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Fight Tonight: UFC 298 Alexander Volkanovski vs. Ilia Topuria

BigArvin

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The UFC returns to Anaheim, California, this Saturday, February 17th, for UFC 298: Volkanovski vs. Topuria. This highly anticipated event promises an evening filled with thrilling fights, culminating in a championship clash between featherweight king Alexander Volkanovski and the rising star Ilia Topuria.

UFC 298 transcends being just another fight night. It's a platform for crowning a new champion, witnessing the rise of a potential superstar, and shaping the future of the featherweight division.



Event Overview​

UFC 298: Alexander Volkanovski vs. Ilia Topuria (Featherweight Championship)
Date: February 17th, 2024
Venue: Honda Center, Anaheim, California

The Honda Center is the primary home of the Anaheim Ducks, a two-time Stanley Cup champion ice hockey team. This shared space between hockey and MMA showcases the versatility of the venue and its ability to cater to diverse sporting events.

Since its opening in 1993, the Honda Center has hosted numerous iconic sporting events, including the NCAA Men's Ice Hockey Championship, NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament, and several WWE WrestleMania.

While primarily known for ice hockey, the Honda Center has increasingly become a popular destination for major UFC events. The octagon will be set amidst the echoes of past champions and legendary performances, creating a unique atmosphere for fighters and fans.

UFC 298


Detailed Fight Card Analysis​

In the highly anticipated main event, reigning featherweight champion Alexander Volkanovski (26-3) defends his title against the undefeated Georgian powerhouse Ilia Topuria (14-0). Volkanovski, known for his technical striking, seeks his fifth title defense. At the same time, Topuria, with his explosive punches and aggressive style, aims to dethrone the champion and claim his place at the top.

The undercard pits experience against rising talent in the light heavyweight division. Zhang Mingyang (16-6), a seasoned veteran with powerful striking, faces Brendson Ribeiro (15-5), a Brazilian jiu-jitsu specialist is known for his submission prowess.

Former middleweight champion Robert Whittaker (29-7) looks to bounce back from losing against the dangerous striker Paulo Costa (14-2) in a highly anticipated middleweight clash.

Two exciting welterweight prospects, Geoff Neal (15-5) with his knockout power and Ian Machado Garry (12-0) with his well-rounded skillset, collide in a potential fight-of-the-night contender.

A former bantamweight champion, Henry Cejudo (16-3), returns from retirement to face the undefeated wrestler Merab Dvalishvili (16-4) in a highly intriguing bantamweight matchup.

Two middleweight contenders, Anthony Hernandez (11-2-1) with his aggressive striking and Roman Kopylov (12-2) with his well-rounded skillset, battle for a crucial step up in the division.

Main Event Spotlight​

Alexander “The Great” Volkanovski​

Volkanovski is a master of pressure fighting. He utilizes a diverse striking arsenal, peppering his opponents with jabs, kicks, and powerful combinations. Volkanovski comes from a Muay Thai background, which instilled a strong foundation in striking technique and footwork. He trains at City Kickboxing in New Zealand, a renowned gym for developing well-rounded fighters.

The fighter boasts exceptional cardio, allowing him to maintain a high pace throughout the fight. His technical striking is precise and efficient, minimizing wasted movement and maximizing damage. Additionally, his wrestling is underrated, allowing him to control the fight on the ground if needed.

While possessing good knockout power, Volkanovski primarily relies on accumulating points rather than seeking spectacular finishes. His chin has been questioned in the past, as evidenced by his close call against Max Holloway.

Ilia “El Matador” Topuria​

Topuria is a ferocious striker with explosive power in his punches and kicks. He trains at PENTA Gym in Georgia, which is known for producing talented strikers. He has a strong wrestling background, which complements his striking arsenal.

Topuria's biggest asset is his raw power. He has a knack for finishing fights with devastating strikes, boasting a staggering 77% knockout rate. Additionally, he possesses a granite-like chin, as no one has ever knocked him out in his professional career.


However, his reliance on brawling can open him to counters and takedowns. His footwork can sometimes be erratic, and his overall fight IQ is still developing. He must be wary of getting caught in grappling exchanges and find ways to counter Volkanovski's pressure without getting reckless.

Predictions and Pre-Fight Analysis​

This showdown poses the most challenging test in Volkanovski's reign, with Topuria's potential to become a global superstar garnering widespread attention. Boasting an unblemished record of 14-0, Topuria showcases a complete skill set, marked by explosive victories over Josh Emmett, Bryce Mitchell, Jai Herbert, and Ryan Hall.

As the UFC's longest-reigning champion, Volkanovski approaches this bout as a slight favorite, though concerns about his age dominate pre-fight discussions. Despite his dominant performance against Yair Rodriguez, Volkanovski faces a different challenge in Topuria, whose precision in boxing and elite grappling sets him apart.

For John McCarthy, a veteran MMA referee, "This is the guy that if I was going to pick a style to beat Volkanovski, Topuria is the guy, and the reasons are this. First off, Topuria's boxing is excellent. It's spotless. You throw a jab, he's going to throw a hand over it. You throw a right hand. He's going to counter with a straight right hand down the pipe. His hook to the body is as good as anybody in MMA."

The Fighters and Their Journey​

The UFC industry has named Alexander Volkanovski as "The Great." This nickname embodies Volkanovski's dominant presence in the featherweight division. He has established himself as a champion known for his relentless pressure and strategic grappling. "The Great" reflects his fighting style and status as one of the best featherweights in the world.

Volkanovski's pursuit of peak performance extends beyond geographical boundaries. His affiliation with training centers in Phuket and Auckland emphasizes the global network he leverages for a comprehensive and world-class training experience.

People call Ilia Topuria "El Matador" because of his aggressive and fearless approach to fighting. Translated to "The Bullfighter," this nickname signifies Topuria's aggressive and calculated fighting style. He stalks his opponents, waiting for the perfect moment to strike with devastating power, much like a matador maneuvering a bull in the ring.

Hailing from a unique background as a Spanish-Georgian fighter, Volkanovski's preparation for battles is nothing short of exhaustive. This meticulous preparation didn't start in the bustling streets of Las Vegas. Instead, he began the rigorous training foundation at his base in Alicante.

Weigh-In Results and Fighter Condition​

Both fighters weighed in at 144.5 pounds, indicating they made weight comfortably. They are both in optimal physical condition and have managed their weight cuts effectively.

Volkanovski appeared focused and composed during the weigh-ins, showcasing his experience and calm demeanor in big fights. Topuria, on the other hand, displayed a more intense and aggressive persona, reflecting his fighting style and eagerness to prove himself on the biggest stage.

There have been no recent reports of injuries or medical concerns surrounding either fighter. It is positive news, as it suggests both Volkanovski and Topuria are healthy and ready to compete at their full potential.

Behind the Scenes​

The California State Athletic Commission (CSAC) is a regulatory body primarily overseeing UFC 298. It oversees fighter licensing, weigh-ins, anti-doping measures, and fight-night operations. CSAC officials ensure adherence to established rules and regulations, safeguarding the health and safety of fighters throughout the event.

The Unified Rules of Mixed Martial Arts (UMMA) governs all professional MMA fights, including those under the UFC banner. The UMMA outlines permissible strikes, grappling techniques, and referee interventions, creating a uniform framework for fair competition.

Significant brands like Venum (apparel), Crypto.com (official fight kit partner), and Bud Light (official beer partner) contribute financially to the organization, enabling them to host events, compensate fighters, and invest in athlete development programs. Black Rifle Coffee Company is also the official coffee of the UFC 298. The company will provide The Black Rifle Coffee Crowd Meter, which will measure the volume of the crowd in decibels.

Fight Night Implications​

A victory solidifies Alexander Volkanovski’s status as one of the greatest featherweight champions in UFC history. He could look for super fights against other champions or even venture into a lightweight title shot. Volkanovski's future matchups could include a matchup against lightweight champion Charles Oliveira, welterweight champion Kamaru Usman, or even a rematch against Max Holloway.

For Ilia Topuria, a win would catapult him into superstardom, making him an instant title contender and a potential future champion. However, a defeat could stall his momentum and require him to work his way back up the rankings through potentially challenging fights.

If victorious, Topuria could face the winner of the upcoming Calvin Kattar vs. Arnold Allen fight or even a rematch against Volkanovski if the champion desires. He could also have a match against top contenders like Josh Emmett or Edson Barboza.

Viewing Information​

A subscription to ESPN+ is required to watch the main card and select preliminary fights in the United States. UFC Fight Pass is a separate subscription service offering additional UFC content, including past fights and exclusive programming. The broadcast times will depend on local time zones.

Broadcast and streaming options for viewers outside the United States may vary depending on location. The main card is typically available on pay-per-view or streaming services.

Social Media and Public Opinion​

Fans have different views, some backing Volkanovski's experience and technical prowess, while others are enthralled by Topuria's raw power and aggressive fighting style. The potential for an upset is also a popular topic, with fans acknowledging the unpredictable nature of MMA and the possibility of either fighter causing a surprise.

#UFC298 is trending on various platforms, further amplifying the excitement for the event. Fans actively engage with each other, share their opinions, and participate in heated debates about the upcoming fights.

Frequently Asked Questions​

What time does the UFC fight card start tonight?

Tonight's UFC 298 fight card kicks off with the Early Prelims at 3:30 PM PST, followed by the Prelims at 5:00 PM PST. The highly anticipated Main Card featuring the biggest matchups begins at 7:00 PM PST.

What are the key matchups in tonight's UFC fight card?

The main event of the evening pits reigning featherweight champion Alexander Volkanovski against the undefeated challenger Ilia Topuria in a battle for the title. Other notable matchups on the card include Whittaker vs. Costa, Dvalishvili vs. Cejudo, Neal vs. Garry, and Hernandez vs. Kopylov.

Have there been any last-minute changes to the UFC fight card?

There have been no reported last-minute changes to the UFC 298 fight card, ensuring a night packed with thrilling matchups for fight fans to enjoy.
 
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