The featherweight strap is on the line in Saturday night’s main event, as reigning champ Alexander Volkanovski faces the challenge of Ilia Topuria.
Volkanovski returns to the division he’s ruled since the close of 2019, looking to remain unbeaten in the UFC’s 145-pound weight class. He came up short in a pair of attempts to wrest the lightweight title away from Islam Makhachev last year, battling him to the wire in a Fight of the Year clash at UFC 290 in February before being felled on short notice in the fall at UFC 294, but he reminded everyone of his dominance in between by posting a third-round stoppage win over interim champ Yair Rodriguez.
The 27-year-old Topuria is undefeated in 14 fights and brimming with confidence. He pushed his record inside the Octagon to 6-0 in June with a unanimous decision win over Josh Emmett, and has shown on his way up the divisional ladder that he’s equally dangerous slinging hands or chasing subs.
Simply on the basis of their resumes, this is a fascinating fight — Volkanovski has been a dominant champion and turned back every challenge he’s faced, his wins getting more emphatic the longer he’s been on the throne, while Topuria fights with the self-belief and panache of someone that has never tasted defeat and therefore still believes he’s invincible.
But the contest took on greater weight and intrigue after Volkanovski’s loss to Makhachev at UFC 294, where he was stopped in the opening round and discussed struggling with focus and direction when he’s not locked into a fight camp. Mix in that he’s now 35 years old and you get a real “potential passing of the torch” feel from this one, which is why it’s such a compelling matchup to close out the show.
Other Main Card Fights
Robert Whittaker vs Paulo Costa
Former middleweight champ Robert Whittaker and ex-title challenger Paulo Costa will finally share the Octagon in Saturday’s penultimate pairing.