Ilia Topuria is the real deal, and he proved it on Saturday night with a stellar performance to defeat former interim featherweight title challenger Josh Emmett at UFC Jacksonville.

Topuria has long been considered a hot prospect in the UFC’s featherweight class, but his true credentials as an elite operator hadn’t been seriously tested by matchups against the division’s very top contenders.

That all changed at the VyStar Veterans Memorial Arena, where Topuria headlined UFC Jacksonville against Emmett, a supremely tough contender with one-shot knockout power and a world-class team behind him. It was Topuria’s acid test, and he passed in spectacular fashion as he dominated Emmett to a lopsided unanimous decision victory.

The fight may not have seen Topuria claim the first-round finish he was targeting, but instead we got five full rounds to witness just how dangerous he is. His boxing is among the best in the division – though Max Holloway may have something to say about that – and Topuria mixed up his shots beautifully as he continually landed big punches to the head and body of Emmett.

Topuria also showed effective boxing defense, as he bobbed, weaved and and rolled to reduce the power from Emmett’s heavy-handed shots.

The final scorecards, 50-44, 50-42 and 49-46, suggest a one-sided beatdown, and Topuria certainly handed out the lion’s share of the punishment. But Emmett was competitive in the early rounds, and briefly appeared to stun Topuria with one big shot in the early stages.

But despite showing early signs of being able to impact the fight, Emmett found himself on the back foot, and on the receiving end, as Topuria went through the gears in a brilliant display that should put him front and center in any future championship conversations.

“I was expecting to knock him out in the first round, but he guy was really, really tough,” he said after his victory.

“I showed once again that no one can match my level of skill inside the cage. I prove it all the time. I step inside the cage and I proved it once again tonight.

“I am the next guy, without any doubt. I want what’s deserved for me, which is to be the number one (contender) to take that UFC belt. And I want Alex to defend that belt and to show him and the whole world that his world’s going to end, and mine’s gonna start.”

UFC Jacksonville: Official results


  • Ilia Topuria def. Josh Emmett via unanimous decision (50-44, 50-42, 49-46)
  • Maycee Barber def. Amanda Ribas via TKO (punches) – Round 2, 3:42
  • Austen Lane vs. Justin Tafa declared no contest (Tafa suffered accidental eye poke) – Round 1, 0:29
  • David Onama def. Gabriel Santos via knockout (punches) – Round 2, 4:13
  • Brendan Allen def. Bruno Silva via submission (rear-naked choke) – Round 1, 4:39


  • Neil Magny def. Phil Rowe via split decision (29-28, 28-29, 29-28)
  • Randy Brown def. Wellington Turman via unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28)
  • Mateusz Rebecki def. Loik Radzhabov via TKO (punches) – Round 2, 2:36
  • Tabatha Ricci def. Gillian Robertson via unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 30-27)
  • Joshua Van def. Zhalgas Zhumagulov via split decision (29-28, 28-29, 29-28)
  • Chepe Mariscal def. Trevor Peek via unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27)
  • Jack Jenkins def. Jamall Emmers via split decision (27-30, 29-28, 29-28)
  • Sedriques Dumas def. Cody Brundage via unanimous decision (30-27, 29-28, 30-27)