UFC 284 delivers on promise of epic champion vs. champion
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About 12 occasions a 12 months, the UFC goals to safe your hard-earned money with an enormous combat. They’re not at all times Large with a capital ‘B’, nevertheless it’s offered that method all the identical.
Islam Makhachev vs. Alexander Volkanovski Sunday morning in Perth, Australia was a Large combat, not merely an enormous combat. And whether or not you purchased into the concept the MMA chief dropped the ball within the promotion of the conflict of champions — featherweight king Volkanovski difficult the light-weight newly-crowned titleholder — no quantity of hype or lack thereof adjustments that truth.
And each second of Makhachev’s victory by way of unanimous determination, 48-47, 48-47, 49-46, felt simply as B-I-G because the pound-for-pound No. 1 vs. No. 2 contest figured, on paper, to be to cap UFC 284. From the second the group Down Beneath broke out into music together with Volkanovski’s walkout to — what else — “Down Beneath” by Males at Work, it was on and barely let up.
None would mistake Makhachev-Volkanovski for an all-action assault just like the deified 2005 brawl between Forrest Griffin and Stephan Bonnar. No, this conflict of titans felt epic in the identical method as Hollywood thriller, with stress and anticipation combined equally with pronounced moments of violent motion all through the 5 5-minute rounds.
Would Volkanovski’s superior hanging foil the favored Makhachev and his dogged grappling? May Makhachev reveal some depth to his stand-up arsenal that had but to be seen all through his rise to the highest of the 155-pound division final October? These questions formed the early drama.
The solutions wound up as a wholesome mixture of affirmation of suspicion and stunning outcomes. The everyday excessive output on the toes was by no means there for Volkanovski, unsurprisingly choosing his spots extra rigorously towards a person who would love nothing greater than to seize maintain of the 145-pound champion and experience him to the ground.
Not even two minutes glided by earlier than the stance-switching Volkanovski caught the defending champion sq. on the bearded chin with a left, throwing his fellow Aussies right into a frenzy. However Makhachev took it effectively, didn’t again down, and despatched Volkanovski briefly to a knee solely a minute later. There was extra to the Dagestan, Russia native’s hanging that had beforehand met the attention.
In the meantime, Makhachev’s pursuit of his challenger’s again at all times appeared to repay. He secured takedowns in every of the primary 4 rounds, claiming rounds one, two and 4 from all of the judges thanks partly to the standout grappling that’s been his bread and butter in a lot the identical method as mentor, buddy, “brother” and retired former light-weight champ Khabib Nurmagomedov.
However Volkanovski confirmed grit alongside the way in which, hardly ever permitting himself to be positioned in the kind of fight-finishing hazard Makhachev utilized to Charles Oliveira within the fall. No official submission makes an attempt like those Volkanovski survived towards Brian Ortega a 12 months and a half in the past. The Aussie was defiant within the face of a 3-minute-long again take within the fourth body, launching punches at Makhachev which, whereas not the sort to finish a combat, fired up his countrymen as soon as once more.
Even down on the playing cards (however unaware due to a scarcity of open scoring), Volkanovski felt very a lot within the combat going into the fifth. And after some back-and-forth on the toes and a pair of fended-off Makhachev takedown, the challenger made one final push for “champ-champ” standing. With a raucous RAC Area behind him, Alexander “The Nice” sniped his foe with a proper and adopted him to the ground. Whereas the window rapidly closed on Volkanovski’s probability to finish it, he earned about as a lot respect as any fighter to fall brief on a quest to reign over two weight courses directly.
Just a few top-billed battles a 12 months actually qualify for that uppercase Large, and so they needn’t all be on the Conor McGregor degree. I’m speaking about Israel Adesanya vs. Alex Pereira final November on the Backyard, Francis Ngannou taking up Ciryl Gane final January in Anaheim, and Kamaru Usman vs. Colby Covington 2 additionally in Manhattan again in November 2021. No disrespect to the myriad championship clashes atop the opposite pay-per-view occasions every year, however there’s ranges to these items.
Not all of these fights delivered on their promise, however the UFC does have a knack for hitting extra usually than it misses when the Large combat arrives.
Makhachev vs. Volkanovski was a Hit, with a capital ‘H.’