UFC 298: Topuria dethrones Volkanovski with emphatic KO victory

ANAHEIM, Calif. – Alexander Volkanovski played up his age this week, wearing clothes befitting a grandpa, old-man glasses and pretending to fall asleep at the prefight news conference.

Volkanovski is not actually old. He’s just 35. But, technically, that is an advanced age for a UFC featherweight champion. In fact, no male fighter at lightweight or below has ever won a title fight after turning 35 years old.

That has been the biggest storyline leading into Volkanovski’s title defense against Ilia Topuria in the main event of UFC 298 on Saturday night here at Honda Center. Topuria is just 27 years old and one of MMA’s most exciting young fighters. Can Volkanovski make history and prove himself the exception to the 35-year-old rule? Or will he pass the 145-pound torch to the well-rounded Topuria?

ESPN has Volkanovski ranked No. 3 in the world on its pound-for-pound list. At featherweight, ESPN has Volkanovski No. 1 and Topuria at No. 5.

Volkanovski (26-3) has five successful featherweight title defenses and six UFC featherweight title wins, the second most all-time. The Australian-born fighter is coming off a loss to UFC lightweight champion Islam Makhachev via knockout at UFC 294 in October. Volkanovski also lost to Makhachev in February 2023 via unanimous decision, before defending the featherweight belt over Yair Rodriguez at UFC 290 last July.

Topuria (14-0) has won his first six UFC fights, four by finish. The German-born fighter of Georgian descent lives and trains in Spain. Topuria is coming off a unanimous decision win over Josh Emmett last June.

In the co-main event at UFC 298, former UFC middleweight champion Robert Whittaker will face former title challenger Paulo Costa. ESPN has Whittaker ranked No. 3 in the world at middleweight.

Also on the card, former UFC bantamweight and flyweight champion Henry Cejudo will face up-and-coming Merab Dvalishvili, top welterweight prospect Ian Machado Garry meets Geoff Neal and Mackenzie Dern and Amanda Lemos face off in a women’s strawweight contender bout.

UFC 298 fight card

ESPN+ PPV, 10 p.m. ET
Men’s featherweight championship: Alexander Volkanovski (c) vs. Ilia Topuria
Middleweight: Robert Whittaker vs. Paulo Costa
Welterweight: Geoff Neal vs. Ian Machado Garry
Men’s bantamweight: Merab Dvalishvili vs. Henry Cejudo
Middleweight: Anthony Hernandez vs. Roman Kopylov
ESPN/ESPN+, 8 p.m.
Strawweight: Amanda Lemos vs. Mackenzie Dern
Heavyweight: Marcos Rogerio de Lima vs. Justin Tafa
Bantamweight: Rinya Nakamura vs. Carlos Vera
Light heavyweight: Zhang Mingyang vs. Brendson Ribeiro
ESPN+, 6:30 p.m.
Welterweight: Danny Barlow vs. Josh Quinlan
Welterweight: Oban Elliott vs. Val Woodburn
Women’s flyweight: Andrea Lee vs. Miranda Maverick
(c) = defending champion

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