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UFC 298 | Nick Peet

WHILST we may not be getting Tyson Fury vs Oleksandr Usyk this weekend as originally scheduled, the UFC is delivering in spades on Saturday night with a stacked card from Anaheim, California.

UFC 298 features a wealth of former champions, breakthrough challengers and trash-talking, foe-smoking, main event gunslingers.

After an unsuccessful tilt at two-weight greatness in 2023, Alexander Volkanovski returns to his 145lb weight class to take on the latest formidable featherweight, Ilia Topuria, in the headliner.


The Georgian, who fights out of Costa Blanca in Spain, is really exciting to watch with lethal finishing skills and a penchant for the spectacular – all presented with an air of confidence that would make Conor McGregor blush.

Topuria, 27, is unbeaten in 14 fights with 12 finishes. Nine of his early nights arrived in the first round too. And, the two men who got to the judge’s scorecards, both had backstories attached.

Ilia stepped in at just 10 days notice during a global pandemic to face Youssef Zalal behind closed doors when making his UFC debut in Abu Dhabi in 2020.


And, last time out, he went to war for five rounds with the division’s established tough guy, Josh Emmett, to lock in this weekend’s title opportunity. Typical Topuria.

He doesn’t just win. He likes to break men at their own game. Outfighting the fighters, submitting the jiu-jitsu players and knocking out strikers. It’s what he does.

But the Spaniard will have to raise his game to levels not previously required if he is to dethrone the champion.

Volkanoski may have fallen short up at 155lb last year, but at featherweight he’s still absolutely the main man.


The 35-year-old has a 26-3 record that doesn’t feature any blemishes at 145lb, including 13 wins inside the Octagon.

This will be Volk’s ninth consecutive UFC title fight, a run that includes a hat-trick of wins over former divisional top dog Max Holloway, along with four former #1 contenders.

This time last year the Aussie was the established world #1 pound-for-pound in the sport. Indeed, it was only the second loss to Islam Makhachev in October that saw the power switch.


But that first round TKO, when Volk stepped in at a few weeks notice to replace Charles Oliveira, followed another hugely successful title defence.

Yair Rodriguez fought his way to the front of the queue to meet the champion last summer and was beaten and disposed of inside three rounds in an almost faultless display.

Any thoughts of Volk being done or past it have to be wide of the mark.




Volkanoski is now into his fifth year as the planet’s leading 145lb mixed martial artist, taking the belt from Max almost a year before Topuria even made his promotional debut.

But nostalgia and histrionics or a failed currency in fight sports. Time waits for no man, even great ones.

Topuria’s strengths are in his boxing and his grappling. He’s aggressive with both, and loads up combination strikes as fluidly as he does neck attacks.

He is a legit BJJ black belt and incredible strong in the clinch and off his back.

Volk’s advantage is his power, his accuracy and his workrate. He’s been knocking opponents out since his days as a welterweight and is much more of a kickboxer, utilising the art of eight limbs.

He’s also never lost via submission, even surviving what a appeared to be a sleep-induced choke from Brian Ortega back in 2021.

Ilia will have his time as UFC champion. But that time isn’t here just yet.


Forget Fury vs Usyk, UFC 298 is where it’s at, with a stacked card that has everyone ‘Californian Dreaming’. An incredible main event features two gunslingers ready for war! My tip?

ufc 298

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