Islam Makhachev turned back the challenge of Alexander Volkanovski with a vicious head kick knockout to retain his UFC lightweight championship at UFC 294.
After 25 minutes of action back in February, many wondered if Volkanovski could upend Makhachev in a rematch. But it only took three minutes to realize that Makhachev is the only king of the lightweights.
Volkanovski — who is still the UFC featherweight champion — stepped up on short notice in an attempt to win a rematch over Makhachev and become a two-division champion, after falling short earlier this year. But perhaps no amount of preparation could have prepared him for the head kick that Makhachev threw that sank the Australian fighter.
After retaining his featherweight title in July against Yair Rodriguez, Volkanovski took some time off for surgery but jumped at the opportunity to face Makhachev when Charles Oliveira was forced to pull out of the fight with an eye injury. Volkanovski stepped up and set the stage for a legacy-defining fight.
But it would be Makhachev who put his own legacy in full motion by putting any thought that Volkanovski had his number to rest.
It started off well for Volkanovski as he stuffed an early takedown but Makhachev prodded with leg and body kicks to set the stage for the finishing sequence.
After escaping a Thai clinch, Makhachev created space and launched a kick high that crashed into Volkanovski’s head and sent him to the canvas. Makhachev chased the featherweight champion to the canvas with a wicked series of punches until the referee pulled him off at the 3:06 mark.
With the rivalry put to rest, Makhachev will take on all comers at lightweight while Volkanovski will head back to featherweight and defend his title once he heals.
In the co-main event, Khamzat Chimaev earned a middleweight title fight by defeating Kamaru Usman by majority decision. Usman also stepped up on short notice after Paulo Costa was forced out with an elbow injury.
But the former welterweight champion realized he had his hands full early as Chimaev earned a 10-8 round in the opening frame with a takedown and total domination. Usman climbed back into the fight as Chimaev seemingly suffered a right hand injury that caused him to slow down his attack. A closely contested final round saw Chimaev secure another takedown late to win the fight. However, with an injured hand, Chimaev’s middleweight coronation may have to wait.
Here are the results from Abu Dhabi.
UFC 294 full card results
- Islam Makhachev def. Alexander Volkanovski via 1st round knockout (head kick & punches) (3:06) to retain the UFC lightweight title
- Khamzat Chimaev def. Kamaru Usman via majority decision (29-27, 29-27 & 28-28)
- Magomed Ankalaev vs. Johnny Walker ends in No Contest (3:13)
- Ikram Aliskerov def. Warlley Alves via 1st round TKO (flying knee, punches) (2:07)
- Said Nurmagomedov def. Muin Gafurov via 1st round submission (guillotine choke) (1:13)
- Muhammad Mokaev def. Tim Elliott via 3rd round submission (arm triangle) (3:03)
- Trevor Peek def. Mohammad Yahya via unanimous decision (29-28, 30-27 & 30-27)
- Javid Basharat vs. Victor Henry ends in No Contest
- Sedriques Dumas def. Abu Azaitar via unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28 & 29-28)
- Mike Breeden def. Anshul Jubli via 3rd round KO (punch) (3:00)
- Muhammad Naimov def. Nathaniel Wood via unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28 & 29-28)
- Victoria Dudakova def. Jinh Yu Frey via unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28 & 29-28)
- Sharabutdin Magomedov def. Bruno Silva via unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27 & 30-27)