Islam Makhachev defeats Alexander Volkanovski to retain his title in the boisterous atmosphere of Perth

Islam Makhachev entered one of the most intense atmospheres in UFC history as champion on Saturday. When he left, the belt came with him.

In front of a raucous RAC Arena filled with passionate fans who cheered on his opponent Alexander Volkanovski (25-2 MMA, 12-1 UFC), promotion lightweight champion Makhachev (24-1 MMA, 13-1 UFC ) retained his title via unanimous decision (48-47, 48-47, 49-46). The bout served as the main event at UFC 284 in Perth, Australia.

Saturday’s bout pitted the world’s No. 1 and 2 ranked UFC fighters against each other – a rare occurrence. Volkanovski, the UFC Featherweight Champion, went up to 155 pounds and it was UFC Lightweight Champion Makhachev’s first title defense.

Few crowds matched the volume of the environment as Volkanovski first, then Makhachev second, entered the RAC Arena. The two fighters received opposite receptions as fans sang along to Men At Work’s “Down Under” during Volkanovski’s walk and booed during Makhachev’s walk.

The thunderous energy continued throughout the introductions and into the first round, and was renewed when Volkanovski landed the first big punch of the fight. Makhachev stumbled backwards but did not fall. Moments later, both men landed hard shots.

Makhachev’s blow briefly knocked Volkanovski. Volkanovski popped out but was shot down. Makhachev slid to the bottom but was unable to sneak into a choke before the round was over.

In Round 2, Volkanovski was first to land a significant blow. One punch dropped Makhachev, who jumped out and knocked Volkanovski down again. Volkanovski stood up and they parted. Just as Volkanovski matched his pace with successful jabs, Makhachev stunned him again. Volkanovski went into retreat and rallied before some wall-and-stalls and the round-ending horn.

The pace slowed in Round 3, as both men were more calculated and patient with their attacks. In the middle of the round, Makhachev defeated Volkanovski. But like all other cases with one exception, Volkanovski quickly got back on his feet. As the round progressed, the crowd picked up. Volkanovski’s technical jab was more successful in the closing minutes of the round, and was acknowledged by the Perth faithful on the horn.

In round 4, Makhachev returned to his roots when he completed a pristine tempo takedown. Makhachev moved onto Volkanovski’s back and locked into a body triangle. Makhachev checked Volkanovski but was unable to muster much offense over the course of three minutes to the end of the round. In the final 30 seconds, however, a fiery Volkanovski blindly threw punches above his head, which connected to Makhachev’s face.

With potentially anyone meeting at the start of Round 5, the crowd gave a standing ovation before the final frame. Makhachev hit Volkanovski with a good punch. The blow, which Volkanovski acknowledged, resulted in a cut.

Makhachev shot for a takedown, but once again Volkanovski got away. With every positive action by Volkanovski, the Perth crowd went wild. Another takedown attempt by Makhachev was repulsed, and Volkanovski won.

As the clock ticked at around four minutes into the final round, Volkanovski landed a punch that visibly shook Makhachev and sent him to the floor. The crowd erupted as Volkanovski rained down to the final bell.

With pundits and fans alike unsure exactly which direction the judges would go, Makhachev’s name was announced and the boos came.

Makhachev extends his winning streak to 12, a stretch that also includes wins over Charles Oliveira, Dan Hooker and Arman Tsarukyan.

The loss marks Volkanovski’s first time in the UFC and his first since May 2013. The loss snaps a 22-game hitting streak.

Updated results from UFC 284 include:

  • Islam Makhachev def. Alexander Volkanovski by unanimous decision (48-47, 48-47, 49-46)

  • Yair Rodríguez def. Josh Emmett via submission (triangle choke) – Round 2, 4:19

  • Jack Della Maddalena def. Randy Brown via submission (rear naked choke) – Round 1, 2:13

  • Justin Tafa def. Parker Porter via knockout (punch) – Round 1, 1:06

  • Jimmy Crute vs. Alonzo Menifield declared majority tie (29-27, 28-28, 28-28)

  • Modestas Bukauskas def. Tyson Pedro by unanimous decision (30-27, 29-28, 29-28)

  • Josh Culibao defeated. Melsik Baghdasaryan via Submission (Rear Bare Choke) – Round 2, 2:02

  • Kleydson Rodrigues defeated. Shannon Ross via TKO (strikes) – Round 1, 0:59

  • Jamie Mullarkey defeated. Francisco Prado by unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27)

  • Jack Jenkins def. Don Shainis by unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 29-28)

  • Loma Lookboonmee def. Elise Reed via submission (rear naked choke) – Round 2, 0:44

  • Blake Bilder vs. Shane Young by unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 29-28)

  • Brenner Elves def. Zubaira Tukhugov via split decision (29-28, 28-29, 30-27)

For more information on the card, visit the MMA Junkie events hub for UFC 284.

The story originally appeared in MMA Junkie

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