tukhugov with a knee at one point, but Tukhugov seemed to be growing in confidence, and he was landing heavy left hooks, which forced Brener to shoot for an unsuccessful takedown. A nasty cut was opened up on Tukhugov’s nose, and Brener was finding success attacking his lead leg as well, but I ultimately thought this was Tukhugov’s round. 10-9 Tukhugov.

Brener was fighting somewhat wildly early in the second round, which was giving Tukhugov opportunities to counter whenever Brener overcommitted to his attack. Tukhugov worked his jab and landed a strong right hand that caused Brener to lose his balance momentarily. Brener was having trouble finding his range, spending far too much time on the backfoot as Tukhugov pressed forward. Brener had his moments throughout the round, but much like the first round, I thought Tukhugov had the clear edge in terms of damage and scored the round in his favor. 20-18 Tukhugov.

Tukhugov pressured forward to begin the final round, quickly landing a hard right hook. Tukhugov changed levels as he attempted to take Brener down, but the attempt was defended, and Brener landed a spinning back fist on the break. Brener showcased some solid takedown defense as Tukhugov continued to pursue takedowns, but was unable to break away from Tukhugov, and spent a considerable portion of the round with his back to the fence. The fight went the distance, and I scored the bout 30-27 in favor of Tukhugov.

WINNER: Elves Brener by split decision (29-28, 30-27, 28-29)

I was absolutely shocked by this decision. I thought Brener gave a good account of himself despite being a massive underdog, and I liked how he mixed up his attack to the head, body, and legs of Tukhugov throughout the fight, but Tukhugov found far more success throughout the bout with his constant pressure, and I thought he did far more damage with his strikes. I don’t know how you can possibly justify giving the second round to Elves Brener, which I thought was an especially clear one for Tukhugov, who outlanded Brener by a significant margin, while clearly doing more damage. Despite my thoughts on the scorecards, I was impressed by Brener here in his UFC debut, and you could see the clear influence of his cornerman, Charles Oliveira, in his style.


Young worked his jab to begin the fight, as Bilder circled the cage. Bilder eventually changed levels and brought Young down to the ground, where he began to work from half guard. Young was able to escape to his feet in the final seconds of the round, but Bilder was fairly active from top position throughout his control time, and I thought that was the difference-maker in what was otherwise a somewhat uneventful round. 10-9 Bilder.

Bilder’s constant movement was keeping Young from landing many significant strikes, but he wasn’t doing a ton offensively either, occasionally closing the distance to land a leg kick or attempt a takedown. Still, that edge in activity was important considering the closeness of the round, and Bilder showcased some impressive counter-wrestling when Young practically had him down at one point. Late in the round, Young really began to pressure forward in an attempt to make up ground, and he very well may have done enough to steal this round back in the final minute or so. 19-19.

Young defended a takedown attempt early in the final round, and he landed a solid right hand on the break. Young was landing the stronger shots early in this third round, but Bilder began to pick it up as the round progressed, landing numerous hard left hands. A huge right hand from Bilder was likely the strongest shot landed of the fight to that point, but Young was still able to sprawl on Bilders follow-up takedown attempt, keeping the fight standing. The fight went the distance, and I scored the bout 29-28 for Bilder.

WINNER: Blake Bilder by unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 29-28)

Early in the fight, Bilder’s lack of activity was concerning, and it started to cost him when Young upped the output late in the second round, but Bilder really turned it on in the second half of round three, and this was ultimately a solid win to begin his run in the UFC. Young’s takedown defence was quite impressive (as was Bilder’s the few times in which it was tested), but Bilder’s movement proved difficult for Young to manage, and he wasn’t able to find his target quite as much as he needed, especially in the first half of the bout. Young fell to 2-4 in the UFC with this loss.


Lookboonmee began the fight with a heavy leg kick. The fighters traded hands before Lookboonmee landed a solid kick to the body. Lookboonmee connected with a hard right hand after dodging a shot from Reed, and she continued to beat up his left leg of Reed, which was visibly damaged. A knee from Lookboonmee busted open Reed’s nose, but after taking Reed to the ground, Reed was able to reverse the positioning and took top position with roughly ninety seconds to work. Reed landed some solid ground and pound shots before taking the back of Lookboonmee, but could not capitalize on the position before the end of the round.

Just seconds into round two, Lookboonmee threw Reed to the ground, took her back, and locked in a rear naked choke. Reed was forced to tap, and this was quite an impressive finish from Lookboonmee.

WINNER: Loma Lookboonmee by rear naked choke at 0:44 of Round 2

After Reed had Lookboonmee in a deep spot of trouble on the ground late in round one, the last thing I expected Lookboonmee to do just seconds into round two was to take Reed down and immediately submit her, but that’s exactly what happened here. It was a tremendously impressive finish, and this marked the first submission victory of Lookboonmee’s carer, so it was a rather unexpected one as well. Lookboonmee improved to 5-2 in the UFC with this win.


Jenkins landed a series of knees to the body in the opening seconds of the fight, as Shainis closed the distance and engaged Jenkins in the clinch. An accidental low blow from Shainis led to the fighters being separated, and the fight resumed on the feet. Jenkins was mixing up his combinations well, and a heavy kick sent Shainis to the ground momentarily. Jenkins continued to attack the lead leg of Shainis, and he was doing significant damage to that leg, slowing the pace of Shainis considerably. I thought this was an excellent round for Jenkins. 10-9 Jenkins.

Another low blow from Shainis resulted in a quick pause in the action, and referee Jason Herzog informed Shainis that if it happened again, he would be deducted a point. Jenkins tripped Shainis to the ground as the action resumed, where he began to work from half guard. Jenkins attempted to take the back of Shainis but lost the position, and Shainis escaped to his feet with just over two minutes to work. Jenkins attacked the body in combination, but he was taken down with a minute remaining in the round, where Shainis began to work from full mount. Shainis landed some strong ground and pound shots, but Jenkins exploded to his feet and secured a takedown of his own before time expired. 20-18 Jenkins.

Jenkins brought Shainis back to the ground early in round three, where he began to look for a rear naked choke. Shainis scrambled to his feet but ate a knee to the head in the process. Jenkins took Shainis right back down, where he controlled him against the cage for the vast majority of the round. The fight went the distance, and I scored the bout 30-27 for Jenkins.

WINNER: Jack Jenkins by unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 29-28)

I thought Jack Jenkins looked fantastic throughout this fight. His leg kicks were absolutely brutal, and they slowed Shainis down quickly after an aggressive start to the bout. Jenkins did an excellent job of mixing up his attack on the feet, and I was quite impressed by his wrestling as well, which he utilized more as the bout progressed. The crowd was absolutely insane for this one, cheering Jenkins on, and it created quite a memorable atmosphere for this early preliminary bout. This victory marked Jenkin’s eighth consecutive win.


Mullarkey secured a quick takedown, where he began to work from half guard. Prado moved Mullarkey into his guard, where he seemed to be searching for an armbar off of his back, but Mullarkey was wise to it, and landed some solid strikes from top position. Mullarkey gave Prado no room to work, and he kept top position until the end of the round, just smothering Prado from his guard. 10-9 Mullarkey.

There was not a ton of output from either fighter in the second round. Mullarkey seemed to be finding a bit more success on the feet, working his jab while throwing the occasional leg kick. Prado was looking to counter whenever Mullarkey committed to his attacks, but the output wasn’t quite there, and as a result, I thought Mullarkey was starting to run away with the fight based on activity alone. 20-18 Mullarkey.

The fighters traded hands to begin the final round. Mullarkey managed to defend a deep takedown attempt from Prado and scored one of his own later in the round, where he began to work from side control. Prado managed to reverse the position as he threatened a kimura, but was unable to secure the submission, and the fighters ended the bout on the feet.

WINNER: Jamie Mullarkey by unanimous decision (30-27 all)

This was a fairly strong performance from Mullarkey, who was able to outpoint Prado on the feet, while mixing in takedowns whenever the opportunities presented themselves. He was largely able to freeze Prado offensively, who had trouble getting going after Mullarkey’s early takedown in the first round. After the fight, Mullarkey called out Paddy Pimblett, who has had no shortage of fighters calling him out in recent months. Mullarkey is now 4-3 in the UFC following this win.


Rodrigues missed weight by 1lb and was fined 20% of his purse.

Rodrigues hurt Ross with a heavy kick to the body early, and he just started swarming Ross with strikes against the cage. Ross did his best to cover up, but he was quickly overwhelmed, and the fight was stopped when Ross finally fell to the ground.

WINNER: Kleydson Rodrigues by TKO at 0:59 of Round 1

Rodrigues just blitzed Ross here, and the strategy proved to be quite effective, as he picked up the quick finish after a number of body shots and hooks to the head found their target. It was an exciting performance from Rodrigues, who showcased an impressive level of precision throughout his wild, fighting-ending flurry. Rodrigues improved to 1-1 in the UFC with this win, but was not interviewed after his performance, as there was no translator on hand.


Culibao connected with a trio of leg kicks as Baghdasaryan pressured forward. Baghdasaryan landed a heavy kick to the body, and followed that up with another one when Culibao attempted to step in and close the distance. The fighters traded hooks, and both fighters landed leg kicks as well. A shot from Baghdasaryan opened up Culibao’s nose, who then had to deal with a steady stream of blood leaking into his mouth. A brutal spinning kick to the body from Baghdasaryan caught Culibao low, and he was given time to recover from the kick. Baghdasaryan attempted one last combination before time expired.

The broadcast team informed us that Culibao was having trouble breathing between rounds from the groin strike at the end of round one. The fighters traded kicks to the body, before Culibao pressed forward, catching Baghdasaryan off balance, and tripping him to the ground. Culibao immediately took the back of Baghdasaryan and locked in a rear naked choke, forcing Baghdasaryan to submit.

WINNER: Josh Culibao by rear naked choke at 2:02 of Round 2

The second Baghdasaryan slipped in the second round, Culibao capitalized, following him to the ground and locking in a rear naked choke before Baghdasaryan really had any time to respond to what was happening. It was an impressive finish after absorbing some heavy strikes in the previous round, including a brutal (unintentional) low blow that likely would have ended the night for some fighters. Culibao is now 3-1-1 in the UFC and has not lost since moving down to featherweight.


Bukauskas landed the first solid shot of the fight, a strong right hand. Pedro connected with a heavy jab as Bukauskas countered with a short hook. Pedro decided to take the fight to the ground, and he began to work from side control with roughly two and a half minutes remaining. Pedro eventually allowed Bukauskas to his feet, where Bukauskas landed a number of kicks to the leg before time expired, as well as a heavy left hand. 10-9 Bukauskas.

Pedro surged forward and partially landed an uppercut a minute into the second round. Bukauskas connected with a straight right hand, before a kick from Pedro landed low, resulting in a short pause in the action. Pedro attempted to bring Bukauskas to the ground later in the round, but the takedown defense of Bukauskas held up well. Neither fighter was terribly active offensively throughout this round, and this one really could have been scored either way. 19-19.

Pedro backed Bukauskas into the cage to begin the final round, where he continued to look for a takedown. Bukauskas defended the attempt, and the fight continued to play out on the feet. Much like the previous two rounds, this was an extremely close round, where neither fighter overwhelmed the other with their output, nor did either fighter have a moment of significant damage that would clearly separate the fighters. By the narrowest of margins, I gave the round to Bukauskas, but this was a coin flip. 29-28 Bukauskas.

WINNER: Modestas Bukauskas by unanimous decision (30-27, 29-28, 29-28)

The output wasn’t quite there for either fighter throughout the fight, and as a result, I thought this was a very close fight, that really could have been scored either way. With that being said, I thought Bukauskas did just enough with some short flurries to steal what were otherwise some very close rounds. This was a big win for Bukauskas, who took this fight on short notice after being cut from the roster in 2021 following a trio of consecutive losses.


The fighters traded leg kicks and right hands to begin the fight. Crute quickly changed levels and took Menifield down, where he attempted to climb up the back of Menifield along the cage. Menifield powered his way back to his feet but was immediately taken back down. Crute unsuccessfully attempted a guillotine, and Menifield was able to pop back to his feet, where he was partially caught by a head kick. Menifield connected with a heavy hook, and Crute seemed to slip to the ground, where Menifield followed him. Menifield threw down some brutal ground and pound from top position, but Crute was able to escape with seconds remaining in the round. Menifield swarmed him with strikes, and nearly knocked Crute out with a right hand, but somehow Crute recovered almost immediately and partially secured a takedown as the horn sounded. 10-9 Menifield.

Crute was still hurt badly from the end of the previous round, and the first big shot from Menifield in the second round sent Crute back to the ground. Menifield followed him to the ground, but Crute was able to use the fence to get back to his feet. Crute was eating some huge shots back on the feet, but a huge knee up the middle seemed to give him a second wind, and he started surging forward, going on the attack. Menifield wrapped Crute up in the clinch, but Crute was able to complete the takedown, and he took top position with just over a minute remaining in the round. Crute was unable to secure the submission before time expired, but this was a good end to the round for Crute. 20-18 Menifield.

Menifield defended a well timed takedown attempt from Crute to begin the third round, but on Crute’s next takedown attempt Menifield grabbed the cage, and referee Marc Goddard deducted a point from Menifield as a result. Crute successfully took Menifield down as the action resumed, and he began to throw down ground and pound strikes from top mount. Crute didn’t get the finish, but this was a 10-8 round as a result of the point deduction. 28-28.

Result: Majority Draw (29-27, 28-28, 29-28)

The first round of this fight was absolutely wild. Crute was dominating Menifield early, just throwing him around with ease, but towards the end of the round, Menifield just exploded with a flurry of strikes, nearly knocking Crute out against the cage. It looked like Crute was done when Menifield sent him back to the ground just seconds into round two, but Crute weathered the storm and powered back to take control of the fight in the final minute of the round. Crute dominated round three, and with the point deduction taken into account, I agreed with this fight ultimately resulting in a draw. After the fight, Menifield suggested running the fight back in the future, which isn’t something I’d be opposed to.

At this point in the broadcast, the UFC announced Jens Pulver as the next inductee into the UFC’s 2023 Hall of Fame class. The broadcast showed a stream of Pulver’s live reaction to the surprise induction, and it was a touching moment as Pulver got quite emotional during the announcement. Pulver was one of the UFC’s most influential fighters in the early era of its lightweight division, becoming the promotion’s inaugural lightweight champion in 2001. Pulver defended the title twice before leaving the company due to a contract dispute but returned when the division was reinstated properly in 2006. Pulver coached the fifth season of The Ultimate Fighter against rival B.J. Penn, in what was one of the most entertaining seasons of the long-running show, before ultimately losing to Penn at the finale, after which Pulver would head to the WEC to compete in their talent-stacked featherweight division. Pulver retired from the sport of Mixed Martial Arts in 2014, with a professional record of 27-19-1, highlighted by wins over B.J. Penn, Dennis Hallman, Caol Uno, Joe Stevenson, and Cub Swanson.


Tafa connected with a solid kick to the body early, and Porter responded with a kick to the body. Porter pressed forward and ran into a huge left hand from Tafa that knocked him unconscious, ending the fight early.

WINNER: Justin Tafa by KO at 1:06 of Round 1

Porter got a bit reckless early in the fight and paid the price. Tafa’s fight-ending left hook was absolutely brutal, and there was no need for any follow-up shots after landing that one. It was a highlight reel knockout for Tafa on a big stage, something he’s done before when he quickly knocked out Juan Adams on the main card portion of UFC 247. Tafa is clearly a heavy hitter with five of his prior professional wins coming by way of knockout, and he added to that total with this big knockout victory. Tafa is now 3-3 in the UFC.


Just over a minute into the fight, Della Maddalena landed a huge right hand that dropped Brown hard. Brown did his best to recover, but Della Maddalena secured top position, and he threw down some vicious ground and pound strikes, which eventually forced Brown to give up his back. Della Maddalena sunk in the rear naked choke, and Brown was forced to submit.

WINNER: Jack Della Maddalena by rear naked choke at 2:13 of Round 1

Jack Della Maddalena has looked phenomenal throughout his short UFC run, and he kept that streak of outstanding performances up with this quick submission victory. Randy Brown is a talented, dangerous fighter, but Della Maddalena just ran through him here, dropping him quickly in his first real blitz, before finishing the fight on the ground. He is now 4-0 in the UFC, with four first-round finishes, and I think he’s cemented himself as one of the top prospects at welterweight, to the extent in which I wouldn’t be surprised to see him fight a ranked opponent in his next bout.


The fighters touched gloves to begin this interim title fight. Rodriguez connected with a number of hard kicks to the body early in the bout, drawing some big reactions from Emmett early. Emmett connected with a heavy right hand, but Rodriguez was able to avoid the majority of Emmett’s early attacks. A wild exchange ended with a big hook from Emmett finding its target, which led to Rodriguez heading to the ground somewhat hurt, where Emmett began to work from top position, throwing down hard hammerfists. It was a strong end to the round for Emmett, but a very close round overall.

A big combination from Emmett landed with power in the opening minute of round two, but Rodriguez responded with a body shot that backed Emmett off. Emmett chased after a takedown, while Rodriguez responded with numerous shots to the side of Emmett’s head, and the fighters separated. A huge elbow from Rodriguez hurt Emmett, and Rodriguez followed that up with a barrage of knees and head kicks. Emmett seemed to have recovered, and a flying knee from Rodriguez partially landed, but he fell to the ground in the process, and Emmett began to work from top position. Rodriguez was throwing strong elbows off of his back, however, Emmett was in an advantageous position, and he postured up as he attempted to throw down ground and pound. Rodriguez threw up a triangle choke, and he caught Emmett in the submission, forcing Emmett to tap out.

WINNER: Yair Rodriguez by triangle choke at 4:19 of Round 2 to win the UFC Interim Featherweight Championship

Emmett had his moments throughout the fight, securing top position twice and rocking Rodriguez toward the end of round one, but largely, I thought this was a tremendous performance from Yair Rodriguez. Rodriguez did a fantastic job of picking apart the body of Emmett at range, and those early kicks to the body quickly took their toll on Emmett, so Rodriguez did considerable damage whenever he went back to the body later in the bout. In the end, Rodriguez secured the victory with a triangle choke, which actually marked his first submission victory since 2014, showcasing the improvements he’s made in that category. In all likelihood, Rodriguez will face Alexander Volkanovski to unify their respective titles in his next bout. Volkanovski will be favored in that fight, but Rodriguez has emerged as a genuine threat to that title reign, and I wouldn’t count him out after a performance like this.


The champions touched gloves to begin the main event. Volkanovski landed a heavy left hand early in the fight, which drew a monstrous reaction from the crowd. A shot from Makhachev sat Volkanovski down momentarily, and Makhachev wrapped Volkanovski up against the cage when the fighters broke apart. Makhachev took Volkanovski down and immediately took his back as he started to look for a rear naked choke. Volkanovski was able to defend the submission attempt, but this was a strong end to the round for Makhachev. 10-9 Makhachev.

Volkanovski landed a number of body shots early in the second round, and after thinking he had Makhachev hurt, he over-committed to his attack, allowing Makhachev to secure another takedown. Volkanovski escaped to his feet, and he landed a solid knee to the head on the break, which Makhachev responded to with a knee to the body. Volkanovski seemed to be getting the better of their exchanges on the feet, but Makhachev had the advantage in terms of power, and whenever he caught Volkanovski with a clean shot, he was hurting his opponent. This was a close round, but I gave the slight edge to Makhachev. 20-18 Makhachev.

A right hand from Volkanovski found its target in the opening minute of round three. Volkanovski was landing some solid combinations, but Makhachev was catching him with some solid counterstrikes on the break. A leg kick from Volkanovski got a big reaction from Makhachev, and he quickly wrapped Volkanovski in the clinch, where Makhachev took Volkanovski down against the cage. Volkanovski escaped to his feet and landed a number of short shots before the fighters broke apart. Makhachev connected with a left hand as Volkanovski stepped in, before an overhand left caught Makhachev off guard, sending him to the floor momentarily. The crowd was absolutely insane by the end of this round, and I thought Volkanovski edged this one out. 29-28 Makhachev.

The fighters traded lead hands to begin the championship rounds. Makhachev changed levels and took Volkanovski down as he pressed forward. Volkanovski desperately crawled to the fence, but he gave up his back in the process, with roughly three minutes for Makhachev to work. Makhachev was not terribly active in the position, but he maintained it for the entirety of the round. Volkanovski may have actually been more active offensively despite having his back taken, and for that reason, I’d actually give him the edge, but I’d honestly be surprised if most saw it the same way. 38-38.

The fighters hugged to begin the final round. Volkanovski was fighting with the aggression of a fighter in need of a finish, but Makhachev was countering well whenever Volkanovski moved in, attacking the head and body with knees. Volkanovski managed to defend a deep takedown from Makhachev in impressive fashion, but Makhachev kept with it. Somehow, Volkanovski continued to fend off Makhachev’s takedown attempts, and he pressed forward as he attempted to finish the fight. Makhachev defended a pair of takedown attempts from Volkanovski, but a huge right hand from Volkanovski sent Makhachev to the ground in the fight’s final minute. Volkanovski followed him down as he attempted to finish the fight, but could not secure the finish before the round reached its conclusion. 48-47 Volkanovski.

WINNER: Islam Makhachev (48-47, 48-47, 49-46) to retain the UFC Lightweight Championship

This fight was a fantastic fight, with one of the best crowd atmospheres that I can recall. The crowd was entirely behind Volkanovski, and they went absolutely insane for every moment of success that he had throughout this one. I scored the fight for Volkanovski personally, but I didn’t take issue with any of the scorecards, and I don’t think many people will take issue with Makhachev retaining his title here. Volkanovski displayed tremendous defensive grappling throughout the bout, and Makhachev’s striking was far better than Volkanovski expected, as he admitted after the fight. I thought Makhachev did a great job of utilizing his size advantage to counter strongly whenever Volkanovski moved in, and the rounds I scored for Makhachev in this fight were largely due to what I perceived as the more damaging shots landing for him whenever he found its target. I didn’t see Makhachev’s grappling as particularly effective under the scoring criteria, which I why I didn’t score the fourth round for him as all three judges did, but his ability to change levels at the perfect time was extremely impressive regardless. While Volkanovski’s next move is rather obvious, with Yair Rodriguez waiting for him down at featherweight, it is tougher to predict Makhachev’s next opponent. There are a number of important bouts set to take place involving the top-ranked lightweight fighters, so a particularly strong performance from any of them could justify a title shot in their next bout. Regardless of his next opponent, this will go down as one of Makhachev’s career-defining victories, and he will likely be the UFC’s pound-for-pound king when the rankings are next updated.

About Eric Marcotte 189 Articles
A graduate of Laurentian University, Eric reports on Mixed Martial Arts at POST Wrestling.