It was the rematch that had everyone on the edge of their seats. Lightweight champion Islam Makhachev squared off once again against Alexander Volkanovski, having successfully defended his title against him at UFC 284. Originally set to face Charles Oliveira, a last-minute withdrawal by "Do Bronx" due to a cut, saw "The Great" Volkanovski step in, a testament to his indomitable fighting spirit.
The fight commenced with Makhachev landing a "low kick". Rapidly escalating, a "high kick", a clinch, and several blows later, it was Makhachev's astounding "high kick" that floored Volkanovski, ending the match with a technical knockout.
Although Volkanovski showcased commendable prowess in the clinch, the sudden front kick proved decisive. The evening marked Makhachev's 12th consecutive win and his second successful title defense. As for Volkanovski, the future remains uncertain.
While this marks his third career loss, he remains undeterred, expressing eagerness to face Ilia Topuria in UFC 297.
Other Key Highlights of the Night
Khamzat Chimaev's majority decision win over Kamaru Usman was another focal point.
Though Chimaev emerged victorious, his performance was met with less-than-stellar reviews, prompting speculation about the outcome had Usman been better prepared. Adding to the drama, the eagerly awaited match-up between Johnny Walker and Magomed Ankalaev ended abruptly in a "no contest" decision, due to an illegal knee strike by Ankalaev.
Meanwhile, both Ikram Aliskerov and Said Nurmagomedov recorded first-round triumphs, with Aliskerov achieving a knockout and Nurmagomedov seizing a win by guillotine.
Preliminaries: Potential Overshadowed by Controversies
The preliminaries had their fair share of drama.
The much-anticipated bout between Muhammad Mokaev and Tim Elliott, while engaging, couldn't quite clinch the "best fight of the night" accolade. Despite this, Mokaev showcased resilience by achieving submission in the third round, even as referee scores suggested he was trailing.
Several matches in the preliminaries were marred by controversies, particularly multiple low blows that unintentionally prolonged the evening. Amidst the chaos, "Share Bullet" made an impressive debut, sealing the "event" opener with a unanimous decision victory.