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Ilia Topuria knocks out Alexander Volkanovski to win UFC title, calls out Conor McGregor


Ilia Topuria knocks out Alexander Volkanovski to win UFC title, calls out Conor McGregor

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It was Ilia Topuria’s night on Saturday at UFC 298.

Going up against reigning featherweight champion Alexander Volkanovski, Topuria was looking to claim his first UFC championship and remain undefeated. The Georgian-Spanish MMA star took Volkanovski to the second round of the night and caught him with a hook onto his chin.

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Ilia Topuria with his belt

Ilia Topuria with the belt after his knockout victory against Alexander Volkanovski in the UFC featherweight championship fight during UFC 298 at Honda Center on Feb. 17, 2024, in Anaheim, California. (Chris Unger/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images)

Volkanovski went down and Topuria put the finishing touches on him. The 28-year-old was left holding the UFC Featherweight Championship for the first time in his career and moved to 15-0 in his professional career. He’s 7-0 since he joined the UFC in 2020.

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“I feel so happy right now,” he said after the bout. “They’re going to tell you you can’t do it. They’re going to knock you down and doubt you. But guess what? The only person you need to have your back in this life is yourself. Just trust yourself, work tirelessly, have faith and everything is possible. Look at me now.”

Volkanovski won the featherweight title in 2019 against Max Holloway. He defended it against Holloway in July 2020 and July 2022. He also defended the title against Brian Ortega and Jung Chan-sung. During his reign, he was also the lightweight champion but lost that belt against Islam Makhachev in October 2023.

He appealed to Topuria for a rematch, but the new champion didn’t think it was time for that just yet.

Ilia Topuria celebrates

Ilia Topuria celebrates after knocking out Alexander Volanovski at UFC 298, Saturday, Feb. 17, 2024, in Anaheim. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)

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Topuria called out Conor McGregor in the Octagon during his post-fight speech.

“And Conor McGregor, if you still have some balls, I will be waiting for you in Spain,” he said.

McGregor is working his way back to the UFC after not being in the Octagon since he broke his leg against Dustin Poirier in 2021. It’s unclear when his next fight will be though rumors have sprouted about a bout against Michael Chandler in the near future.

Alexander Volanovski kicks Topuria

Alexander Volanovski, right, connects with Ilia Topuria during their featherweight bout at UFC 298, Feb. 17, 2024, in Anaheim. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)

UFC president Dana White hoped to make the promotion’s debut in Spain with Topuria’s next fight. He said he was delighted by Topuria’s confidence in declaring himself a champion even before he won a UFC title.

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“He definitely believes in himself,” he said. “That’s definitely putting yourself out there. You could call that a lot of things. Manifesting. Cocky. He came out and made it a reality tonight.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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