ISLAM MAKHACHEV BARELY SCRAPES DECISION AGAINST ALEXANDER VOLKANOVSKI, YAIR RODRIGUEZ CHOKES OUT JOSH EMMETT
The battle for the PFP spot lived up to its name – with Islam Makhachev and Alexander Volkanovski delivering an all-timer at UFC 284.
Nobody gave Alexander Volkanovski much of a chance against Islam Makhachev – but he proved why he was the #1 PFP fighter on the UFC roster at UFC 284. The main event delivered a battle for the ages – with Volk finding a way to make Islam Makhachev look human for the first time in a long time.
The fight was more competitive than anyone anticipated – with both men finding their moments in the standup. However, the most surprising aspect was how well Volkanovski handled Makhachev’s signature grappling – he was taken down multiple times, but defended incredibly well – finding his way back to his feet many times throughout the fight.
The first 3 rounds were razor close – but in the fourth, Makhachev landed an early takedown and held Volkanovski in a body triangle against the cage. He ended up with over 4 minutes of control time in the round – meaning Volk likely needed a finish to salvage the fight going into the fifth.
Against all odds, Volk almost got it done, knocking Islam down with just over a minute left in the fight.
Volk finished the round by raining down ground-and-pound – but it wasn’t enough to get the nod from the judges. Islam Makhachev remained lightweight champion, winning via unanimous decision (49-46, 48-47 x 2).
The fight was so close that many believed Volk should have won – including Joe Rogan and Nate Diaz.
In the co-main event, Yair Rodriguez became the second Mexican-born UFC champion – defeating Josh Emmett via triangle choke in round 2. He’s lined up for a showdown against Volkanovski – though some believe that the fight with Islam was so good, it should be run back immediately.
Rodriguez put on a convincing performance – picking apart Emmett from a distance with his wide range of kicks and punches. Emmett landed a few right hands that briefly wobbled Yair – but it wasn’t enough to stop the onslaught.
A featherweight showdown between Alexander Volkanovski and Yair Rodriguez is a bonafide banger, and “El Pantera” proved that he’s the next title challenger at 145. Whether or not he’ll get a chance to unify the belt later this year remains to be seen.