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Sports

UFC Showdown – Volkanovski vs Topuria

The future hall-of-famer Alexander Volkanovski bids to defend his Lightweight Division title for a sixth successful title defence, but an undefeated Ilia Topuria will fancy himself to upset the apple cart.

Who’s going to take the spoils? We dig into the fight and what could happen. 

Where and When – Fight Details

The Volkanovski vs Topuria fight unfolds at the Honda Center in California on Saturday 17th February. 

Fighter Profiles

How do the two measure up? We dig into each of the fighters, how they measure up against one another, and the tactic each might pursue

Alexander Volkanovski Profile

  • Pound-For-Pound Ranking: 3
  • Featherweight Ranking: 1
  • Notable Fights: Trilogy with Islam Makhachev 
  • Titles: Men’s featherweight title
  • Age: 35
  • Height and Weight: 5ft 6in and 155 lb
  • Nationality: Australian

Ilia Topuria Profile

  • Featherweight Ranking: 3
  • Notable Fights: Josh Emmett (won by unanimous decision)
  • Titles: MFE Featherweight Championship 
  • Age: 27 
  • Height and Weight: 5 ft 8 in and 145 lb
  • Nationality: Spanish

Pre-fight Strategies

This could be a fascinating clash of styles – you have the striking and wrestling capabilities of Volkanovski against the Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu of Topuria. 

Volkanovski is known for his strong striking skills and impressive footwork. He also has excellent takedown defence and is able to control the pace of the fight. His fight history shows a tendency to push forward and pressure his opponents, using his superior speed and agility to wear them down.

Contrastingly,, Topura is known for his powerful grappling skills and submissions. He often looks for opportunities to take the fight to the ground where he can use his strength and technique to control his opponent. 

It’s a toss up – but Volkanovski’s experience should count for more.

Keys to the Fight

It could come down to experience – will Volkanovski’s know-how help him outfox the creme of the canvas in Topuria? Or will the latter’s takedown abilities make the difference?

The future hall-of-famer Volkanovski will be focused on putting a premium on distance – the further Topuria is kept at bay, the higher the cost he could pay, especially if any of his notoriously heavy-handed strikes hit the target. 

But rather than focus on the strengths of each fighter as an insight into the key elements of the contest, it might be more pertinent to concentrate on the weaknesses.

Volkanovski has shown vulnerability to leg kicks in the past, and while striking may not be Topuria’s strong point, it could be a window of opportunity to pry open the longer the fight progresses. 

However, a weakness of the Spanish fighter is his power – if he finds himself trying to trade off with Volkanovski, it could end badly. 

Anticipation of Fight Development

The way the fight unfolds will become clear pretty quickly, with both fighters likely to pick a tactic and stick to it throughout. 

There are two likely scenarios:

  1. This could be a grappling-heavy fight. Volkanovski has a background in wrestling and has displayed strong takedown defence in his fights. He may look to take Topuria down and utilise his ground-and-pound skills or attempt submissions. However, Topuria is no slouch on the ground either, with a black belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and multiple submission wins under his belt.
  2. An old-fashioned trade-off. It suits Volkanovski if he can keep Topuria on his feet. It might make for a tepid, point-scoring affair or a blockbusting, early finish/.

Past Encounters History

There is no doubt the two defeats to Islam Makhachev would have hurt Volkanovski – especially the first bout. 

Even though he lost via unanimous decision, many observers had him down as a winner and felt the decision to be harsh. At the time, he was hoping to join the likes of Conor McGregor, Amanda Nunes, Daniel Cormier and Henry Cejudo in becoming a simultaneous double UFC champion.

The rematch, which sandwiched an impressive victory over Yair Rodríguez in a title unification bout for the featherweight division, was a much more convincing loss. With just 10 days notice, Volkanovski stepped in to go again with Makhachev, after his original opponent Charles Oliveira pulled out injured. The lack of preparation told – he was dispatched in round one after a stinging head kick. 

Has his confidence been rocked? We could be about to find out. 

From Topuria’s perspective, he has a couple of convincing victories under his belt in recent times. He scored a victory over Josh Emmett in what was labelled the Fight of the Night in Jacksonville back in June 2023, while at UFC 282 in Las Vegas, he came out on top against Bryce Mitchell with a display that was credited as the Performance Of The Night. 

He should be full of confidence. 

Expert Commentary

Michael Bisping believes Topuria would do well to be humble and respectful of Volkanovski,despite his recent defeat. 

He told TNT Sports: “Volkanovski, we all know about the resume of this guy.We know he’s coming back from the knockout against Islam Makhachev. I don’t think it’s too soon [after recovering from concussion], four months is plenty of time.

“He thought he could roll the dice and be great [against Makhachev], but it didn’t work out. Because of that, you cannot underestimate the resume of this man. I think Topuria is maybe underestimating what he has on his hands here, but it all mounts up to be a fantastic fight.”

How to Watch the Fight – Date and Broadcast Details

It will be available to watch for viewers of ESPN+ in the USA and TNT Sports in the United Kingdom.

Conclusion – Final Reflections

It’s a close call between a legend of the sport and a relatively new, but extremely exciting, kid on the block. 

In a contest such as this, it may pay to stick with experience – perhaps Volkanovski can overwhelm Topuria on their feet and claim a victory on the cards. 

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