UFC featherweight champion Alexander Volkanovski delivered the most dominant title defence of his reign with victory over ‘The Korean Zombie’ Chan Sung Jung at UFC 273.
Australia’s Volkanovski, 33, looked a class above two-time title challenger Jung as he outboxed and outwrestled his opponent in Jacksonville, Florida.
He stopped him with strikes to earn a fourth-round TKO victory.
Volkanovski started well and earned Jung’s respect with his boxing as he held the upper hand throughout the opening five minutes, then dropped the South Korean in the closing seconds of the round.
The champion wobbled Jung again in round two with a big left hook, then dropped him for second time with a powerful two-punch combination as he took control of the contest through the early rounds.
Jung attempted to battle his way back into contention in round three and enjoyed some success with his counter shots, but Volkanovski’s punches carried too much power for the challenger as he dropped his man for a third time, then came close to finishing him with ground strikes as the horn sounded to end the round.
There was some doubt over whether Jung would be allowed to come out for the fourth round, but after he did, it took just a couple of heavy punches from Volkanovski to force referee Herb Dean to step in and stop the fight just 45 seconds into the round.
It meant that Volkanovski retained his title and extended his remarkable win streak to 21 fights as he improved his record to 24-1.
“I told you before this fight, all week, I said I’m on another level right now,” he said after his win.
“I can’t be stopped, and I just showed you. He actually took a lot more than I wanted him to. I thought they could have stopped it a bit earlier and I started feeling bad in there, but that’s the sport we’re in.”
Sterling edges split-decision to unify titles
UFC bantamweight champion Aljamain Sterling defeated interim champion Petr Yan in their bantamweight title rematch to unify the championship and bury the controversy of their first fight, but a new argument emerged after the matchup went to a split decision.
After a closely contested opening round, New York’s Sterling, 32, dominated rounds two and three before fending off a spirited comeback from Russia’s Yan in the championship rounds to earn scores of 48-47, 47-48, 48-47 from the octagonside judges.
It meant that Sterling cemented his status as the undisputed champion having won the title via disqualification after an illegal knee from Yan left the American unable to continue in their first title clash.
There was no such controversy during the action this time around, however, with Sterling using his grappling skills to dominate Yan, 29 through the second and third rounds as he looked to find a submission.
Yan came back with a better round in round four to set up a crucial final frame, and the Russian did well to fend off Sterling’s relentless takedown attempts, before scoring with a big flying knee as the former champion finished the stronger of the two.
It meant that the result hung in the balance as both fighters waited for the judges’ scorecards, and it was Sterling who took the victory to claim the 21st win of his career and extend his win streak to seven fights.
“I know came in here very highly doubted. People wrote me off after my last performance, but I told you guys, that was a big hiccup,” said Sterling after his victory.
Yan disputed the judges’ scores, saying he won three of the five rounds, before calling for a second rematch with ‘The Funkmaster’.
Chimaev edges three-round thriller
Undefeated Swedish welterweight contender Khamzat Chimaev claimed the most important – and hardest-earned – win of his UFC career with a unanimous decision victory over number-two-ranked contender Gilbert Burns.
Three-time Swedish freestyle wrestling champion Chimaev and three-time jiu-jitsu world champion Burns served up a thrilling bout that went all the way to the judges’ scorecards after 15 breathless minutes of back-and-forth action.
Chimaev had completely dominated his first four fights in the UFC, as he burst on to the big stage with a quartet of impressive finishes. But against Burns, the 27-year-old was pushed to the limit as he was forced to fight all the way to the scorecards for the first time in his career.
Chimaev started fast and had Burns in trouble early as he dropped the Brazilian and threatened to finish with ground strikes. But ‘Durinho’ stayed tough and survived the early onslaught, before enjoying success of his own with some solid punches.
Then in round two Burns turned up the heat and stunned Chimaev with a huge right hand as he threatened to turn the tables on the unbeaten Swede. The fight then became a back-and-forth slugfest, with both men connecting with big strikes as the Jacksonville crowd were brought to their feet.
It meant the fight was hanging in the balance heading into the final round, and both men traded more huge shots in a breathless final frame as the fight went all the way to the final horn.
The judges were in agreement over the final verdict, with all three scoring the fight 29-28 in favour of Chimaev, who improved his perfect professional record to 11-0 and immediately entered the title conversation at 170 pounds.
But before he gets a shot at the welterweight crown, Chimaev may already have his next test lined up, with UFC president Dana White revealing earlier this week that he would look to book Chimaev against former interim champion Colby Covington in a main event later this summer.
Dern edges towards strawweight title shot
Earlier in the night, former Brazilian jiu-jitsu world champion Mackenzie Dern claimed the biggest win of her UFC career with a split-decision victory over perennial contender Tecia Torres.
In a tight contest that left the judges split after three rounds, Dern, 29, came closest to finishing the fight in a dominant second round that saw her threaten to hand 32-year-old Torres the first stoppage defeat of her career. But, despite attempting a succession of submissions, Dern was unable to force ‘The Tiny Tornado’ to tap.
It meant the judges were called into action, with the split decision going Dern’s way, with scores of 28-29, 29-28, 29-28.
The opening main card bout of the night saw Denmark’s Olympic silver medal-winning wrestler Mark Madsen claim a unanimous decision victory over octagon veteran Vinc Pichel.
Madsen, 37, extended his unbeaten record to 12-0 with scores of 30-27, 30-27, 29-28.
In the night’s featured preliminary card bout, Ireland’s Ian Garry claimed the second win of his UFC career with a unanimous decision victory over American Darian Weeks.
Undefeated Garry, 24, exploded into the UFC with a first-round knockout of Jordan Williams on his octagon debut last November, but in Jacksonville Weeks provided a much sterner test as he took the former Cage Warriors champion the distance.
“At the end of the day, it’s 15 minutes in the cage – I’m not happy with it, I like finishing fights,” he admitted.
“But it’s experience and, as I said before, I’m not perfect yet.”
Garry then announced some big personal news, before calling on UFC president Dana White and matchmakers Mick Maynard and Sean Shelby to pack his schedule in the months ahead.
“I know I’ve got a lot to learn, but my wife is pregnant, we’re expecting at the end of the year,” he said.
“Dana! Mick! Sean! Line them up, I’ll knock them out. And by the time I’m done with this division, everybody is going to be calling me ‘daddy’.”