Islam Makhachev entered one of the most intense atmospheres in UFC history on Saturday as champion. When he left, the belt came with him.
In front of a rowdy RAC Arena full of passionate fans who cheered on his opponent Alexander Volkanovski (25-2 MMA, 12-1 UFC), the promotion’s lightweight champion Makhachev (24-1 MMA, 13-1 UFC) kept his title via unanimous decision (48-47, 48-47, 49-46). The bout served as the main event of UFC 284 in Perth, Australia.
Saturday’s bout featured the pound-for-pound fighters ranked No. 1 and No. 2 in the world by the UFC – a rare occurrence. Volkanovski, the UFC featherweight champion, moved up to 155 pounds and was the first title defense for UFC lightweight champion Makhachev.
Few crowds matched the volume of the environment when Volkanovski first, then Makhachev second, entered the RAC Arena. The two fighters met at opposing receptions as fans sang Men At Work’s “Down Under” during Volkanovski’s march and booed during Makhachev’s march.
The thundering energy continued throughout the intros and into the first round, and re-energized when Volkanovski landed the first big punch of the fight. Makhachev stumbled back but did not come down. Moments later, both men landed hard punches.
Makhachev’s strike briefly knocked Volkanovski down. Volkanovski appeared but was shot down. Makhachev slid back but couldn’t squeeze into a choke before the round was over.
In the second round, Volkanovski was the first to deliver a significant blow. A punch dropped Makhachev, who sprang up and took down Volkanovski again. Volkanovski stood up and they separated. Just as Volkanovski found his rhythm with successful strikes, Makhachev knocked him out again. Volkanovski continued the retreat and recovered before a wall and a stall and the end-of-inning horn.
The pace slowed in round 3 as both men were more calculated and patient with their attacks. Midway through the round, Makhachev shot down Volkanovski. But like all the other cases with one exception, Volkanovski quickly came back to the feet. As the round progressed, the crowd grew heavier. Volkanovski’s technical strike found more success in the final minutes of the round and was recognized by the Perth faithful on the horn.
In round 4, Makhachev returned to his roots when he made a well-timed takedown. Makhachev moved to Volkanovski’s back and locked in a body triangle. Makhachev controlled Volkanovski but was unable to muster many attacks in three minutes until the end of the round. In the final 30 seconds, however, an excited Volkanovski threw blind punches above his head, which connected to Makhachev’s face.
With the fight potentially anyone at the start of Round 5, the crowd gave a standing ovation before the final frame. Makhachev skipped Volkanovski with a good punch. The blow, which Volkanovski acknowledged, resulted in a cut.
Makhachev fired for a takedown, but once again Volkanovski escaped. With every positive action from Volkanovski, the Perth crowd went wild. Another takedown attempt by Makhachev was stuffed and Volkanovski clinched.
As the clock ticked around four minutes into the final round, Volkanovski landed a punch that visibly shook Makhachev and sent him to the ground. The crowd exploded as Volkanovski rained down to the last bell.
While pundits and fans alike weren’t sure which way the judges were going to lean, Makhachev’s name was announced – and the boos fell.
Makhachev extends his winning streak to 12, a streak that also includes victories over Charles Oliveira, Dan Hooker and Arman Tsarukyan.
The loss marks Volkanovski’s first in the UFC — and his first overall since May 2013. The loss ends a 22-fight winning streak.
The UFC 284 minute results include:
Islam Makhachev won. Alexander Volkanovski via unanimous decision (48-47, 48-47, 49-46)
Yair Rodriguez defeated. Josh Emmett via submission (triangle choke) – Round 2, 4:19
Jack Della Maddalena defeated. Randy Brown via submission (rear naked choke) – Round 1, 2:13
Justin Tafa defeats. Parker Porter via KO (punch) – Round 1, 1:06
Jimmy Crute v Alonzo Menifield declared the majority draw (29-27, 28-28, 28-28)
Modestas Bukauskas defeated. Tyson Pedro via unanimous decision (30-27, 29-28, 29-28)
Josh Culibao beats. Melsik Baghdasaryan via submission (rear naked choke) – Round 2, 2:02
Kleydson Rodrigues defeated. Shannon Ross via TKO (strikes) – Round 1, 0:59
Jamie Mullarkey beats. Francisco Prado by unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27)
Jack Jenkins beats. Don Shainis by unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 29-28)
Loma Lookboonmee beats. Elise Reed via submission (rear naked choke) – Round 2, 0:44
Blake Bilder vs. Shane Young via unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 29-28)
The Brenner Elves have won. Zubaira Tukhugov by split decision (29-28, 28-29, 30-27)
For more on the card, visit MMA Junkie’s Event Center for UFC 284.
The story originally appeared on MMA Junkie
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