By Greg Rivera
For the first time in the History of the Ultimate Fighting Championship, the number one and two pound-for-pound fighters in the sport faced each other in Perth, Australia, at UFC 284. Lightweight Champion Islam Makhachev successfully defended his title against Featherweight King Alexander Volkanovski. The super-fight was Islam’s first defense of the title he won back in October 2022, while Alexander attempted to become a simultaneous two-division champion. A feat only achieved four other times by sports legends Connor Mcgregor, Daniel Cormier, Amanda Nunes, and Henry Cejudo.
The classic back-and-forth battle ended in a controversial decision. Many fans felt the Australian deserved the win. However, the judges’ scorecards read a unanimous (48-47, 48-47, 49-46) decision in favor of Makhachev, who hurt Volkanovski several times on the feet with his left hand, including in the first and second rounds. Volkanovski, meanwhile, nullified most of the Dagestani’s trademark dominant wrestling. While being showered by a crowd of boos during the post-fight interview, an emotional Islam said: “You like, or you don’t like, I am [the] best fighter in the world right now.” Alexander, for his part, said: “Maybe I didn’t respect his striking enough, either. He landed some shots. Fair play to both of us.” What is next for both fighters is still being determined, as many call for an immediate rematch of the razor-close contest.
Next for the promotion is UFC 285. The return of the G.O.A.T. Jon Jones (26 – 1 – 0), ending a three-year absence from the sport and moving up to Heavyweight against top contender Cyril Gane (11-1) for the vacant heavyweight title. In the Co-Main event, flyweight queen Valentina Shevchenko (23-3) defends her belt against one of the division’s best boxers Alexa Grasso (13-3). Grasso is attempting to become only the third Mexican-born UFC Champion, while the Kyrgyzstani Shevchenko is making her seventh consecutive title defense.