- Islam Makhachev caught Alexander Volkanovski with a picture perfect head kick in the first round
- Classy Australian gave full credit to his foe having taken the fight on only 11 days notice
- Makhachev showed he has the rounded game to dominate the lightweight division for years to come
Islam Makhachev delivered a spectacular head kick to extinguish Alexander Volkanovski’s dream of becoming a two-weight champion at UFC 294.
The formidable lightweight king is known for his wrestling ability but showed he has deadly weapons in every area, landing a killer blow in the first round before pouring on the punishment and prompting referee Marc Goddard to intervene.
Volkanovski had marched out to ‘Men at Work’, full of confidence for the rematch of a fight he lost narrowly by decision back in February.
He looked full of confidence despite stepping in for Charles Oliveira at just 10 days notice. The Australian had promised to be more aggressive this time around but it was the Russian on top early.
Makhachev forced a clinch and landed some incisive knees before his challenger managed to adjust position and break away.
It was then, that having set him up with kicks to the midriff and lower, that the Dagestani switched it upstairs to the head. It worked immaculately and the left shin to the right side of Volkanovski’s head rocked it backwards, sending him wobbling to the canvas.
Islam Makhachev landed this head kick and it was the telling blow, leading to the first round finish at UFC 294.
The Russian put a finger to his lips as he walked cooly away with his opponent receiving treatment
Makhachev had the belt wrapped around his waist by Dana White again and looks almost impossible to beat
Volkanovski looked devastated by the result and it was the first time in his career that he has been finished
Makhachev made use of the clinch early on before he managed to connect with the telling blow in the fight
A few follow-up blows were all that was needed to finish him off. He followed a number of fighters on the card in using his time in the post-fight interview to call for peace.
‘I am not celebrating the win today because of the crazy things happening around the world,’ he said.
‘Honestly, I have a great team and always do this in the locker room, the training pushed me very hard. This is my second home, all the fans, thank you.
‘You have to turn off the lights to beat this guy, he is a real champion.’
Volkanovski was typically classy in defeat, telling Daniel Cormier: ‘Great set up and a good kick, it hurts me to lose, he’s a great champion, what do you do. Islam is one man who you need to prepare properly against.
‘I want to say to the UFC to keep me busy, it does my head in when I’m not fighting. I’ll come back down at featherweight. Credit to Islam, great kick.
‘I want Ilia Topuria in January, I need to be training and in camp. I’m fine to everyone back home. Sorry I couldn’t put on a better show.’
Makhachev is likely to face either Oliveira or Justin Gaethje next, although he will be a significant favourite against both men. Currently, Jon Jones sits atop the pound-for-pound list but it is difficult to argue with the Russian on this kind of form.
Makhachev landed some hammer blows with Volkanovski already compromised on the ground
Marc Goddard waved it off and now the featherweight will return to his natural home in the 145-pound division
More to follow…