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The Student News Site of University of Science and Arts of Oklahoma

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Topuria Earned a KO in UFC 298

As+UFC+298+plays+in+the+Lawson+Clubhouse+%28from+left%29+Gary+Jackson%2C+Riley+ODell%2C+Dae+Huff%2C+and+Ryan+Joseph+cheer+on+their+favored+fighters.+
Austin Jackson
As UFC 298 plays in the Lawson Clubhouse (from left) Gary Jackson, Riley O’Dell, Dae Huff, and Ryan Joseph cheer on their favored fighters.

The Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) held UFC 298 Saturday, Feb. 17 at the Honda Center located in Anaheim, California. This was the ninth time that a UFC event was held at the Honda Center and featured five fights on the main card.

The main card opened with Anthony Hernandez versus Roman Kopylov in a middleweight bout. Hernandez is the 15th ranked fighter in the middleweight division with a record of 11-2. Kopylov is trying to make a name for himself, and he has a professional MMA record of 12-3. This fight only lasted until the second round when Hernandez got Kopylov in a rear naked choke and secured the submission. Hernandez is now on a five-fight win streak and will almost certainly continue to climb up the rankings. 

The next fight was a bantamweight battle between two contenders as Merab Dvalishvili took on the former flyweight and bantamweight champion Henry Cejudo. This fight had a lot of fans looking forward to it as both fighters always put on a show when they stepped into the octagon. The fight went the distance lasting all three rounds, but Dvalishvili controlled the entire fight. He won by unanimous decision to extend his winning streak to ten. After this, he is anticipated to take on Sean O’Malley for the bantamweight title if O’Malley accepts the fight.  

After that fight, Ian Machado Garry took on Geoff Neal in their welterweight bout. Garry came into this fight with massive hype as he had an undefeated 13-0 record and is thought to be the future welterweight champion. Neal came off a submission loss to Shavkat Rakhmonov and looked to get back into the win column. In a controversial decision the judges scored the fight 30-27 in favor of Garry for a split decision win. Garry now has 14 wins and no losses and continues to look like a top contender in the welterweight division.  

The co-main event for the 298 card was a middleweight bout with third ranked Robert Whittaker versus sixth ranked Paulo Costa. This turned out to be a good fight between two great fighters with a heavy striking style. In the end, Whittaker came out with a unanimous decision win due to him having a better striking percentage with 54% of his strikes landing compared to Costa only landing 44%. Whittaker will almost certainly be a contender for the middleweight title.  

The stakes were high for the main event of UFC 298 as undefeated (14-0) Illia Topuria took on the reigning, undisputed featherweight champion (26-3) Alexander Volkanovski. Volkanovski has held the featherweight title since December 2019, making him the longest-reigning champion in the UFC. Topuria is the number one contender in the featherweight division as he has flown through every fighter thrown at him recording four knockouts/technical knockouts (KO/TKO) and eight submissions.  

The hype for this fight was through the roof as Topuria made sure the world knew he would be taking the belt from the man who held it for five years. He specifically in his Instagram bio that he is making a movie called “Road to the Belt” that would detail his road to winning the featherweight championship.  

Volkanovski was favored coming into the fight sitting at -120 odds and Topuria was +100. The fight started and looked to be a great battle as both fighters showcased what their skills were.  

The first round went to Volkanovski with all judges scoring it 10-9. This fight would not be up to the judges though because three minutes into the second round Topria landed a hard right hook and knocked out Volkanovski. This victory shot crowned Topria the new undisputed featherweight champion of the world. Topuria joins an elite group, becoming the fifth-ever fighter to be champion of the featherweight division. The four people who were previous champions were Jose Aldo, Conor McGregor, Max Holloway, and Volkanovski. After Topuria won he was interviewed in the octagon and immediately called out McGregor saying, 

“Conor McGregor, if you still have some balls, I will be waiting for you in Spain.” 

This response appeared as he was shutting down any potential rematch against  Volkanovski. This fight with McGregor is unlikely though as he doesn’t fight in the featherweight division anymore. His next possible matchup looks like it will be against Max Holloway or a rematch with Volkanovski as he still deserves a shot after holding the belt for so long.  

The next UFC event will take place in Miami, Florida Saturday, March 9 with O’Malley headlining as he looks to defend his bantamweight title and avenge his only loss against Marlon Chito Vera. 

 

Austin Jackson is a first-year history education major at the University of Science and Arts of Oklahoma. 

Ray Thomas-Lapham
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About the Contributor
Austin Jackson, Contributing Writer
Austin is a first-year history education major from Tuttle. He spends most of his time playing fantasy football.   Experience with The Trend: Contributing Writer: Sept. 2023 - present