Alexander Volkanovski continued his dominance in the featherweight division with another successful title defense.
*UFC Featherweight Championship: Alexander Volkanovski © over Yair Rodriguez (ic) by TKO in 4:19 of Round 3
*UFC Flyweight Championship: Alexandre Pantoja over Brandon Moreno © by split decision (48-47, 46-49, 48-47)
*Dricus du Plessis def. Robert Whittaker by TKO at 2:23 of Round 2
*Dan Hooker def. Jalin Turner by split decision (29-28, 28-29, 29-28)
*Bo Nickal def. Valentine Woodburn by TKO at 0:38 of Round 1
*Robbie Lawler def. Niko Price by KO at 0:38 of Round 1
*Tasuro Taira def. Edgar Chairez by unanimous decision (29-27 all)
*Denise Gomes def. Yazmin Jauregui by TKO at 0:20 of Round 1
*Alonzo Menifield def. Jimmy Crute by guillotine choke at 1:55 of Round 2
*Vitor Petrino def. Marcin Prachnio by arm-triangle choke at 3:42 of Round 3
*Cameron Saaiman def. Terrence Mitchell by TKO at 3:10 of Round 1
*Jesus Santos Aguilar def. Shannon Ross by KO in 0:17 of Round 1
*Esteban Ribovics def. Kamuela Kirk by unanimous decision (29-28 all)
Volkanovski’s stoppage of Yair Rodriguez in the third round capped off a tremendous UFC 290 card as part of the promotion’s annual International Fight Week with an announced attendance of 19,204 at the T-Mobile Arena and a live gate of $9.75 million.
It was the fifth title defense for Volkanovski, who returned to the weight class after suffering his first loss in ten years when he challenged lightweight champion Islam Mackhachev earlier this year.
After securing the first two rounds, Volkanovski collided heads with Rodriguez in the middle of round three. It came as the challenger was mounting his best offense of the fight. As Rodriguez tried to build momentum, it was shut down with a right hand and uppercut before Volkanovski took his opponent to ground and ended the fight with ground and pound.
Post-match, the champion stated he needed surgery on his arm, although still has plans to fight one more time in 2023 with an eye toward surging star Ilia Topuria.
— UFC (@ufc) July 9, 2023
In the co-feature, Alexandre Pantoja backed up the notion that he has the number of Brandon Moreno as he beat the champion for the third time.
This time it was the most important victory as the ‘W’ was accompanied by the flyweight championship as the 33-year-old was flanked by his children inside the octagon after the win.
The two produced a strong contender for ‘Fight of the Year’ over five rounds, which most scored for Pantoja convincingly. One judge did not, as Ben Cartlidge scored the fight 49-46 for Moreno and only gave the first round to Pantoja. Judges Derek Cleary and Junichiro Kamijo had it 48-47 for Pantoja with both scorings Rounds 1, 3, and 5 for the new champion.
— UFC (@ufc) July 9, 2023
Dricus du Plessis secured his spot as the next challenger for the UFC Middleweight Championship by stopping Robert Whittaker in the second round.
Du Plessis won the first round and stunned the former champion with a straight right hand in the second round and placed Whittaker on his knee. Du Plessis detected the end was near as he swarmed Whittaker landing a key body shot and forcing Whittaker to cover to the onslaught of follow-up shots and forcing Marc Goddard to halt the fight.
Afterward, champion Israel Adesanya entered the cage and unleashed multiple instances of the ‘n-word’ at du Plessis and led to an uncomfortable scene on the pay-per-view.
The win was the eighth in a row for du Plessis, who is now 6-0 since entering the UFC.
— UFC (@ufc) July 9, 2023
Dan Hooker was an exciting fight against Jalin Turner over three and was the second-best fight of the night behind the flyweights.
Turner missed weight at 158 pounds for the lightweight contest which may have played a factor in his stamina during the second half of the fight.
Turner won the first round and landed a brutal head kick on Hooker in the second round. However, Hooker stole the second round with a combination that stunned Turner and locked in a rear-naked choke that was deep when the horn sounded to end the round. In the third, both were tired, and it was later revealed Hooker was operating with a broken wrist. Hooker spent most of the round on top and landed the superior strikes in the position and earned the unanimous decision win with 29-28 cards from the three judges.
The pay-per-view opened with former NCAA champion Bo Nickal continuing his run of fast and dominant victories. Faced with an opponent change this past week, Nickal only needed 38 seconds to stop Val Woodburn.
Nickal absorbed a strike from Woodburn before landing on Woodburn to stun the underdog and followed with an uppercut for the quick win. Nickal moves to 5-0 as a pro with huge expectations placed on the 27-year-old.
UFC 290 also featured Robbie Lawler’s retirement fight after fighting for twenty-two years. It was one of the rare ‘feel good’ retirements as Lawler stopped Niko Price in 38 seconds of their welterweight contest to headline the preliminary portion of the card. Lawler clinched with Price and finished him with a pair of uppercuts as he dropped Price to the canvas.
After, Lawler was visibly emotional as they played an excellent video tribute on his career and gave him a great send-off.
Pantoja and Moreno earned the ‘Fight of the Night’ honors while Dricus du Plessis and Denise Gomes were given the ‘Performance of the Night’ bonuses.
Gomes was a sizable underdog against Yazmin Jauregui and stopped the favorite in 20 seconds after cracking her with a right hand and following up with strikes against the cage for a quick victory in their strawweight fight.
The UFC is back next weekend with a Fight Night event at the Apex in Las Vegas headlined by Holly Holm fighting Mayra Bueno Silva. Its next pay-per-view is on July 29 with Dustin Poirier and Justin Gaethje competing for the BMF Championship in Salt Lake City, Utah.