Featherweight champion Alexander Volkanovski gave a good account of himself tonight at UFC 284, but it was Islam Makhachev who had the edge overall to retain his lightweight title on the scorecards via unanimous decision.
Volkanovski paws out with his lead hand in the opening minute as he keeps his distance. Eventually a body kick lands for Makhachev.
Volkanovski darts into a couple of punches and then back on the outside. Makhachev thinks about a body kick but aborts it before it connects.
leg kick for Volkanovski as Makhachev threw a punch. Hard left hand down the pipe from Volkanovski staggers Makhachev backwards. Volkanovski fired up by that moment of success, but Makhachev seems ok.
Volkanovski tries to crash into range again, but Makhachev steps aside. Volkanovski comes in and is greeted by big hooks from Makhachev that puts him down on one knee. He pops straight back up again, but now Makhachev has the rear clinch against the cage.
Volkanovski defending the takedown now, but Makhachev does manage to land it. Now Makhachev takes his back and puts in hooks as he sits with his back to the cage.
Makhachev fishing for a rear-naked choke or face crank, but volkanovski stays calm and fights it off, even grinning broadly and signalling to the crowd in the final seconds of the round, which brings a roar of approval from the always vocal Aussie support.
Lots of feints from Volkanovski on the outside to start the second round. Makhachev steps in with a hook that misses.
Body kick for Makhachev. Volkanovski steps forward with left and right hooks that miss. Volkanovski goes to the body. Volkanovski lands a nice punch, but Makhachev responds with a takedown.
Volkanovski back to his feet, but Makhachev has the rear clinch. He drags Volkanovski down but it’s far from perfect and VOlkanovski scrambles back up and lands a knee upstairs in the process.
Now it’s Volkanovski initiating the clinch and trying for takedown of his own, but Makhachev stays upright and they opt to go back to striking range.
Volkanovski swings and misses on a hook attempt. Volkanovski attacks to the body but Makhachev lands a big left hand counter that staggers him backwards.
Volkanovski recovers quickly but Makhachev is stalking him now. Volkanovski getting in close and Makhachev is trying for the muay thai clinch. It’s Volkanovski who ends up pressing him into the cage in the final seconds of the round.
Head kick attempt from Makhachev is blocked. Right hand gets through for Volkanovski. Hook to the body from the featherweight champ.
Inside leg kick for Makhachev. Now a solid body kick. Outside leg kick from Volkanovski now. Volkanovski steps in with a strike, but Makhachev lands a counter-punch.
Inside low kick from Volkanovski landed nicely. He steps into a punch and misses. Makhachev with the thai clinch and lands a couple of knees to the body.
Now Makhachev is working for a takedown and gets Volkanovski to his knees. He’s leaning heavily on his opponent, but VOlkanovski not only stands but is able to turn into him against the cage.
Volkanovski tries to trip him and when that doesn’t work he lands a nice flurry of punches and then backs away.
Nice left hand counter for Makhachev. He misses a body kick. Inside leg kick for Volkanovski. Right hook counter for Makhachev.
Body punch from Volkanovski and either a trip or a slip knocks Makhachev to the mat for a moment. Back upright straight away Volkanovski lands again.
Outside leg kick for Volkanovski. Jab and a straight lands for Makhachev. Both try to kick at the same time and there’s a bit of a clash of legs.
Volkanovski wades in with a couple of overhands that lands. Makhachev with a right hand counter now. Makhachev swoops into a good takedown. Volkanovski quickly walking over to the cage, but Makhachev changes position and manages to take his back before he can attempt to stand.
Makhachev gets the body lock in and is trying to work towards the rear-naked choke. Volkanovski doing a good job of fighting off his arms though and is trying to turn into him, but without success for now.
90 seconds to go. Volkanovski tries to turn and is talking to his opponent and trying to punch behind him to land some offense.
More verbal antics from Volkanovski as he gets fired up and starts to find some leverage on these punches thrown behind him, which gets the crowd cheering loudly.
Leg kick for Volkanovski but he eats a big counter punch from Makhachev. Missed hooks from Volkanovski but does lands a leg kick and targets the body with a punch.
Volkanovski steps forward and now he eats a knee to the body. High kick attempt from Volkanovski. He gets in and rips to the body.
At close range Makhachev lands a couple of big knees upstairs and that opens a small cut up.
Now Makhachev lands a takedown, but Volkanovski does really well to energetically scramble back to his feet and then escape the clinch.
Volkanovski wades in with hooks, but Makhachev ducks under and lands a takedown. Volkanovski close to getting up quickly though. He adjusts and breaks Makhachev’s base as he tries to gain an advantageous position. It doesn’t quite pay off but he’s giving Makhachev a lot to think about on the mat.
Back on the feet Volkanovski is trying to manufacture a takedown attempt. Makhachev stops the first and then uses a whizzer to deny another.
Suddenly Volkanovski lands a big right hand that drops Makhachev! Volkanovski able to get on top and unleash ground-and-pound. Makhachev clears the cobwebs though and is able to defend himself in the remaining time left.
What a great fight that was between these two champions, being highly competitive from start to finish. Volkanovski did very well to prevent Makhachev from working his wrestling game as much as he would have liked and also floored him in the final round to enjoy some top control time himself.
However, Makhachev proved to be a sharp counter-striker throughout the fight, dazing Volkanovski on more than one occasion, while he also did still have some significant spells of control on the mat to help him on his way to a unanimous decision victory (48-47 x2, 49-46).