Islam Makhachev scores devastating head-kick knockout to finish Alexander Volkanovski in UFC 294 main event


Islam Makhachev settled whatever debate remained from his first win over Alexander Volkanovski with an emphatic first-round finish in the UFC 294 main event.

It was arguably one of his most impressive performances to date as Makhachev set up his knockout in stunning fashion after he immediately began chopping away at Volkanovski with kicks in the opening round. After missing on a takedown, Makhachev reset and launched a head kick out of nowhere that bounced off Volkanovski’s head and sent the UFC featherweight champion crashing to the canvas.

Makhachev followed him to the ground for a few more punches but it didn’t take long for referee Marc Goddard to realize the fight was already over. The stoppage came at just 3:06 in the first round.

“Honestly, I have a great team,” Makhachev said paying credit to his coaches after his latest win. “We always did this in the locker room, always in the training, they push me very hard. That’s why this happened today. I showed him first of all a couple low kicks and body kicks and I just changed to a high kick. This is what we were planning for the last couple of months for [Charles] Oliveira and nothing changed, same for Volkanovski.

“I want to say thank you to this guy, he’s a real champion. He never gives up. He’s a real champion, thank you Alex, again.”

As dominant as Makhachev has been during his run as both challenger and champion, he ultimately needed less than four minutes to vanquish another top pound-for-pound fighter in Volkanovski after they engaged in a five-round classic back in February.

The rematch played out much differently with Makhachev setting up his kicks in the opening round after going to the legs and the body just as he described, which helped him set up the kill shot to the head.

Prior to the finish, Makhachev first showcased his wrestling while dropping down to grab at the legs but Volkanovski defended effectively before resetting in the center of the cage. Getting Volkanovski to think about another takedown combined with the earlier kicks set up the perfect opening for the finish.

As soon as he had Volkanovski reacting off his back foot, Makhachev launched the head kick that connected flush and sent the Australian flying backwards. The end came just seconds later.

Following the conclusion of the fight, Volkanovski was sporting a gruesome pair of cuts over his eyes from the damage inflicted by Makhachev. While it certainly wasn’t the result he wanted, Volkanovski had no complaints while giving Makhachev credit on a job well done.

“Great set up, good kick,” Volkanovski said. “I don’t like losing, it hurts me but he’s a great champion. Credit to Islam, great kick. Please keep me busy, I don’t do well when I’m sitting at home.”

The win further cements Makhachev as the best lightweight in the world and he has plenty of options for what comes next with both Charles Oliveira and Justin Gaethje waiting in the wings.

“I never choose,” Makhachev said about potential opposition. “Dana [White], you have some job, give me someone.”


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