UFC Featherweight champion Alexander Volkanovski successfully defended his title against Yair Rodriguez this weekend, scoring a third-round TKO victory at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas in UFC 290. Volkanovski further cemented his argument as the top pound-for-pound fighter in the world, sitting only behind Jon Jones in the official rankings. He has now held the UFC Featherweight title since December of 2019, defending it a total of six times.
The champ was able to take down the dangerous Rodriguez with relative ease, taking down his opponent on several instances and out-landing the challenger 149-57 in total strikes and 66-40 in significant strikes.
The win came after Volkanovski suffered only the second loss of his MMA career at the hands of UFC Lightweight Champion Islam Makhachev in February earlier this year. The Australian was attempting to become a two division champion but fell to Makhachev via unanimous decision. Volkanovski did express that another run at the 155-pound Lightweight division might be in his future in the aftermath of UFC 290.
Though noticeably shorter, Volkanovski was successful in keeping constant pressure on his opponent, taking him to the mat three times in just the first two rounds. The champ showed off his grappling and grounding technique as he was able to mount the dynamic Mexican striker and unload a barrage of punches from the top position early on.
Unlike his fight against Josh Emmet for the interim title, Rodriguez had no luck trying to submit Volkanovski from the bottom, as the Aussie continually landed blows and kept his shoulders pinned to the canvas.
The standup game wasn’t that different as Volkanovski was able to land a significant number of punches on his opponent while keeping his distance. Rodriguez had his biggest patch of success in the third round when he started to use his kicks and work from the outside but unfortunately he took a counter right hook that pushed Rodriguez back to the fence. Volkanovski then capitalized on the situation, unloading follow-up blows and dumping him to the canvas where he finished the fight swiftly as referee Herb Dean stopped the fight at 4:19 of the third.
What’s Next For Volkanovski?
With this win over Rodriguez, Volkanovski has seemingly cleaned out the featherweight class, proving he is the king at 145 pounds. Before UFC 290, he was able to score wins over future Hall-of-Famers Max Holloway and Jose Aldo, as well as top contenders Chang Sung Jung and Brian Ortega.
His next possible opponent would likely be Ilia Topuria who scored a win over Josh Emmet on June 24 of this year. Topuria is currently ranked No. 5 based on UFC’s rankings, which have Rodriguez as No. 1, Holloway as No. 2, Ortega at No. 3 and Arnold Allen at No. 4.
As champion, Volkanovski has beaten Holloway three times, Ortega once and Allen who is at No. 4 is coming off a loss to Holloway, making it unlikely he’d get a shot at the title.
It should be noted that Volkanovski mentioned he may need surgery after Saturday night’s win, which could mean he will be out of action for a significant spell. A timeline for his next fight should become more apparent in the coming months as we get more information on his injury.
Other Results at UFC 290
UFC 290 had four other main card fights and , including a co-main event at flyweight between Brandon Moreno and Alexandre Pantoja. Listed below are the results all other bouts:
- Alexandre Pantoja def. Brandon Moreno via Split Decision
- Dricus Du Plessis def. Robert Whittaker via TKO (R2, 2:23)
- Dan Hooker def. Jalin Turner via Split Decision (29-28 x2, 28-29)
- Bo Nickal def. Val Woodburn via first-round TKO (0:38)
- Robbie Lawler def. Niko Price via KO (punches) at (R1, 0:38)
- Tatsuro Taira def. Edgar Chairez via Unanimous Decision (29-27, 29-27, 29-27)
- Denise Gomes def. Yazmin Jauregui via TKO, (R1, 0:20)
- Alonzo Menifield def. Jimmy Crute via Submission (Guillotine Choke) (R2, 1:55)
- Vitor Petrino def. Marcin Prachnio via Submission (Head & Arm Choke) (R3, 3:42)
- Cameron Saaiman def. Terrence Mitchell via TKO, (R1, 3:10)
- Jesus Aguilar def. Shannon Ross via KO (R1, 0:17)
- Esteban Ribovics def. Kamuela Kirk via Unanimous Decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28)