Aussie Volkanovski relinquishes UFC featherweight title after KO loss

Unbeaten Ilia Topuria has stopped Alexander Volkanovski in the second round to claim the featherweight title at UFC 298 in Los Angeles, ending the Australian champion’s four-year reign.

Topuria, a Georgian who lives and trains in Spain, controlled the first round of his first UFC title fight with sharp striking before he sensationally finished off Volkanovski with more of the same.

Topuria staggered 35-year-old Volkanovski to the cage with a left-right combination and put him on the canvas with a perfect right hand followed by a big left.

He finished the stunned Volkanovski on the ground with 1:28 left, improving to a 7-0 win-loss record since joining the UFC in late 2020.

“I feel so happy right now,” Topuria said.

“They told me I couldn’t do it. … Just trust yourself, and anything is possible. Just look at me now.”

Topuria is unbeaten since joining the UFC in 2020.(Getty Images: Sean M Haffey)

Volkanovski (26-4) had made five consecutive successful title defences since winning his belt in late 2019, but his reign ended with his first featherweight loss in UFC competition.

He also lost twice in the past year to lightweight champion Islam Makhachev in a failed bid to become a two-division champion.

Humble in defeat, Volkanovski praised Topuria after the bout but said he wanted a rematch.

Topuria perfectly seized a moment several years in the making. He had stormed to the top of the list contenders for Volkanovski’s belt with six consecutive UFC victories in less than three years, capped by a blowout decision over Josh Emmett.

Billionaire Mark Zuckerberg walked out with Volkanovski and wore his cornermen’s gear in his front-row seat.

Australia’s former middleweight champion Robert Whittaker won a unanimous decision over Paulo Costa in the penultimate bout of the UFC’s first pay-per-view show in Southern California in more than two years.

Whittaker (25-7) rebounded from a loss to future middleweight champion Dricus Du Plessis last year with a comeback victory over Costa (14-3).


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