With Charles Oliveira pulling out of the fight injured, it was Alexander Volknaovski seizing opportunity by the throat at UFC 294, where he entered a rematch with Islam Makhachev for the UFC lightweight championship.
Volkanovski had come close, but never managed to grab the shiny gold cigar in question, in the pair’s first meeting. In Abu Dhabi, he was getting his second chance in a little over a week’s notice.
As for Makhachev, unlike his Australian opponent, he was competing for the first time since the pair’s original meeting (Volkanovski defeated Yair Rodriguez, defending his featherweight title back in July).
With Saturday’s main event underway it was Volkanovski landing the first kick of the night with a crack. After some circling and feeling out, Makhachev shot in, about 90 seconds into the round. The lightweight champ took the fight to the fence, but Volkanovski reversed, and landed a few short punches in close. Volkanovski looked for a trip, couldn’t land it, and had to contend with a knee; Makhachev reversed, but the Australian reversed again before they broke.
At distance, Makhachev landed a single punch, but Volkanovski shook it off. What he did not shake off was the head kick that Makhachev landed moments later! Volkanovski was rocked, wobbly legs and all, and went down. Makhachev jumped on top and began raining down ground n’ pound until the ref called it off, with Volkanovski looking upset, perhaps more with himself than the stoppage.
Official Result: Islam Makhachev def. Alexander Volkanovski by KO (head kick to ground n’ pound), Round 1, 3:06