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  • Tarrian Rodgers

UFC crowns new featherweight champion in stunning fashion

The Volk era is officially over as former UFC featherweight champion Alexander Volkanowski (26-4) was dethroned at the hands of Illia Topuria (16-0) last night in Anaheim at UFC 298. The win came in stunning knockout fashion in the second round.

Volkanovski  had five successful featherweight title defenses and six UFC featherweight title wins, the second most of all time. The Australian-born fighter was coming off a loss to UFC lightweight champion Islam Makhachev via knockout at UFC 294 in October. Volkanovski also fell to Makhachev in a lightweight title fight in February 2023 via unanimous decision, before defending the featherweight belt over Yair Rodriguez at UFC 290 in July. This was Volkanovski's first loss at featherweight in the UFC.

As for the new champion Topuria he has manifested this moment from day 1 in fact after his unanimous decision win in June vs Josh Emmett he changed his Instagram handle to UFC’s featherweight champion changing his then 14-0 record to 15-0. Topuria even predicted all fight week he would knock Volkanowski out in the second round. 

"Guess what? The only person that has your back in this life is yourself," Topuria said in his post-fight interview. "Just trust yourself ... and everything is possible. Look at me now. Look." 

Topuria made history with this win, becoming the first-person representing Georgia to win a UFC championship. Topuria was born in Germany to parents of Georgian descent. His family moved back to the Republic of Georgia when he was young then later to Alicante, Spain. Topuria lives and trains in Spain. 

UFC CEO Dana White noted that Topuria has opened up a new market for the UFC in Spain and said the promotion will attempt to go there for his first title defense. "I want to go to Spain, too," White said. "We're going to Spain. If there's a venue available there for us, we'll go there." The new champion called out Conor McGregor for the first show in Spain.

“Conor McGregor, if you still have some balls, I will be waiting for you in Spain," he said. However, Volkanowski had different plans as he asked for an immediate rematch in Spain during his post-fight interview. He had been the featherweight champion since December 2019, the longest-reigning title holder in the UFC. "Obviously, I've been the champion for a long time, and I want that rematch," Volkanovski said. "That's something that needs to happen."

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