Islam Makhachev edged Alexander Volkanovski to retain his UFC lightweight title after a gripping five-round battle at UFC 284 in Perth, Australia.
Featherweight champion Volkanovski stepped up a weight class to take on lightweight king Makhachev in the main event at the RAC Arena, and both men were tested in ways we hadn’t seen before, as Makhachev was dragged into deep waters by Volkanovski, who himself had to adjust to Makhachev’s effective striking.
It made for a thrilling champion-versus-champion encounter that had the fans on the edge of their seats until the scorecards were finally announced as Makhachev took the unanimous decision victory with scores of 48-47, 48-47, 49-46 to retain his title.
Makhachev started the better and briefly stunned Volkanovski, who dropped to one knee after being clipped during a wild exchange. The defending champion finished the round chasing a rear-naked choke submission, but Volkanovski looked comfortable as he defended the choke attempts relatively easily and even had time to grin for the camera before the horn sounded to end the round.
The second round saw Volkanovski get a foothold in the fight as he went back and forth with Makhachev in a highly-competitive frame. Makhachev timed a takedown perfectly but, unlike most of the Russian’s prior opponents, Volkanovski found the wherewithal to fight his way back to his feet. The Australian then enjoyed some more success on his feet before being given a moment’s pause by a big Makhachev counter.
Round three saw Volkanovski push the pace on Makhachev, and even appeared to hold the upper hand in the grappling and wrestling exchanges as he enjoyed a strong round. But any momentum he picked up in the third was wiped out in the fourth when Makhachev timed a takedown to perfection early in the round, took Volkanovski’s back and controlled him for the remainder of the round.
With the fans raising the roof for Volkanovski and social media scorecards from seasoned reporters unable to find a consensus, the fight was still up in the air as the pair went into the final round, and Volkanovski had the best round of the entire fight, stuffing Makhachev’s takedown attempts before dropping him with a big punch, then hammering him with ground strikes in the closing moments of the fight.
Eventually, the scores were read, with Makhachev taking the unanimous decision, which was greeted by boos from the Australian crowd.
Ultimately, Makhachev cemented his spot at the top of the 155-pound division, while Volkanovski, despite his defeat, may actually have seen his stock rise after pushing the Russian closer than any of his recent opponents.
Rodriguez captures interim featherweight title
The co-main event saw Mexico’s Yair Rodriguez claim the vacant interim featherweight title after a brilliant display took him to victory against Josh Emmett.
Emmett looked to stalk Rodriguez and connect with his huge power punches, but it was Rodriguez who had the advantage on the feet, as he showcased his spectacular striking arsenal to bust up the American and leave him swinging at air.
Despite Rodriguez’s spectacular performance on the feet, the finish eventually came on the mat when, after Emmett caught a flying knee and took him to the mat, Rodriguez worked off his back and eventually locked up a triangle choke to force the tap at the 4:19 mark of the second round.
After the fight, Rodriguez paid tribute to the Perth crowd, but declined the opportunity to offer any comment on a future fight with the reigning featherweight champion Volkanovski, as he didn’t want to interrupt or disturb the Australian’s preparations for the main event.
Local boy Della Maddalena scores huge first-round win
Rising welterweight talent Jack Della Maddalena showed another glimpse of his huge potential with a stunning first-round finish of Randy Brown in their 170-pound bout.
Prior to the fight, Brown spoke of there being levels to the sport in the UFC, but rather than put the Australian in his place, Brown was unable to halt the charge of the in-form newcomer, who blasted Brown with strikes before finishing him on the ground.
A big right hand connected hard behind the ear of “Rude Boy,” who lost his equilibrium and face-planted to the canvas. Della Maddalena followed his man to the mat and connected with some nasty hammerfists before switching to his grappling to finish the fight with a rear-naked choke submission.
It gave Perth’s Della Maddalena his 14th consecutive victory, and likely put him on collision course with the UFC’s welterweight top 15.
Tafa flattens Porter in one
Queensland’s Justin Tafa was keen to make amends for his last appearance in his homeland when he faced American Parker Porter. He did just that, and he did it in some style.
Tafa needed just 66 seconds to defeat Porter, and he needed just one punch to do it. A perfectly-timed counter left hook connected flush on Porter’s chin and sent him crashing to the canvas.
It was a huge highlight-reel finish that sent the Australian fans wild as Tafa erased the memory of his first-round knockout loss to Yorgan De Castro in Melbourne in 2019 with a big first-round KO victory of his own.
Point deduction crucial as Crute comes back to earn draw with Menifield
Australian light heavyweight Jimmy Crute and America’s Alonzo Menifield were expected to serve up fireworks in the opening main card bout of the night, but their bout may even have surpassed expectations as the momentum swung back and forth in a thrilling, grueling matchup.
Crute started well, but Menifield made an impact as soon as he let his hands go, and the American appeared to have Crute in big trouble late in the opening round.
Crute was dangerous on the mat, and appeared to have Menifield in trouble on a few occasions through the bout, but the Aussie was unable to force the tap as the bout went through two action-packed rounds and into a final frame.
The final round proved crucial, as Crute, despite being battered from Menifield in Round 2, came out looking to take the action to the mat. But, as the Australian looked to work a takedown against the fence, Menifield grabbed the cage to prevent the action from hitting the mat. Referee Marc Goddard saw the foul immediately and deducted a point from Menifield for the deliberate grab.
The bout continued all the way to the final buzzer, with the point deduction proving pivotal as the judges tendered a majority draw verdict with scores of 29-27, 28-28, 28-28.
UFC 284: Official results
- Islam Makhachev def. Alexander Volkanovski via unanimous decision (48-47, 48-47, 49-46) – for undisputed lightweight title
- Yair Rodriguez def. Josh Emmett via submission (triangle choke) – Round 2, 4:19 – for vacant interim featherweight title
- Jack Della Maddalena def. Randy Brown via submission (rear-naked choke) – Round 1, 2:13
- Justin Tafa def. Parker Porter via knockout (punch) – Round 1, 1:06
- Jimmy Crute vs. Alonzo Menifield ruled a majority draw (29-27, 28-28, 28-28)
- Modestas Bukauskas def. Tyson Pedro via unanimous decision (30-27, 29-28, 29-28)
- Joshua Culibao def. Melsik Baghdasaryan via submission (rear-naked choke) – Round 2, 2:02
- Kleydson Rodrigues def. Shannon Ross via TKO (punches) – Round 1, 0:59
- Jamie Mullarkey def. Francisco Prado via unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27)
- Jack Jenkins def. Don Shainis via unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 29-28)
- Loma Lookboonmee def. Elise Reed via submission (rear-naked choke) – Round 2, 0:44
- Blake Bilder def. Shane Young via unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 29-28)
- Elves Brenner def. Zubaira Tukhugov via split decision (29-28, 28-29, 30-27)