Ilia Topuria knocks Alexander Volkanovski out cold at UFC 298 to usher in new era at featherweight

Ilia Topuria dethroned featherweight great Alexander Volkanovski at UFC 298 on Saturday, knocking the Australian out cold in round two.

Volkanovski’s reign at 145lbs has been a storied one, and the 35-year-old was seeking a sixth straight successful title defence as he fought Topuria in Anaheim.

The champion started well, but Topuria’s knockout threat was a key narrative in the build-up to this main event, and the Georgian-Spaniard delivered on that threat.

Midway through the second round, Topuria, 27, landed a picture-perfect fight hook with Volkanovski against the cage, and the Australian collapsed to the canvas at once.

With that, Volkanovski’s four-year title reign came to an end, as Topuria became the first UFC champion to represent Georgia or Spain.

“I feel so happy right now,” the unbeaten Topuria said in the Octagon. “They’re gonna tell you that you can’t do it, but guess what? Trust yourself, work tirelessly, have faith, and everything is possible.

“Look at me, look at me now. I just know my skills. I worked so hard for this. I was knowing always that one day I would become a UFC champion. Guys, it doesn’t matter where you come from if you know where you’re going.

Topuria knocked Volkanovski out cold against the fence (Getty Images)
Topuria knocked Volkanovski out cold against the fence (Getty Images)

“It’s time to take the UFC to Spain.”

Volkanovski said: “Obviously he has some power in his hands. Well done to him, he caught me. I was gonna start working everything, and he got me, so credit to him. He’s a hard hitter, we knew that going in. He wasn’t meant to land like that, but he did.

“He keeps mentioning Spain, maybe we do a rematch there.”

Topuria reacts to his title win (Getty Images)
Topuria reacts to his title win (Getty Images)

Volkanovski’s previous outing was a short-notice title shot against lightweight king Islam Makhachev in October. Volkanovski was knocked out with a head kick in round one, eight months after losing a narrow decision against the Russian.

Between those bouts, the 35-year-old stopped Yair Rodriguez in July to retain the featherweight belt.