After dominant title defense at UFC 290, what’s next for Alexander Volkanovski?

MMA: UFC 290 - Volkanovski vs Rodriguez
Stephen R. Sylvanie-USA TODAY Sports

This past Saturday night in the main event of UFC 290, we saw a unification title fight for the featherweight championship. The champion Alexander Volkanovski (26-2) was taking on the interim champion in Yair Rodriguez (15-4).

Heading into the fight, the biggest threat to Volkanovski was going to be the dynamic striking and kicking game of Rodriguez. To neutralize that, Volkanovski needed to get things in close or perhaps take things to the ground. The first two rounds, that’s exactly what he did.

Volkanovski took Rodriguez down and battered him for the first two rounds of the fight. Rodriguez started to find success in the third round when things stayed on the feet. He was able to catch Volkanovski a few times and was landing big kicks. However, on an entry, he got caught flush with a huge right from the champ.

Volkanovski rocked Rodriguez and then put together one of the more beautiful finishing sequences I’ve seen in a while. He ripped to the body and then dumped him with a double leg. From there, he rained down ground and pound until Herb Dean pulled him off and declared him the undisputed UFC featherweight champ.

What’s next after UFC 290?

After the fight, Volkanovski stated he needed to get a quick surgery to clean things up in his arm, but it’s supposed to be a quick turnaround. Volkanovski is wanting to get back in there by October or November. Currently, there’s two paths he can go for his next fight.

Charles Oliveira recently stated that he might not be ready to fight Islam Makhachev at UFC 294 in Abu Dhabi. If Oliveira cannot fight and the promotion doesn’t give the fight to Justin Gaethje or Dustin Poirier, I think that the rematch with Alexander Volkanovski makes all the sense in the world.

If the UFC wants Volk to stay at 145 for his next fight, the writing is on the wall for a Ilia Topuria fight. The two men are already building to this fight and did a post-fight face-off outside the cage. So it’s pretty clear, it’ll be Makhachev or Topuria next for Alexander The Great.

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