Last night (Sat., April 9, 2022), Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) ventured to Vystar Veterans Memorial Arena in Jacksonville, Florida for UFC 273. This pay-per-view event was headlined by a pair of title fights, putting the Featherweight and Bantamweight straps up for grabs in quality match ups Alexander Volkanovski vs. Chan Sung Jung and Aljamain Sterling vs. Petr Yan. The other primary attraction of the night was the return of Khamzat Chimaev, who aimed to continue his undefeated rise towards Welterweight gold vs. the highly dangerous Gilbert Burns.
All in all, there were fun and important fights throughout the evening, so let’s take a look at the best performances and techniques:
Volkanovski Styles On “Korean Zombie”
Alexander Volkanovski entered last night’s main event as the No. 2-ranked pound-for-pound fighter on the planet, and he made a really damn good case that he’s underrated.
As it turns out, the best way to look incredible is to fight anyone other than Max Holloway, the only man who’s been remotely able to keep up with Volkanovski. Since fighting opposition aside from the Hawaiian, Volkanovski has returned to his previous status of incredibly dominant.
Jung wasn’t in the fight for a single second last night. Volkanovski was immediately ahead of him, moving well and sticking jabs. Any time Jung tried to increase his aggression and force the fight, the Australian would nail him with a punishing right hand. Those power shots added up quickly, and the damage on Jung’s face built inside a couple rounds.
Jung was looking painfully close to a zombie when Volkanovski basically knocked him out near the end of the third. He probably shouldn’t have been sent back out in the fourth, and there was to be no miracle: Volkanovski immediately resumed dropping sledgehammers on his jawline.
“The Great” is a special champion, and it’s high time fight fans start accepting this fact.
Aljamain Sterling Calms Down
As it turns out, fighting frantically is rarely a good idea.
Sterling used a lot of the same tactics as he did in the first fight. The body kicks, frequent takedowns into strikes, attacking Yan’s march forward with intercepting blows — those were great ideas then and now. However, he tried to use all of them at once at a rapid rate, exhausting himself and wasting his efforts in the process.
This time, Sterling was smart. He allowed the first five minutes to pass largely on the feet, keeping up with Yan on the strength of his range and trickery. He still used a lot of energy, but he did so in a far more controlled manner. His dedication and patience allowed the second round shot to really surprise Yan, resulting in an extended period of back control. Buoyed by that success, Sterling did it again in the third.
Afterward, the momentum shifted. Yan made the correct adjustments in focusing on jamming Sterling beneath him rather than turning away, and he started taking top position as a result. Of course, it also definitely helped that Sterling was starting to fatigue. Either way, we had a case of four clear rounds, and the title hinged on the highly competitive opening frame.
Yan’s quality came up short to Sterling’s volume, and thus a champion was decided. Agree with the decision or not, Sterling deserves major props for improving his performance to such a degree.
Khamzat won an incredible fight in great style, and we learned a whole lot about the Chechen prospect in the process. His performance deserved a more detailed take, which can be read right HERE!
Dern Gets Weird ... And Wins
Man, Mackenzie Dern’s stand up looked AWFUL in the first round. She literally opened the fight by running into four straight overhands. As a result of those connections, however, she learned that Tecia Torres really couldn’t hurt her at all with strikes, enabling further aggression.
The second round, fortunately, served as a reminder as to why Dern fights are worth-watching. She jumped guard and attacked a standing kimura — something I’ve never seen before — and then spent several minutes transitioning into different offense. It was very slick, even if it didn’t end the fight.
There’s still plenty of room for improvement, but that jiu-jitsu skill gives her a shot vs. literally anyone at 115 pounds.
The Madsen Experiment
Mark Madsen improved to 12-0 last night, winning his fourth straight fight inside the Octagon. The man has an Olympic silver medal in Greco-Roman wrestling, and he trains with some of the best camps on the planet. On paper, everything lines up for his two-years-to-the-title goal.
I have to admit, however, that I just don’t see it. Each of Madsen’s last three wins have been painfully close. Austin Hubbard broke his jaw, Clay Guida nearly won a split decision, and now Vinc Pichel boxed him up pretty severely in the second round. Credit to Madsen for overcoming adversity, but it still seems like his kickboxing is a severe liability in such a talent-rich division.
Madsen keeps winning, and so he keeps climbing, but I predict a brutal ceiling to be met sooner than later.
Oleinik The Trickster
Aleksei Oleinik had no real way to take down Jared Vanderaa, and he was the worse striker of the two men. How, then, did the 44-year-old veteran force his unique submission skills into play?
He set a trap.
Oleinik pulled guard and clung to a single leg desperately, trying to dive underneath into deep half guard. Vanderaa tried to pull away, but when Oleinik held on like his “Boa Constrictor” moniker, Vanderaa opted — understandably — to take mount and start reigning down punches. Unbothered, Oleinik gave up his back, elevated a leg, and then spun into top position.
With the tables turned, Oleinik was in complete control. He quickly started attacking the neck, going from a rear naked choke threat to arm triangle to sitting out into the scarf hold position. That’s a submission from a bygone era, but then, Oleinik started his professional career in 1997.
It worked, and the Russian is back in the win column with victory No. 60. Incredible!
- Mike Malott defeats Mickey Gall via first-round knockout: It’s hard to envision a better UFC debut. Against a fairly well-known and established name, Malott started strong, showing off his kickboxing chops and stunning Gall several times in early exchanges. When Gall kept advancing, Malott stood his ground and leveled him with a perfect left hook, sending Gall to the canvas face-first. Afterward, he shouted out a charitable cause and promised to donate a significant portion of his fight purse — “Proper” indeed!
For complete UFC 273: “Volkanovski vs. Korean Zombie” results and play-by-play, click HERE!