IsMakhachev landed a perfect head kick to put the featherweight champion out cold and hold on to his lightweight title
In February, Islam Makhachev barely held on to his UFC lightweight championship when he was pushed to the brink and hurt late by featherweight champion Alexander Volkanovski. The pair rematched in the main event of Saturday’s UFC 294, and Makhachev made a big statement with a first-round knockout win to retain his title.
Volkanovski was stepping in on late notice after Makhachev’s original opponent, Charles Oliveira, was forced out of the bout due to injury. Taking the fight on less than 10 days’ notice was a big risk by Volkanovski to get a fight he’d wanted since Makhachev had his hand raised in their first meeting.
The two men battled in the clinch for much of the fight, with Makhachev seeming much more effective than the first fight. Makhachev was able to muscle Volkanovski around and land some good strikes, including knees to Volkanovski’s head that drew blood early.
After they separated from the clinch, Makhachev landed a big head kick and a flurry of punches on the ground to force the stoppage at the 3:06 mark of the opening round.
“I showed him first of all low kicks and body kicks and changed to high kick,” Makhachev said of the finish. “This is our whole plan we trained. This guy is a real champion. He’s going to fight all five rounds, he never gives up. He’s a real champion. Thank you, Alex.”
Makhachev made it clear that he does not pick opponents and had no plans to call for his next challenger, instead telling UFC president Dana White and the matchmakers to “give me someone.” He won the title with a submission of Oliveira in October 2022.
Volkanovski was disappointed in the way the fight played out but made it clear he wanted to fight again as soon as the cuts on his face healed, claiming that sitting at home and not fighting is hard on him mentally.
“Obviously, a great setup and good kick,” Volkanovski said. “Obviously, it’s hard. I don’t like losing. It hurts me. He’s a great champion. I back myself every time, always back yourself. … I just want to say to the UFC, please keep me busy. I don’t do well when I’m not fighting. I had to take this fight because not fighting was doing my head in.”
Volkanovski is likely to face Ilia Topuria in his next featherweight title defense.
Elsewhere on the card, Khamzat Chimaev appears to have stamped his ticket to a middleweight title shot with a majority decision over former welterweight king Kamaru Usman. Chimaev sprinted out of the gates with his power wrestling and nearly locked in a rear naked choke before Usman was able to shake him off his back briefly. Usman did rally in the second round and appeared to do well in the striking game, but it wasn’t enough to overcome the 10-8 scorecards for the opening frame.
In one of the weirder fights of Saturday, Magomed Ankalaev and Johnny Walker ended in a no contest after Ankalaev landed an illegal knee while Walker was grounded in the first round. The knee caught Walker flush on the chin, but he did not seem to react. The action was stopped for the ringside doctor to give Walker a concussion test, after which he advise the referee that he could not continue. However, Walker pushed forward, shoved the ref and tried to make his way to Ankalaev for action to continue. Security and even UFC president Dana White entered the Octagon to get things under control, but it was a disappointing ending for a fight that was just picking up steam.
CBS Sports was with you the entire way on Saturday bringing you all the results and highlights from the UFC 294 below.
UFC 294 card and results
Islam Makhachev (c) def. Alexander Volkanovski via first-round TKO (head kick, punches)
Khamzat Chimaev def. Kamaru Usman via majority decision (29-27, 29-27, 28-28)
Magomed Ankalaev vs. Johnny Walker ends in no contest (unintentional foul)
Ikram Aliskerov def. Warlley Alves via first-round TKO (knee, punches)
Said Nurmagomedov def. Muin Gafurov via first-round submission (guillotine choke)
Muhammad Mokaev def. Tim Elliot via third-round submission (arm-triangle choke)
Trevor Peek def. Mohammad Yahya via unanimous decision (29-28, 30-27, 30-27)
Javid Basharat vs. Victor Henry ends in no contest (accidental groin strike)
Sedriques Dumas def. Abu Azaitar via unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28)
Mike Breeden def. Anshul Jubli via third-round knockout (punch)
Muhammad Naimov def. Nathaniel Wood via unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28)
Viktoriia Dudakova def. Jinh Yu Frey via unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28)
Shara Magomedov def. Bruno Silva via unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27)