Coming in hot after a pair of back-to-back finishes, former Featherweight champion and current No. 1-ranked 145-pound contender, Jose Aldo, looked to staunch the rise of No. 4-ranked challenger Alexander Volkanovski tonight (Sat., May 11, 2019) at UFC 237, which took place inside Jeunesse Arena in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Meanwhile, Volkanovski — himself on a 16-fight tear (six victories inside the Octagon) — was eager to use the Brazilian legend as a stepping stone, one that would catapult him into a future title fight against division champion, Max Holloway.
Both fighters came out and touched gloves, with Aldo stalking Volkanovski around the Octagon as his hometown crowd roared in support. Volkanovski was able to keep Aldo at bay early with feints and low kicks until about the mid-way point of the round, which is when Aldo landed a solid body shot. Volkanovski continued to strafe Aldo’s lead leg with low kicks, turning it a dark shade of red early. Aldo missed with a spinning backfist, which triggered a clinch along the cage. Aldo looked to mash him with a huge punch on the break, but Volkanovski ducked under it. Volkanovski landed a hard overhand left at the bell, more than likely earning him the round on the judges scorecards — he was far and away the busier fighter the first five minutes.
Volkanovski continued his assault on Aldo’s lead leg in the second round, using the constant kicks to set up solid strikes upstairs. Aldo was able to land a stiff jab 90 seconds into the second stanza, his best shot of the fight. Volkanovski responded moments later with a jab of his own, bouncing it off Aldo’s forehead and sending him backward. The action was stopped midway through the round after Volkanovski inadvertently poked Aldo in the eye. Aldo was quickly cleared by the doctor to return to the match, only for Volkanovski to pin him up against the fence and drill his legs with knees. Aldo was able to spin out briefly, but Volkanovski pinned him right back in the corner and went back to work. Volkanovski backed off and the pair returned to the center of the cage, exchanging punches as the round came to a close.
Aldo — likely down on the judges scorecards — needed a big third round to pull out a come-from-behind win. Volkanovski, though, came out guns blazing, drilling Aldo with several hard crosses and then once again pinning him up against the fence. Once again, Volkanovski was the much busier and effective fighter. It appeared that Aldo was looking for that one-shot knockout, but it never came. He simply couldn’t pull the trigger, allowing Volkanovski to outwork and out-hustle him en route to a very clinical unanimous decision win.
It wasn’t an epic performance from Volkanovski by any standard, but he did what he had to do and stymied perhaps the best UFC Featherweight fighter of all time ... in his own backyard. In doing so, he sets himself up nice for a future title fight against the aforementioned Holloway, or at the very least, a No. 1 contender eliminator match opposite Frankie Edgar.
For complete UFC 237: “Namajunas vs. Andrade” results, including play-by-play updates, click here.