Alexander Volkanovski has retained his featheweight title, stopping interim champion Yair Rodriguez is the third round via TKO in the main event of UFC 290 in Las Vegas, Nevada.
Volkanovski set the pace in the first round, landing three takedowns and keeping Rodriguez pinned against the cage, scoring strikes on him through the round. Volkanovski found similar wrestling success in the second, again securing three successful takedowns and relentless strikes on the ground to Rodriguez. Rodriguez found a home for his striking in round three, connecting with multiple combos and seeming more comfortable on the feet, throwing some of his signature unorthodox striking. Volkanovski countered a body kick from Rodriguez with a right hook, rocking Rodriguez and pushing him against the cage, where he continued to pressure the Mexican fighter, taking him down with a big double leg and finishing the fight with ground and pound.
In the cage after the fight, the champion spoke about his opponents unorthodox striking, and how he prepared for it.
‘You gotta expect the unexpected, that’s Yair.’ Volkanovski said.
When asked what is next for him, Volkanovski mentioned again trying for the lightweight title, as well as mentioning world number 5 featherweight Ilia Topuria, who was present in the crowd.
‘I’m the king of this division, no one’s ever stopping me.’
‘Ilia has been running his mouth, if he wants to keep going I can show him what’s up, I’ll squash him too.’
In the lead up to this fight, Volkanosvksi had expressed his interest in again moving up to lightweight to take on champion Islam Makhachev for the 155-pound title.
As for the Windang local’s immediate future, Volkanovski revealed he will be going in for surgery for an arm injury he sustained in camp, but still intends on training once returning to Australia.
‘I need to get a little bit of surgery on my arm, going through camp was a bit of a struggle, but I was always going to turn up here and do my thing.’
‘I might be in this position right now, but I guarantee I’ll be in the gym next week busting my ass again.’ Volanovski said.
Once out of the cage, Volkanovski and Topuria exchanged some words in the crowd and stared each other down before the champ headed backstage.
Volkanovski’s victory mark his fifth successful title defence.