After brutal knockout win at UFC 298, what’s next for champ Ilia Topuria?

MMA: UFC 298-Volkanovski vs Topuria
Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

UFC 298 saw a major changing of the guard in both the featherweight division and the pound for pound landscape. This past Saturday night in the main event, Alexander Volkanovski (26-4) was looking for his sixth successful title defense against Ilia Topuria (15-0).

The first round was very close between the two. Volkanovski was fighting off his back foot with a ton of pressure from Topuria. Throughout the first, it looked like Topuria was looking for big power shots while Volkanovski was adding up the points with his volume. Ultimately, all three judges gave the first round to the champion.

The second round featured much of the same, but it felt like Volk was having even more success with head shots. Topuria was starting to wear a little damage and then everything changed. Topuria charged forward with a big combination that pushes Volkanovski against the fence.

The final shot in the sequence was a brutal right hand that put Volkanovski out cold. He went down and the referee stopped the fight crowning Ilia Topuria the new UFC featherweight champion.

What’s next after UFC 298?

What a night it was for Ilia Topuria. He dethroned the greatest featherweight of all time, became the featherweight champion and proved that he belongs at the very top of the pound for pound debate. When the rankings come out tomorrow, there’s no reason he shouldn’t be near the very top of the list.

The big question is, what’s next for Topuria. When the UFC looks at their new champion, you know that they see dollar signs and they see an opening to a new market. The promotion wants to go to Spain and now they can go there with their new champion who is a superstar there.

My guess is that they try to make that happen in the late summer months and Alexander Volkanovski is going to be the leading candidate for his first title defense. Yes, he just knocked out Volk. However, Volkanovski had five successful title defenses including three wins over Max Holloway and dominant wins over Yair Rodriguez and Brian Ortega who are fighting this upcoming weekend.

The only reason Volkanovski wouldn’t get the shot is if he wants to take some time off due to the nature of his losses. Other than that, we should see the UFC look to book Topuria – Volkanovski 2 sometime over the summer.

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