UFC 290: Volkanovski TKOs Rodriguez
Alexander Volkanovski and Yair Rodriguez are both very good and pretty damn dangerous from range. Volkanovski showed early that he was better on the ground and has a more well-rounded MMA game, but the long time champion still willingly decided to mostly fight from distance.
Despite the interim champion’s explosive and tricky kicks, Volkanovski played Rodriguez’s game and proved that he’s better at it. Yair had a couple of nice head kicks in the contest, but Volkanovski was the one to actually land the most meaningful shots, hurting Rodriguez in the third and finding a finish.
After his skillful performance marked his fifth title defense, Volkanovski proved his case to be the true top pound-for-pound fighter today. These debates are pretty pointless, but Jon Jones fighting once in three years and beating the third best heavyweight speaks more for his overall resume and longevity, than actually being the best today.
Either way, Volkanovski clearly looks like the most skilled UFC champion today, and he deserves a far more recognition, respect, and a long overdue marketing push.
UFC 290 crowns a new champion
Does Alexandre Pantoja have Brandon Moreno’s number? That might not be a completely fair question, being that we saw an competitive and back-and-forth affair, but after UFC 290, the Brazilian is now 3-0 over Moreno.
Both men have improved so much since their first two fights in 2016 and 2018, but after a really close fight, Pantoja ended up with the split decision victory. This third win over Moreno is also far more meaningful, as Pantoja finally won the UFC flyweight title in the process.
As a side note, Pantoja’s post-fight interview cut deep.
“My mom take care of me and my two brothers alone,” an emotional Pantoja said after winning the belt. “Now dad, are you proud of me? Are you proud of me?”
As for Moreno, even if the match was fun, a rematch seems like a tough sell with the three losses, so we can expect a harder road back to the top for him. He probably needs fresh match ups anyway, considering he has four bouts with Figueireido, three with Pantoja and two with Kai-Kara France in his UFC career already.
UFC 290 Undercard
- Apart from Pantoja, Dricus Du Plessis was probably the biggest winner on this card. He isn’t fast and isn’t technical, but his awkwardness and physicality overcame those deficiencies. He not only beat a former champion and long time contender in Robert Whittaker, he stopped him, making it clear that he is indeed the next title challenger. That face off with Adesanya will also really hype up that future title fight too. Massive night for the South African fighter.
- Dan Hooker scored an incredible comeback win. He seemed to be getting picked apart early, and even ate a clean head kick like it was nothing. He then somehow completely turned the tide against the bigger Jalin Turner, en route to a quality decision win.
- It was a super short notice opponent, but despite pretty much being in almost a no-win situation, Bo Nickal still found a way to look great. He showed power, accuracy, and good striking ability for a newcomer, and didn’t even need to use his vaunted wrestling to pick up a very quick win.
- Not many in MMA get to do it, but Robbie Lawler had a story book ending to his career. Power is last to go, and if retirement sticks and this is indeed it for Lawler, that quick KO over Niko Price is just the best way to do it.
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