Makhachev Presents Elite Striking And Outscores Volkanovski To Retain Lightweight Title

Saturday night at UFC 284, inside the RAC Arena in Perth, Western Australia, Islam Makhachev successfully defended his lightweight title for the first time against featherweight titleholder Alexander Volkanovski.

The featherweight titleholder moved up in weight to challenge himself versus the current lightweight champion, and a challenge is exactly what he found.

As the fight began, both competitors had their moments during the feeling out process. Volkanovski was playing a strategic game of remaining cautious while closing the distance, then switching stances and unloading solid punches while inside the pocket. But at a certain point, Makhachev began to read this and unloaded a well-placed left hook that dropped the Australian to one knee.

Volkanovski backed off and recovered, while defending intelligently, but now it was obvious that he certainly had more respect for Makhachev’s striking than he did when the first round started.

From there, Makhachev secured the takedown and took control of Volkanovski’s back, but was unable to do anything with the position before the round expired.

Through the course of the next three rounds, the back and forth striking between the two champions was very competitive. Volkanovski was utilizing a mixture of low kicks and punches very well. Conversely, Makhachev surprised everyone by keeping up and delivering solid straight punches and several knees inside and outside the clinch, which seemed to be readily available on multiple occasions due to his height advantage.

Additionally, Makhachev was able to execute very well-timed takedowns and establish a dominant position once on the ground. But, Volkanovski wrestled up to his feet almost every time, then landed excellently placed strikes in the process of disengaging the clinch. It was clear that he worked very hard in training camp on his defensive wrestling.

In the fifth and final round, Makhachev set the pace by landing a pinpoint accurate straight punch, and Volkanovski followed up by mixing between low kicks and punches to the body. Makhachev then went back to the knees that he was landing all fight, before shooting for another takedown. The takedown was successful, but once again Volkanovski was back to his feet in no time, with having received no damage on the ground.

As they neared the end of the fight, Volkanovski delivered a powerful right cross that dropped Makhachev to the ground, from there the Australian took the top position and delivered ground strikes until time expired.

Though it was a good look, finishing the fight in a dominant position, it was not enough to sway the judges. Makhachev would go on to win the championship match by way of decision.

This was an extremely close fight, and both competitors showed supreme cardio to keep up the pace of this battle. Additionally, the grappling and striking skill they showed over the five round course was on a level that is only seen at the most elite levels.

Official Decision: Islam Makhachev def. Alexander Volkanovski via Decision (Unanimous) – 48-47-, 48-47, 49-46

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