Makhachev retains lightweight belt with first-round KO of Alexander Volkanovski at UFC 294

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ABU DHABI, United Arab Emirates (AP) — Lightweight champion Islam Makhachev watched featherweight champion Alexander Volkanovski enter the octagon inside Etihad Arena on Yas Island in Abu Dhabi to the 1981 hit “Land Down Under” by Australian band Men At Work.

Moments later, it was Makhachev who went to work at UFC 294.

Makhachev (26-1-0) used a devastating kick with his left leg to the Australian’s right temple, then quickly pounced and used nine hammering blows with his left hand before referee Marc Goddard stopped the fight at the 3:06 mark of the first round Saturday.

“I have a great team. We always did this in the locker room, in the training — pushed me very hard,” Makhachev said. “I showed him a couple of low kicks, couple of body kicks and then changed to head kick. I want to say thank you to this guy (Volkanovski). He’s a real champion.”

The Russian fighter’s compliment referred to Volkanovski (26-3-0) taking the fight on just 11 days’ notice after Makhachev’s original opponent, Charles Oliveira, withdrew with a cut.

The victory brought closure to a rivalry that started when Volkanovski gave Makhachev what might have been the toughest test of his career in their epic 155-pound championship bout at UFC 284 in February.

Makhachev defeated Volkanovski with what many felt was a controversial unanimous decision after five competitive rounds.

On Saturday, Makhachev left no doubt.

“Great setup, good kick,” Volkanovski said. “It’s hard, never like losing. He’s a great champion, what are you going to do? Credit it to him.”

Makhachev’s win ties him for the third-longest win streak in UFC history (13).

Asked who he wanted next, Makhachev replied, “I never choose. (UFC president) Dana (White), give me someone.”

In an action-packed co-main event, Khamzat Chimaev (13-0) remained undefeated with a majority decision over former welterweight king — and arguably the No. 1 pound-for-pound candidate — Kamaru Usman (20-4), who took the middleweight bout on short notice, replacing the initial opponent, Paulo Costa.

“I was a school kid when he was fighting,” Chimaev said of Usman. “This bout to me means big things.”

Judges scored the bout 29-27 twice with a 28-28 on the third card.

In the highly anticipated light heavyweight battle between No. 2 Magomed Ankalaev (18-1-1) and No. 7 Johnny Walker (21-7-0), it was declared a no-contest at 3:13 of the first round. Ankalaev landed what was deemed an unintentional knee while Walker was down and the bout was paused.

After audio replays indicated Walker was dazed and confused during a brief exchange with ringside physician Dr. Garry Hartstein, the bout was stopped.

Walker was visibly upset and had to be held back from charging Ankalaev before UFC CEO Dana White finally entered the ring and was able to simmer down the situation.

The match was thought to provide a potential title shot for the winner.

In a middleweight battle, Ikram Aliskerov (15-1-0) used a quick jab to wobble Warlley Alves (15-7-0) and then dazed him with a vicious flying knee. Aliskerov then used a barrage of punches to win by TKO at the 2:07 mark of the first round. It was Aliskerov’s seventh-straight win and third in a row in the first round.

Said Nurmagomedov (18-3-0) opened the main card by making quick work of Muin Gafurov (18-6-0), getting the bantamweight win via a guillotine choke at the 1:13 mark of the first round.

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