In Perth, Australia, on Sunday, Islam Makhachev successfully defended his Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) lightweight world title by outlasting Alexander “The Great” Volkanovski on the feet and in the ground to win by unanimous decision.
Despite a very partisan audience, Russia’s Makhachev stopped the Australian from becoming just the fifth fighter in UFC history to hold two world titles concurrently.
Makhachev exclaimed, “So hard an opponent,” following the nail-biting main event match at UFC284. “Right now, I am the best fighter in the world.”
The smaller Australian was easily defeated by the 31-year-old Makhachev, who extended his 12-fight UFC winning streak and improved his career record to 24-1. The judges’ scores were 48-47, 48-47, and 49-46.
Makhachev surprised everyone with his striking, as he carefully selected his shots and landed overhand lefts and probing rights.
In addition, the Russian executed four trademark takedowns, leaving the lively Volkanovski in need of an explanation. Late in the fifth, the Australian hit a massive right that shocked the crowd, but Makhachev held on.
The Dagestan-born Makhachev, who arrived in Perth with a record of 11 submissions, has been trained by Khabib Nurmagomedov, probably the greatest fighter in UFC history, throughout his career.
The Australian’s fitness and ground defense allowed him to win the battle after Makhachev initially planned to rapidly move it to the mat. It all came down to numbers with too many strikes landed by Makhachev and a greater number of take-downs executed.
Makhachev surpassed Volkanovski in the UFC’s pound-for-pound rankings as a result of the victory.
“I showed why I am number one,” said Makhachev. “You guys have to improve more. I thought he was going to be easy on the ground but this guy, he proved me wrong.” For the fight, Volkanovski had upgraded from featherweight in an effort to make history.
Previous dual-champion UFC champions include Conor McGregor (featherweight, lightweight), Daniel Cormier (light-heavy, heavy), Amanda Nunes (bantam, feather), and Henry Cejudo (fly, bantam).
Makhachev, on the other hand, was thinking about how he could cement his own status as one of the all-time greats in the sport. He said, “I just need to fight some more difficult fighters.