Video Credit: ESPN MMA

New FSM Essential Recap: UFC 290 – Volkanovski vs Rodríguez

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International Fight Week concludes at UFC 290 with one of the best cards of the year!

UFC 289 – Nunes vs Aldana occurred Saturday night in Vancouver, Canada.

UFC 290 closed out International Fight Week with arguably one of the best cards through 2023. From the prelims to the main event, non-stop action occurred throughout the T-Mobile Arena on Saturday night. UFC legend Robbie Lawler finished his final fight with a first-round KO to close the prelims. Dan Hooker overcame a late start and a broken arm to defeat Jalin Turner.

Dricus Du Plessis shocked the world after beating Robert Whittaker and delivering one of the most insane face-offs with the champ, Israel Adesanya. And Brandon Moreno lost his belt for the second time after his third loss to Alexandre Pantoja in the co-main event. There were plenty of incredible moments throughout the card at UFC 290. Still, the most unforgettable performance came in the night’s final fight, as Alexander “The Great” Volkanovski faced Yair Rodríguez to unify the featherweight title.

UFC 290 more than lived up to the billing!

Volkanovski cements his spot at the top with a third-round TKO victory

UFC 290 – Volkanovski vs Rodríguez was an epic fight!

UFC 290 Volkanovski and Rodríguez
Stephen R. Sylvanie/USA Today Sports

Saturday night’s performance showed that Alexander “The Great” Volkanovski (26-2-0) is not just the best in the featherweight division but possibly the best fighter in the UFC.

The Australian champion made quick work in his return to the featherweight division of dismantling one of the most dangerous 145-pounders on the planet in Yair Rodríguez (16-4-0). Volkanovski controlled the fight with a dominant performance displaying his overall versatility and IQ. Though many predicted this fight to be a back-and-fourth war, it became obvious in the first round that Saturday night’s main event would be a one-way beat down.

The fight started with Volkanovski taking charge of the pressure and walking down Rodríguez. As one of the most dangerous strikers on the UFC roster, Rogríguez attempted to keep his distance from Volk, walking back and throwing long-range kicks to utilize his long reach, but the champ remained persistent. As Rodriguez attempted another kick to the sternum, Volkanovski instantly grabbed Yair’s leg and forced him to the mat, scoring his first takedown of the night. From there, Volkanovski began to drop, punishing elbows and strikes. Rodríguez managed to make it back to his feet but was immediately brought back down. Volkanovski, again, rained down punishment as he remained on top of Rodríguez throughout the end of the round.

In the second round, Rodríguez continued to struggle against the strength of Volkanovski. The round started with both Volkanovski and Rodríguez exchanging strikes on their feet. Rodríguez managed to land his first meaningful shots of the night to start, but the fight soon went back to the mat as Volkanovski scored another takedown. Volkanovski easily maintained the top position as he pinned Yair’s head between the mat and the cage with his left hand and landed big hooks with his right. The champion squeezed the air out of his opponent and allowed no options for Rodríguez to escape as the round ended again with Yair being mauled by Volkanovski.

Going into the third round, the fight took a change of pace as both fighters remained on their feet and exchanged blows. At the three-minute mark, Rodríguez finally managed to hurt Volkanovski with a hard-left hook. Rodríguez continued this momentum as he found his range and landed multiple strikes on Volkanovski. As the momentum of the fight switched, Volkanovski switched back to his original game plan and began coming forward to get ahold of Yair. Still, the interim champ managed to use his longer reach to land timely shots that kept the champion at bay.

UFC 290 – Volkanovski vs Rodríguez first half of the fight

Just as it seemed the fight was beginning to swing in Yair’s favor as he continued to land big shots in his best round of the fight, Volkanovski took over and reminded everyone who the true champion was.

UFC 290 – Volkanovski vs Rodríguez second half of the fight

UFC 290 Volkanovski and Rodríguez
Chris Unger/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images

With just under a minute left in the round and the champ hurt, Rodríguez looked for his opportunity to finish the fight. Rodríguez managed to land a powerful head kick, but Volkanovski was quick to counter with a stiff right hook that shook Yair and wabbled him back against the fence.

Volkanovski instantly closed the distance and attacked Rodríguez with hard shots. As Rodríguez attempted to cover up his head from the strikes, Volkanovski changed levels and grabbed his legs to throw him down once again to the mat. From there, Volkanovski bludgeoned Rodríguez with multiple powerful shots from the top position and forced referee Herb Dean to stop the fight with 4:19 left in the round, giving Volkanovski the TKO victory.

When asked what was next for him in the post-fight interview, Volkanovski addressed all of his potential options following his victory at UFC 290. The champ confirmed his reign would continue over the featherweight division and his hopes of potentially fighting the undefeated and fifth-ranked 145-pounder Ilia Topuria. Volkanovski also stated his plans for a rematch with Islam Makhachev and another try for “Champ-Champ” status with the lightweight title was still in play. Volkanovski addressed these options but stated they would all have to wait, as he admitted his need for surgery due to an injury suffered during his training camp for Saturday night’s main event.

It’s unfortunate to know we will have to wait to see the next fight from the featherweight king, but the wait will certainly prove worth it. Whether he continues to wipe out the entire featherweight division or decides to take over the 155-pound ranks, either way, we can be sure to expect another legendary performance from one of the best ever to do it, Alexander “The Great” Volkanovski.

UFC 290 – fight card was one the best in UFC history, cumulating with the great fight between Volkanovski vs Rodríguez

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-Griffin Kemp – Franchise Sports Media

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