UFC 290 delivered an action-packed event filled with captivating moments, featuring noteworthy highlights such as Alexander Volkanovski's impressive featherweight title defense, an intense face-off involving Israel Adesanya, and much more.
In his bout against Yair Rodriguez, Volkanovski displayed dominant performance, thoroughly controlling the fight and ultimately securing a victory in the third round. His superior defense and skillful takedowns were complemented by devastating elbow strikes.
This impressive win marked Volkanovski's fifth consecutive title defense. However, it was not without its challenges, as the champion sustained an injury during the fight, slightly dampening the celebration of his triumph.
“I knew he’d switch stance and the right hook would be good, I know I could go anywhere. I showed I can wrestle and strike with the rest of them.
“Sky is the limit. There’s a few options, I need surgery on my arm, camp was a struggle, I’ll get that as soon as I’m home and fight once more this year, I’ll squash Topuria and I still want that lightweight belt,” says Volkanovski
Despite his recent injury, Volkanovski remains focused on a potential rematch with Islam Makhachev. Volkanovski suffered a unanimous-decision loss to Makhachev in their previous encounter, and he is determined to seek redemption and avenge his defeat.
“We all know I want that lightweight belt. We all know I want that rematch. I want that Islam fight. I think not only for me to get that belt, to get that win back but I think it is a massive fight for the UFC as well,”
Robbie Lawler’s Retirement
Robbie Lawler retired following his 38-second knockout of Niko Price. Lawler ended his career with a record of 30-16 in MMA, which included a 15-10 record in the UFC.
The post fight celebrations were understandably emotional, as Lawler stated in his comments, when the UFC played a clip of his highlights in the cage.
“It’s an honor and a freaking pleasure to see that. The UFC and Dana (White) did a great job of honoring me. The fans did a great job of honoring me and my career and everything I’ve given to the sport,” Lawler
Bo Nickal Stays Undefeated
In a similar fashion, Bo Nickal extended his unbeaten streak with an impressive 38-second knockout victory over Val Woodburn.
It is worth noting that Woodburn was a late replacement, which may temper the significance of the result. However, the major news overshadowing the fight was Nickal's confirmation that his wife is pregnant.
“I’m a husband [and] I’m also going to be a father soon. My wife is pregnant. And it’s really cool to knock people out in the Octagon.
“I just did it. It’s really cool. But it’s even cooler to be a good husband and a good dad, and that’s what’s most important to me in life,” says Nickal
Du Plessis And Adesanya Face Off
In the aftermath of Dricus Du Plessis' second-round TKO win against Robert Whittaker, tensions escalated during an intense face-off between Du Plessis and Israel Adesanya.
The rivalry between the two fighters stemmed from Du Plessis' bold statement, where he targeted both Adesanya and Francis Ngannou, asserting his intent to become the first person from Africa to bring a championship belt.
In response to Du Plessis' remarks, Adesanya, having successfully reclaimed the middleweight title in a fight against Alex Pereira, vowed to defeat Du Plessis in a future showdown.
During their recent face-off, the atmosphere was charged with a personal undertone, indicating the depth of animosity between the two fighters.
Pantoja Becomes Flyweight Champion
To conclude the event, Alexandre Pantoja secured a split decision victory over Brandon Moreno for the UFC featherweight title.
However, the battle took its toll on both fighters, as they were both subsequently transported to the hospital. The fight was characterized by its intensity, with Pantoja experiencing exhaustion and falling to the canvas, while Moreno endured a broken hand during the bout.
“I worked so hard. I left everything I had,” says Pantoja
With such an action-packed weekend, UFC 290 had plenty off talking points.