Islam Makhachev defends his title at UFC 284!

The showdown between UFC Lightweight Champion Islam Makhachev and UFC Featherweight Champion Alexander Volkanovski at UFC 284 was seen as a battle for pound-for-pound supremacy. In a fight that went the full five rounds, Makhachev proved that the narrative surrounding him for the last few years that he is the best in the sport was much more than a myth. In an impressive performance, the 31-year-old solidified his claim as the reigning King of Mixed Martial Arts. There’s a lot to unpack here; without further ado, let’s get into it!

Makhachev vs. Volkanovski

The first 90 seconds of the bout between Islam Makhachev and Alexander Volkanovski was comprised primarily of feints and hints. Each man respected the other’s ability and both were hesitant to mix it up. Finally, at the 3:15 mark of round one, the first significant blow of the night was landed. Volkanovski landed a left jab that stunned Makhachev and drew a reaction from the crowd. The support the Australian received from his hometown fans in Perth was deafening at times. At the 2 minute mark of the round, Makhachev responded with a big overhand right that dropped Volkanovski to one knee. He was able to steal the round with a successful takedown of “The Great” at the 1:15 mark. The stage had been set, this was going to be a seesaw battle and neither man was going to budge an inch.

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Round two was another exciting back and forth affair. Again, Volkanovski landed the first impactful blows of the round, followed by an adequate response from Makhachev. Round three was possibly the most difficult round to score of the entire fight. The only significant advantage gained by either man was a calf kick by Volkanovski that caused Makhachev to slip and hit the mat. Although he popped right back up, the moment drew applause from the pro-Volkanovski crowd. In round four, Makhachev executed a beautiful level-change and takedown at the 3:30 mark. He then established a body triangle and dominated the remainder of the round through ground control time.

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Makhachev landed a well-timed left handed jab to begin round five. Volkanovksi did his best to stay active, and nearly scored a takedown at the 1:30 mark of the round. “Volk” was then able to land a huge overhand right with just under a minute remaining in the round. He gained the dominant position and tried everything he could to earn a stoppage, knowing he was behind on the scorecards. Makhachev was able to survive the onslaught and was awarded a unanimous decision victory by the judges. In just his first title defense, Islam Makhachev has defeated his fiercest possible opponent and catapulted himself into the number one pound-for-pound ranking in The UFC. At just 31-years-old, to say that he has a bright future would be a gross understatement.

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Rodríguez vs. Emmett

With Alexander Volkanovski challenging Islam Makhachev for the UFC Lightweight Championship, the organization thought it was best to crown an Interim Featherweight Championship in his absence. Thus, Yair Rodríguez versus Josh Emmett was dubbed the Interim Title Fight for the division.

Rodríguez made good use of his feet in the opening moments of round one. He started with a high kick to Emmett’s forehead, followed by a swift kick to the midsection and a calf kick. Another right-footed body kick to Emmett’s ribcage at the 3:45 mark landed with an audible thud and left him visibly hurt. Emmett eventually mounted an attack of his own, landing a big overhand right that sent Rodríguez crashing to the mat at the 1:30 marker of the round. Although both men did their fair share of damage, the advantage would have to go to Rodríguez at the end of round one.

Both fighters came out of their corners more aggressive at the start of round two. Each relied on striking and both men landed well-timed jabs that earned the other’s respect. Finally, Rodríguez landed a flying knee that caused Emmett to topple over and sent both men crashing to the mat. Emmett established the dominant position but Rodríguez was able to secure a tight triangle choke against his opponent, using his legs from the on-back position. The grip was too tight for Emmett to escape and he was forced to tap out. It was a dramatic second round submission victory for Rodríguez! He is now The UFC’s Interim Featherweight Champion.

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Della Maddalena vs. Brown

Welterweight prospect Jack Della Maddalena is gaining a reputation as one of the rising stars of the division. Randy Brown is the tallest welterweight on the organization’s roster at 6’3″ tall. His height and speed often give him an advantage but Maddalena was not impressed. Early in round one, he hit Brown with an overhand right strike that sent him crashing to the mat. He then began to pummel him with hammer-fists. After Brown’s defense was severely compromised, Maddalena established a back-mount followed by a rear naked chokehold. Seeing that Brown was defenseless with no means of maneuvering out of the position, the referee waved off the fight. Jack Della Maddalena is a prospect worth keeping an eye on in the welterweight division!

Tafa vs. Porter

Heavyweight challenger Justin Tafa made quick work of his opponent, Parker Porter, on Saturday night. After Porter threw a wild looping punch that badly missed, Tafa simply took one step backwards and hit him in the jaw with a perfectly timed left jab. As Porter was falling to the mat, Tafa followed up the initial blow with a right uppercut. Porter was out cold as soon as he hit the canvas. The referee immediately stopped the fight. This was an impressive first round knockout for Justin Tafa!

Crute vs. Menifield

Light Heavyweights Jimmy Crute and Alonzo Menifield engaged in a close match that saw each man utilize his strengths. In round one, Crute scored an early takedown after Menifield created an opening due to a missed punch. After Menifield fought to his feet, Crute scored a second takedown of the round. After a struggle on the mat, Menfield again found a way to get back on his feet. He then landed a huge left-handed strike that sent Crute to the mat. Another left hook before the round was over nearly knocked Crute out, who was lucky to survive the period.

In round two, Menifield displayed elite quickness and timing while landing his left jab with regularity. However, Crute responded and nearly forced Menifield to tap out through a chokehold near the end of the round. Early in round three, Crute held the clear advantage and nearly forced Menifield to hit the mat. Menfield grabbed the fence to avoid being taken down, which is a violation of MMA rules. The referee paused the action and instructed the judges to deduct a point. At the end of the round, two judges had the final score as a draw, which means the ruling is a majority draw.

If Menifield hadn’t grabbed the fence and lost a point, he most likely would have won the fight. However, the rules are in place for a reason and he must live with the result. During the post-fight interview, Crute and Menifield complimented one another and each stated that they’d like to face each other in the octagon again. Hopefully this rematch happens sooner rather than later; it was a competitive fight and either man could win the rematch.

Major Takeaways

Islam Makhachev showed a lot of courage by fighting Alexander Volkanovski in Australia for his first title defense. Not only did he face the reigning pound-for-pound King, he did so on his home turf. Most fighters would delay such a huge challenge and not risk losing their belt immediately after gaining it. However, Makhachev took on the biggest possible test and passed with flying colors. He is only 31-years-old; he could rule the Lightweight Division for years to come. For the last couple of years, there were whispers that he was the best Lightweight in the world. Those thoughts are no longer questionable. It is simply a matter of fact.

What’s Next

The UFC returns next week with another edition of Fight Night from The Apex Center in Las Vegas. The main event of the evening features Women’s Flyweight Star Jéssica Andrade versus up-and-comer Erin Blanchfield. You won’t want to miss it! As always, we’ll have all the latest updates about the outcomes of the fights, as well as in depth analysis available right here at World in Sport.

Until next time, take care of yourselves, and each other.

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