MMA Junkie’s Fight of the Month for February: A champion-vs.-champion fight delivers
With another action-packed month of MMA in the books, MMA Junkie looks at the best fights from February 2023: Here are the five nominees, listed in chronological order, and winner of MMA Junkie’s Fight of the Month award for February.
At the bottom of the post, let us know if we got it right by voting on your choice.
Nominee: Brennan Ward def. Sabah Homasi at Bellator 290
Advertised as one of the most violent fights in company history, [autotag]Brennan Ward[/autotag] (17-6 MMA, 12-6 BMMA) and Sabah Homasi delivered (17-11 MMA, 6-5 BMMA) in their welterweight bout.
In the first Bellator fight to air on CBS, Ward defeated Homasi with a head kick and punches in the second round after a gunslinging battle. Both men were hungry for the finish from the opening bell, but it was Ward who landed the cleanest shot first and secured the finish.
🔥 The 𝗜𝗡𝗖𝗥𝗘𝗗𝗜𝗕𝗟𝗘 career resurgence of @SwaggleBerryFin continues! What a stoppage LIVE on @CBS 👏
📺 #Bellator290 | 𝑪𝑩𝑺 & 𝑷𝒂𝒓𝒂𝒎𝒐𝒖𝒏𝒕+ | LIVE NOW pic.twitter.com/qWo4HAbqic
— Bellator MMA (@BellatorMMA) February 5, 2023
Nominee: Jimmy Crute vs. Alonzo Menifield at UFC 284
[autotag]Jimmy Crute[/autotag] (12-3-1 MMA, 4-3-1 UFC) and [autotag]Alonzo Menifield[/autotag] (13-3-1 MMA, 6-3-1 UFC) produced the light heavyweight banger everyone anticipated from them, but neither man got their hand raised at the end of it.
After a back-and-forth contest on both the feet and the ground, a point deduction to Menifield in the third round ultimately cost him. Crute managed to win the final round after losing the first two, creating a majority draw on the scorecards to end an electric contest.
Nominee: Yair Rodriguez def. Josh Emmett at UFC 284
[autotag]Yair Rodriguez[/autotag] (15-3 MMA, 10-2 UFC) has a piece of gold now in his possession after claiming the UFC interim featherweight belt against Josh Emmett (18-3 MMA, 9-3 UFC).
With champ Alexander Volkanovski taking a stop at lightweight, Rodriguez took advantage of the situation. He lite up Emmett on the feet before locking up a fight-ending triangle choke on the mat, giving Rodriguez the first submission win of his octagon tenure on the biggest of stages.
YAIR RODRIGUEZ BY SUBMISSION!
HE IS THE INTERIM FEATHERWEIGHT CHAMPION 🏆 #UFC284 pic.twitter.com/4Uwqgvj4Dc
— UFC (@ufc) February 12, 2023
Nominee: Islam Makhachev def. Alexander Volkanovski at UFC 284
[autotag]Islam Makhachev[/autotag] (25-1 MMA, 14-1 UFC) kicked of his lightweight title reign with arguably the biggest win of his career at when he shut down fellow champ Alexander Volkanovski’s (25-3 MMA, 12-2 UFC) bid at dual-champ status.
Makhachev logged his first 155-pound title defense when he handed featherweight champ Volkanovski a unanimous decision loss in an absolutely incredible, back-and-forth bout. It’s was everything viewers could’ve wanted and more, with Makhachev and Volkanovski testing each other on the feet and the ground in front of a raucous Australian crowd. Only one man could get his hand raised, though, and it was Makhachev in the end.
Nominee: Nazim Sadykhov def. Evan Elder at UFC Fight Night 219
A lightweight bout between a newcomer and a one-fight UFC veteran left a lasting impression when [autotag]Nazim Sadykhov[/autotag] (8-1 MMA, 1-0 UFC) took on [autotag]Evan Elder[/autotag] (7-2 MMA, 0-2 UFC) in a bout that was an all-action striking affair.
Both fighters landed hard punches in exchanges as they tussled around every inch of the octagon. The bout came to an unfortunate ending early in the third after a nasty cut was opened above Elder’s right eye. Sadykhov walked away with the TKO victory and Elder with stitches, but both got an extra $50,000 bonus.
This banger is over! The doctor calls this one off due to a cut above Evan Elder's eye.@Naz_MMA is leaving #UFCVegas69 with the victory in his Octagon debut 👏 pic.twitter.com/5cgS2KaCuX
— UFC (@ufc) February 18, 2023
The winner: Makhachev vs. Volkanovski
Makhachev walked into one of the most intense atmospheres in UFC history as champion. When he left, the belt came with him.
In front of a rowdy RAC Arena full of passionate fans who cheered on his opponent Volkanovski, the promotion’s lightweight champion Makhachev (24-1 MMA, 13-1 UFC) retained his title via unanimous decision. The bout served as the UFC 284 main event in Perth, Australia.
The matched the UFC-ranked No. 1 and No. 2 pound-for-pound fighters in the world against each other – a first-time happening. Volkanovski, the UFC featherweight champion, elevated to 155 pounds and served as UFC lightweight champion Makhachev’s first title defense.
Few crowds have paralleled the loudness of the environment when Volkanovski first, then Makhachev second, walked into RAC Arena. The two fighters met opposite receptions as the fans sang along to “Down Under” by Men At Work during Volkanovski’s walk, and booed during Makhachev’s walk.
The thunderous energy continued through the introductions and well into the first round, and reenergized when Volkanovski landed the first big punch of the fight. Makhachev stumbled backward but did not go down. Moments later, both men landed hard shots
Champ vs champ
P4P #1 vs #2
It's time to make HISTORY #UFC284 pic.twitter.com/Xd8X3yYzS2
— UFC (@ufc) February 12, 2023
Makhachev’s strike dropped Volkanovski down briefly. Volkanovski popped up but was taken down. Makhachev shimmied to the back but was unable to sneak in a choke before the round ended.
In Round 2, Volkanovski was first to land a significant blow. A punch dropped Makhachev, who popped up and took Volkanovski down again. Volkanovski rose back to his feet and they separated. Just as Volkanovski found his stride with successful strikes, Makhachev stunned him again. Volkanovski went on the retreat and recovered before some wall-and-stall and the end-of-round horn.
The pace slowed in Round 3, as both men were more calculated and patient with their attacks. Midway through the round, Makhachev took Volkanovski down. But like all the other instances with one exception, Volkanovski quickly worked his way back up to the feet. As the round progressed, the crowd loudened. Volkanovski’s technical striking found more success in the final minutes of the round, and was acknowledged by the Perth faithful upon the horn.
In Round 4, Makhachev returned to his roots when he completed a pristinely-timed takedown. Makhachev shifted to Volkanovski’s back and locked in a body triangle. Makhachev controlled Volkanovski but was unable to muster up much offense over the course of three minutes until the round ended. In the final 30 seconds, however, a fired-up Volkanovski threw blind punches over his head, which connected on Makhachev’s face.
With the bout potentially anyone’s at the beginning of Round 5, the crowd gave a standing ovation before the final frame. Makhachev popped Volkanovski with a good punch. The blow, which Volkanovski acknowledged, resulted in a cut.
Makhachev shot for a takedown, but once again Volkanovski escaped. With each positive action by Volkanovski, the Perth crowd frenzied. Another takedown attempt by Makhachev was stuffed and Volkanovski clinched.
As the clock ticked around the four-minute mark of the final round, Volkanovski landed a punch that visibly rocked Makhachev and sent him to the ground. The crowd exploded as Volkanovski rained down ground-and-pound until the final bell.
With experts and fans alike unsure of exactly which way the judges would lean, Makhachev’s name was announced – and down came the boos.
We just witnessed an ALL TIMER 🙌 #UFC284 pic.twitter.com/Abd1D0T24S
— UFC (@ufc) February 12, 2023
Makhachev extends his winning streak to 12, a stretch that also includes victories over Charles Oliveira, Dan Hooker, and Arman Tsarukyan.
The defeat marks Volkanovski’s first in the UFC – and his first overall since May 2013. The loss snaps a 22-fight winning streak.
[opinary poll=”which-was-the-best-fight-of-february-202″ customer=”mmajunkie”>