UFC 290: Volkanovski vs Rodriguez Recap

Photo Credit: ZUFFA LLC

Alex Volkanovski defeats Yair Rodriguez via TKO at 4:19 of round 3

Alex Volkanovski made the fifth defense of his word title with an emphatic victory over Yair Rodriguez.

After spending the first round on top, Volkanovski tagged Yair a few times on the feet in the second round. During his entry on one of his attacks, Volkanovski got caught with a straight punch down the pipe. He wisely went for the takedown straightaway, finishing the round on top just as he had in the first. Now down two rounds to the champion, Yair Rodriguez began to open up more with his diverse kicking game. For a few moments it seemed the tide was about to turn, Rodriguez even caught Volkanovski clean a few times.

Suddenly Volkanovski catches Yair flush with a right hand and wobbles him badly. Rodriguez is forced to retreat to the fence where Volkanovski followed, unloading a barrage of shots. The champion wisely took Yair down while he was disoriented, then rained down ground and pound shots until Herb Dean waived the fight off. As far as what lies ahead for Volkanovski, it would appear he has a plethora of options:

“I want that lightweight belt. I’m still coming for that, whoever’s next. Illia’s been running his mouth, if he wants to keep going I’ll show him what’s up. I’ll squash him too.”

Alex Volkanovski post-fight UFC 290

Alexandre Pantoja defeats Brandon Moreno via split decision (49-46, 48-47, 48-47)

Alexandre Pantoja just beat Brandon Moreno for the third time in his career, but this time he took the belt home with him.

This was a razor close fight that could have gone either way, with justifiable scorecards on both sides. Not to mention, it was a wild slug fest at times that tested both men’s chin and cardio ability. Pantoja’s willingness to engage and attack despite being much more visibly tired than Moreno was impressive, and ultimately what won him this fight. After finally securing the UFC title, Alexandre had a heartfelt post-fight interview, bringing his family sitting cageside to tears:

“My mom, (she) take care of me and my two brothers alone, you know? Now dad, (are) you proud of me?”

Alexandre Pantoja post-fight UFC 290

Other Results

Dricus Du Plessis defeats Robert Whittaker via TKO at 2:23 of round 2

Dricus Du Plessis just scored not only the biggest win of his career, but also a chance to challenge for the middleweight title.

After winning a close first round with some serious ground and pound shots, Dricus knocked Whittaker down with a jab. Du Plessis swarmed immediately to hunt the finish, unloading combinations to Whittaker’s head and body against the cage. Rob eventually dropped to the canvas again, and soon after Marc Goddard was forced to stop the fight. An absolute stunner of a result, and Whittaker’s first non-title fight loss since 2014. Reigning middleweight champion Israel Adesanya then entered the cage for an impromptu faceoff with Dricus; all signs point to that fight happening in Sydney later this year.

Dan Hooker defeats Jalin Turner via split decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28)

Dan Hooker and Jalin Turner just had one of the best fights of the year.

The first round featured mostly even exchanges, Turner landed the more effective strikes and was able to edge out a close round. The second round is where the mayhem began; Turner was all over Hooker, cutting him open badly and wobbling him several times. Just as the round was about to end, Hooker had arguably the biggest moment of the fight. He hurt Jalin badly with a combination and unloaded on him against the cage. Dan then got a deep rear-naked choke in, but Turner was saved by the bell. The third round felt like Turner was just trying to survive, tripping over himself as Dan was applying the pressure. The fight ended up going to the scorecards, where Dan Hooker was awarded a split decision win.

Bo Nickal defeats Val Woodburn via TKO at 0:38 of round 1

Bo Nickal has been touted as the best blue-chip prospect in MMA today, and he is now 5-0.

After a last minute opponent change, Bo became one of the largest betting favorites in UFC history. As the days passed, many spoke up to mention how live Woodburn was in this fight. Allegedly, Val’s takedown defense and heavy hands were going to be enough to give Bo some trouble here on short notice.

Bo proceeded to run straight through him in 38 seconds, his fifth consecutive first-round finish and the fourth tonight in under 60 seconds (UFC single-event record).

Robbie Lawler defeats Niko Price via KO at 0:38 of round 1

In his final UFC fight, Robbie Lawler managed to turn back the clock.

It’s rare to see a fighter go out on top like Lawler, but it’s even more infrequent to see a legend go out with such a dominant performance. The two engaged in the clinch right around the 30-second mark of the opening frame, where Lawler landed some short shots to the jaw and temple of Price. Niko dropped to the floor so abruptly it felt like the fans in attendance needed another second to process what had happened. A true jaw-dropping, awe-inspiring performance from Robbie Lawler, who has earned some much needed rest after his 22 year career. The UFC also played a video package for Robbie during his post-fight interview, a nice touch that we will hopefully see more of in the future.

Denise Gomes defeats Yazmin Jaurgui via TKO at 0:20 of round 1

Denise Gomes just cashed in as a huge underdog, and did so in only 20 seconds.

Gomes marched forward as soon as the fight started, seemingly urgent to get Jaurgui fighting on the back foot. While exchanging in the pocket, Gomes threw three right hands that landed as flush as any punches you’ll ever see. Now backed up against the fence, Jaurgui collapsed and began to attack a single-leg. She had done enough to elevate herself a bit in that position, but was hurt immediately after, dropping her back down towards the mat. That was enough for Jason Herzog to stop the fight, scoring Gomes with the fastest finish in strawweight history.

Cameron Saaiman defeats Terrence Mitchell via TKO at 3:10 of round 1

Cameron Saaiman had a dominant, smothering victory over Terrence Mitchell.

The former K-1 world champion threatened early with a tight guillotine, then eventually took Mitchell’s back, flattened him out, and rained down some ground and pound shots until the referee was forced to intervene. Saaiman improved to 9-0, now 3-0 in the UFC.

Jesus Aguilar defeats Shannon Ross via KO at 0:17 of round 1

Jesus Aguilar had the first of four finishes on this card in under 60 seconds.

Jesus landed a beautiful overhand right on Shannon Ross, who collapsed to the canvas, stiff as a board with his arm extended. Jesus stood over his unconscious body for an extra second, just for good measure presumably. That KO scored Aguilar the second fastest finish in flyweight history.

Esteban Ribovics defeats Kamuela Kirk via unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28)

The first fight of the night was arguably the most entertaining of the whole card.

Esteban Ribovics found himself down after one round then proceeded to wreak havoc in round 2. He floored Kirk to the mat several times, unloaded combinations against the cage, and stuffed multiple takedowns. While Kirk was landing in these exchanges in round 2, he was much more drained in the final frame. Ribovics poured it on in round 3, overwhelming Kirk with long combinations and sustained pressure. By the end of the third round the decision was inevitably going Esteban’s way, but it was a firecracker of a bout, exactly what you’d want to open a massive card.

Massachusetts native currently writing for Severe MMA. Former writer for Neutral Zone LLC. Follow me on Twitter @lander_theo, LinkedIn and Youtube @ Theo Lander for articles and event coverage.

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