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UFC 284: Makhachev denies valiant Volkanovski of double championship feat

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Image: Getty Images
The stage was set in a showdown for the ages between the pound-for-pound number one and number two and it certainly delivered. Islam Makhachev was pushed to the brink as he denied an inspired Alexander Volkanovski of simultaneous world championships over the course of an exhillerating 25-minute war in Perth, Australia.

Despite a relentless pace set from the featherweight king, 155-pound titlist Makhachev did enough on the scorecards to retain his title, hurting Volkanovski throughout the fight on the feet and controlling him for large parts on the ground - although the Aussie surprised many with his grappling resistance.

Volkanovski's agenda remains full despite the unsuccessful lightweight bid, as his next contender at 145-pounds emerged in Yair Rodriguez. The Mexican delivered a spellbinding performance to submit Josh Emmett in two rounds and capture the interim featherweight gold in the UFC 284 co-main event.

Fence grab leaves judges sitting on the fence
Jimmy Crute vs Alonzo Menifield ruled a majority draw (29-27, 28-28, 28-28)

Frantic and a foul was the story of a fast-paced light heavyweight main card opener as Jimmy Crute and Alonzo Menifield ended in a majority draw after three rounds.

Image: Chris Unger / Zuffa LLC / Getty Images

Neither man wasted time getting into the pocket right off the bat with Crute loading up and Menifield landing sharp, hard counter shots. The left hooks in particular were finding a mark prompting Crute to shoot for a takedown, landing and securing a chunk of control time with an unsuccessful guillotine attempt. Menifield was able to land some big shots after scrambling to his feet and then took the back of Crute landing big shots with the Aussie turtled. Menfield ended the round emphatically by dropping Crute.

There would be more of the same in the second stanza as Crute once again hit the deck at the hands of Menifield's punches. Crute covered up and got back to his feet to survive an onslaught of elbows but was in dire straits and appeared only moments away from being finished. He survived another hard right hand before dropping for a takedown and coming very close to a submission, dramatically swinging the fight back in his favour.

Menifield's capitulation was typified by a point deduction early in the final round for a fence grab. Referee Mark Goddard was on the money for the penalty and Crute took the opportunity to secure more control time with a takedown and pursued several submission attempts including his own patented keylock submission. Crute was able to hold on and grind it out until the final bell, with one judge ruling it in his favour and the other two scoring it a draw. Menifield, after making a strong start, will rue the lost momentum and point deduction for squandering what could have been a career best performance.

If you reach, he has to teach
Justin Tafa def. Parker Porter via knockout (punch), round 1 (1:06)

It was a spectacular homecoming for Justin Tafa who needed just over a minute to dispatch fellow 265-pounder Parker Porter.

Porter lunged forward several times with right hands with Tafa circling out of range and biding his time. He picked his moment perfectly to drill a straight left hand down the pipe as Porter came forward, sending him crashing down to the canvas - and sneaking in a right uppercut for good measure to his toppling foe. No follow up was needed as a dazed Porter looked up at the lights.


 "If you reach I have to teach," Tafa told Jon Anik in the post-fight interview.  A left hand from the greats timed to perfection, a gameplan that only needed over a minute to execute - it has to feel good for the New Zealand-born Aussie.

"The Real Deal" does it again
Jack Della Maddalena def. Randy Brown via submission (rear-naked choke), round 1 (2:13)

Randy Brown was looking so good, until he wasn't. He would be the unfortunate recipient of the latest Jack Della Maddalena knockout, as the Perth-based brawler lifted the roof off the arena with an electric first round stoppage. 

Image: Paul Kane / Getty Images

Brown stayed loose and sharp in the early exchanges, moving well and keeping Maddalena at bay with a steady diet of jabs and teep kicks to the body. Maddalena was already beginning to close the distance and when he had his opponent backed against the fence, he unloaded a barrage of shots with a right hook landing and sending the Jamaican-American tumbling to the canvas. Despite withstanding the subsequent onslaught, it would be done and dusted when Maddalena securded the rear-naked choke and with the tap came an electric response from the partisan crowd in attendance.

Things just continue to get better for the violent Aussie who is picking up momentum and well on his way to top 15 at 170 pounds. 

Rodriguez fulfils championship prophecy
Yair Rodriguez def. Josh Emmett via submission (triangle choke), round 2 (4:19)

What has felt like a long time coming finally materialised as Mexican virtuoso Yair Rodriguez finally realised UFC gold by way of a spellbinding performance, submitting Josh Emmett inside two rounds.

Image: @ufc / Zuffa LLC

"El Pantera" was looking fluid early, circling away from the power as Emmett looked to take him out with his lethal overhand right. He made his opponent grimace with some hard body kicks and followed them up with hooks that quickly reddened the face of the American. Emmett rocked Rodriguez when he closed the distance and found the mark with his right hand, bundling the Mexican down and controlling him on top position to see out the first frame.

Despite the power threat, Rodriguez was oozing confidence and started the second round like a man on a mission, digging to the body with further kicks and some knees. He ate a right hand when planting his feet in the pocket but appeared unphased and came back to buckle Emmett with an elbow in the clinch. Moments later he landed a flying knee which Emmett ate and took Rodriguez down. The American was unable to achieve much in that position thanks to an active guard from Rodriguez, throwing plenty from the bottom and going for an armbar. He soon transitioned to a triangle choke which forced Emmett to tap, and with that, the prophecy had been fulfilled.

The table was set for Rodriguez to realise his potential and he grabbed it with both hands. He made Emmett look one dimensional and once he knew that it was simply the right hand he had to worry about, he oozed confidence and put on a clinic. 


Makhachev ends Volkanovski's champ-champ dreams in epic war
Islam Makhachev def. Alexander Volkanovski via unanimous decision (49-46, 48-47, 48-47)

A historic first-ever showdown between the pound-for-pound number 1 and number 2 in the world lived up the occasion and then some as Islam Makhachev and Alexander Volkanovski went for war for five rounds, with the lightweight champion retaining his title on the scorecards.

Image: CBS Sports

There was a rapturous reception for Alexander "The Great" who strolled in on a mission, adopting a movement-heavy approach from the first bell. Throwing plenty of fights trying to close the distance, he buzzed the champion with a massive straight left hand. The striking of Makhachev was no joke, however, as he let the 145-pound champion taste his power with a hard right hook when both exchanged fireworks in the pocket. Volkanovski was dropped to one knee and then ate a head kick as the Russian blitzed forward and clinched against the cage, landing a takeodwn and taking the back of the challenger to pursue a rear-naked choke as the round expired.

Volkanovski was sitting down on his punches to try and inflict substantial damage two rounds in, but the lightweight champion's striking as he waded into range was crisp. A well-landed body kick from the Russian followed up by some blitz striking from his opponent made for some gasps on the feet before Makhachev took the chance to dive down for a takedown. Volkanovski's strength was not deficient at the new division though as he willed his way back to his feet and even managed to take control of his own in the clinch. Towards the end of the round the aggression emerged from the champion, as he began to apply more pressure and impose his size on his foe.

Confidence was brimming from Makhachev who went high with a head kick in the third and dug into the body later. Volkanovski came back with a hard right hook before a strong knee in the clinch from the champion. After being buckled by a low kick Makahchev timed a takedown perfectly to take control of Volkanovski's legs, but once again the 145-pound king refused to accept the position and worked his way upwards. He even came close to landing a takedown of his own at the end of the third stanza. Alexander The Great came on strong as the fifteen minute mark approached.

Image: Bloody Elbow

As we ventured into the championship rounds there were more solid counters from Makhachev as Volkanovski tried to explode into range. Mixing up his offence well, as the Aussie lunged forward he landed a big double leg and went on to back mount Volkanovski as he retreated towards the cage. The remainder of the fourth saw Makhachev pursuing a choke with the body triangle locked in, but an enraged Volkanovski landed punches from that position and egged on the champion.

The challenger needed a massive final round to keep his dreams of joining the champ-champ club alive and did so accordingly, pushing the pace with his relentless cardio down the stretch. He was cut open by a knee as the champion still struck effectively in the late stages of the fight, but the pace was showing on the Russian. Volkanovski controlled some of the clinch exchanges before clipping Makhachev with a right hook as he changed levels. Islam was forced to hang on and surrender top position as Volkanovski finished the fight in full guard throwing shots to the body and head.


We saw two champions embody the spirit of what it means to hold the belts in five rounds of tenacity and determination. Makhachev was taken into deep waters and showed he has the mettle when tested to the limit. Likewise, Volkanovski showed that despite the size difference, he can truly hang in there and make it competitive with the best in the world. Volkanovski had his moments and perhaps had it not been for the timely takedown and submission attempts from Makhachev one or two more rounds - and hence the title - could have gone his way. 


Both fighters have plenty to tackle with a stacked lightweight division and interim featherweight title contender in waiting but there will be appetite to see this fight again in the next year or so. 

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SportingMatrix • We Live For Sport: UFC 284: Makhachev denies valiant Volkanovski of double championship feat
UFC 284: Makhachev denies valiant Volkanovski of double championship feat
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SportingMatrix • We Live For Sport
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