In a sport like mixed martial arts which is either filled with the highest of highs or plagued with the lowest of lows, respect between two high-level competitors always stands out above all.
Tensions were high and both men exchanged words in the build-up to UFC 294 but it was all respect between Islam Makhachev and Alexander Volkanovski once the fight came to an end.
After falling to defeat for just the second time in his career inside the octagon, Volkanovski took some time out of his schedule to go and congratulate the reigning lightweight king. In the midst of his struggle after the loss, the featherweight champion still sought out Makhachev backstage and the pair shared a short but special moment.
Check out the encounter between two of the greatest fighters that mixed martial arts has ever seen in the video below.
— UFC (@ufc) October 21, 2023
Despite exuding confidence in the lead-up to UFC 294 which riled up his opponent, Volkanovski continued to show his class once the dust settled on the main event.
Looking to shock the world and achieve the unthinkable on just 11 days’ notice, ‘The Great’ accepted the UFC’s call to replace the injured Charles Oliveira and compete for the lightweight throne on October 21. The Australian faced an uphill battle having already suffered defeat to the Russian during their first meeting earlier this year.
The fairytale result didn’t come to fruition and it was Islam Makhachev who walked away with gold wrapped around his waist. The 31-year-old delivered a performance bonus-worthy display and silenced his doubters with a huge head kick knockout in the opening round of their possible five-round affair.
Not only did he reclaim his title and secure a finish over the #2 pound-for-pound fighter in the world, but he also extended his winning run inside the octagon to 13 straight.
His win streak is the longest of any active UFC fighter and while he has a number of hungry 155ers gunning for his crown, a potential move up in weight to compete for a second belt could well be on the horizon for the dominant Makhachev.