Fight Facts: UFC 298 ‘Volkanovski vs. Topuria’

UFC
February 19, 2024
UFC 298 featured a life-changing single punch, a reminder that a former champ is still on top of his game and a switcheroo that almost worked.

TOTAL NUMBER OF UFC FIGHTS: 7,527

TOTAL NUMBER OF UFC EVENTS: 679

The Ultimate Fighting Championship pulled into Anaheim, California, with a big show in tow. The action delivered when needed, with no result more stunning than the main attraction. UFC 298 featured a life-changing single punch, a reminder that a former champ is still on top of his game and a switcheroo that almost worked.

Chalk Until the End: At night’s end, 10 of the 11 betting favorites on UFC 298 prevailed. Ilia Topuria sprang the lone upset, while Mingyang Zhang vs. Brendson Ribeiro checked in as a pick ‘em.

The King is Dead, Long Live the King: Decimating Alexander Volkanovski with one punch to claim the featherweight crown, Topuria became the fifth man to hoist the 145-pound belt in UFC history.

Soccer Stadium, Ahoy: Born in Germany, raised in Georgia and currently living and training in Spain, Topuria became the first competitor from any of those nations to claim a UFC title.

No Fluke or Dispute About It: Topuria remained undefeated and joined a class of just over a dozen to win an undisputed UFC belt with a spotless record. With his win, he lifted his finish rate to 87%. Topuria’s five career knockouts have all come within his last eight outings.

Chin Depletion: Scoring a knockdown in the second round before the finish, Topuria became the third man to drop the durable Volkanovski in the Octagon. He joins Chad Mendes and Islam Makhachev.

No Longer Flawless at Featherweight: Before coming to the UFC, Volkanovski had shifted regularly between weight classes from featherweight to welterweight. With five 145-pound tilts prior to his UFC signing and 11 in the UFC, he competed at featherweight 16 times before losing.

Can’t Be Touched, Sometimes: Since moving to the weight class in 2014, Whittaker has picked up 13 victories at middleweight. He is now tied with Nate Marquardt, Thales Leites, Yushin Okami and Israel Adesanya for the fifth-most in divisional history. Michael Bisping’s 16 serve as the most.

Prefers Prolonged Beatings: Of his 13 triumphs at 185 pounds, nine of those for Whittaker have come on the scorecards. His nine decision wins join Michael Bisping in third place for the most in the weight category. Krzysztof Jotko (10) and Brad Tavares (13) are the only two to hold more.A Heavy Bag That Made Faces: After three bloody rounds, Whittaker connected with 95 significant strikes on Paulo Costa. This brings his middleweight total to 1,084, which leapfrogs him up to the third-most behind Sean Strickland (1,155) and Bisping (1,384).

What’s in the Juice: Costa started his career with 12 straight finishes until he met Yoel Romero in 2019. Since then, Costa has heard the final bell in four of his five encounters.

The Future is Cloudy: Needing all 15 minutes to beat Geoff Neal, Ian Garry remained unbeaten and picked up a split decision. The Irishman has reached the third round in six of his last eight outings.

Machine-Powered:Merab Dvalishvili passed the test and outhustled Henry Cejudo en route to a decision victory. He has won nine fights in a row at bantamweight—and 10 overall—which ties him with Aljamain Sterling for the longest streak in the UFC’s 135-pound division.

Grinding in a More Civilized Age: “The Machine” scored five takedowns on the Olympic gold medalist in freestyle wrestling, further adding to his record total of 66 at 135 pounds. His 79 overall are the third-most in company history, behind Gleison Tibau’s 84 and Georges St. Pierre’s 90.

Not Used to This Angle: Before facing Dvalishvili, Cejudo had only been taken down five times in his UFC tenure, including once by Demetrious Johnson and four times by Aljamain Sterling. The Georgian landed five by himself.

Fluffy Power: In the second round, Anthony Hernandez wrangled and strangled Roman Kopylov with a rear-naked choke. “Fluffy” has won five fights in a row, with four finishes, and his stoppage rate is elevated to 83%.

Small Bricks for Fists:Amanda Lemos sat Mackenzie Dern down in the second round, ultimately winning a decision. The six total knockdowns for Lemos at strawweight serve as the most in the weight category.

Wiping Her Tears with Hundreds: While she did not get her hand raised, Dern received half of the “Fight of the Night” check, which accounts for her sixth bonus at 115 pounds. The grappler ties Rose Namajunas for the second-most post-fight bonuses in divisional history, with both trailing Jessica Andrade’s nine.

Solid Replacement: A first in the UFC, one brother replaced another in a bout. Justin Tafa suffered a knee injury on fight week, and Junior Tafa volunteered to step in against Marcos Rogerio de Lima.

Need a Calf Replacement: Rogerio de Lima put away late replacement Tafa with a leg kick and follow-up punches. “Pezao” has notched 18 stoppages across his 22 pro wins, including four since moving back to heavyweight.

Openweight Memories: Of the 18 recorded leg kick stoppages across UFC history, three have now come at the heavyweight division—plus Marco Ruas over Paul Varelans at UFC 7 before the promotion implemented weight classes. It is the first at that weight since Pat Barry put Dan Evensen away at UFC 92 in 2008.

That Weird 50/50 Guard: It took Rinya Nakamura all three rounds to solve the puzzle of Carlos Vera and win a decision. The undefeated Japanese prospect is now a perfect 9-0 as a pro, but two of his three career decisions have come in his last two fights.

Not Becoming of a Monumental Favorite: Ahead of his match with Vera, Nakamura closed as a -1200 betting favorite. He served as the largest favored UFC fighter since Bo Nickal came in at -1400 against UFC 298 competitor Valentine Woodburn in July 2023.

Still, He Lost to Askar Mozharov: In 101 seconds, Zhang smoked Brendson Ribeiro with a combination of punches. The 25-year-old from China celebrates all 17 wins by first-round stoppage, including 10 straight.

Left Hand to Face:Danny Barlow advanced to 8-0 in his career by drumming out Josh Quinlan with strikes in the third round. “Left Hand 2 God” has earned 75% of his victories inside the distance.

Welsh Rarebit: When time expired, Oban Elliott had done enough to outwork Woodburn and pick up the decision. The Welshman started with stoppages accounting for all five wins but has since won five straight via decision.

The KGB is a Relic of the Past: Suffering a decision loss to Miranda Maverick—her fourth in a row—flyweight staple Andrea Lee appeared for the 12th time at the division. “KGB” is one bout shy of the record Katlyn Chookagian and Gillian Robertson hold.

Standing on One Another’s Shoulders: As Maverick landed three takedowns on Lee, and Lee responded with two of her own, both women moved up the flyweight ladder for the most at 125 pounds. Lee’s 21 are tied for the second-most, while Maverick’s 19 trail her in fourth place.

Never Say Never Again: Coming into UFC 298, Volkanovski (29 fights) and Dern (17 fights) had never dropped consecutive bouts, Tafa (six fights) and Quinlan (eight fights) had never been finished and Woodburn had never lost on the scorecards (eight fights).

Came to Get It Right:“Can’t Be Touched” by Roy Jones-helmed rap group Body Head Bangerz remains one of the winningest songs in UFC history. Whittaker has selected it 16 times as a UFC fighter while prevailing in 14 of those bouts following his triumph over Costa.

Got Me on My Knees: In his last three fights, Garry has picked “Layla” by Derek & the Dominos as his entrance music. The Irishman has picked up the win after all three of those walkouts.

Reach Out and Touch Faith: A first for UFC walkout music, Ribeiro selected a cut from Depeche Mode. The Brazilian went with “Personal Jesus” as the first Depeche Mode song ever selected as a walkout song, and he came up short.

Reference: https://www.sherdog.com/news/articles/Fight-Facts-UFC-298-Volkanovski-vs-Topuria-192667

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