Alexander Volkanovski gave no ground to Yair Rodriguez, beating him up for the entirety of their featherweight title fight.
Volkanovski returned to featherweight after losing a contested bout to lightweight champion Islam Makhachev last February. Rodriguez, who claimed the interim title with a win over Josh Emmett on the same UFC 284 card, was no match for the champion.
In the first round, Volkanovski managed to ground the unorthodox Rodriguez and frequently kept him out of position to land his devastating strikes. After working Rodriguez over and leaving him bloodied over the next three rounds, a stoppage seemed inevitable.
Suddenly, Rodriguez showed signs of life with a head kick and a follow-up combination that failed to deter the champion. Soon after, Volkanovski landed a vicious right hook that wobbled Rodriguez, resulting in the takedown and ground-and-pound finish in the fourth round.
Volkanovski renewed his claim of being the best featherweight in the world. It was the sixth defense of his title won from Max Holloway at UFC 245. Though Volkanovski successfully defended his title in the main event of UFC 290, talks quickly progressed to a potential rematch with Makhachev.
With Makhachev rumored to be main eventing UFC 294 in Abu Dhabi, Volkanovski announced he’d be willing to face him again. If Makhachev opts to face someone else, it’s likely Volkanovski will face Ilia Toprua as he inches closer to matching Jose Aldo’s record eight title defenses in the division.
With the win, Volkanovski moves to 26-2 and retains his featherweight title.
Rodriguez drops to 15-4 in defeat.
UFC 290 full results
Alexander Volkanovski defeats Yair Rodriguez by TKO (strikes) at 4:19 of Round 3
Dan Hooker (29-28, 29-28) defeats Jalin Turner (29-28) by split decision
Bo Nickal defeats Val Woodburn by KO (strikes) at 0:38 of Round 1
Robbie Lawler defeats Niko Price by knockout (punches) at 0:38 of Round 1
Tatsuro Taira (29-27, 29-27, 29-27) defeats Edgar Chairez by unanimous decision
Denise Gomes defeats Yazmin Jauregui by TKO, Round 1, :20
Alonzo Menifield defeats Jimmy Crute by Submission, Guillotine Choke, Round 2, 1:55
Vitor Petrino defeats Marcin Prachnio by Submission, Head & Arm Choke, Round 3, 3:42
Cameron Saaiman defeats Terrence Mitchell by TKO, Round 1, 3:10
Jesus Aguilar defeats Shannon Ross by Knockout (right hand) at 0:17 of Round 1
Esteban Ribovics (29-28, 29-28, 29-28) defeats Kamuela Kirk by unanimous decision