ALEXANDER VOLKANOSKI suffered a horrific cut above his left eye in his ill-fated showdown with Islam Makhachev.
The dominant featherweight champion challenged his lightweight counterpart for the 155lb strap early on Sunday morning in the main event of UFC 284 in Perth, Australia.
Volkanovski turned in the best display seen against the Dagestani destroyer but ended up suffering a unanimous decision defeat.
The beloved Aussie took the lightweight king the distance and was seemingly moments away from victory after a late knockdown.
And that late rally was made even more impressive by the fact he was dealing with a massive cut just above his left eye.
Makhachev opened up the cut with a series of beautiful knees in the clinch after rocking an onrushing Volk with a counter knee up the middle.
Blood poured out of the cut and onto the midriff of the challenger, although the severity of it wasn’t evident until the cageside doctor took a look after the final horn.
The judges scored the thrilling fight 48-47, 48-47, 49-46 in favour of Makhachev, who will take Volkanovski’s spot as pound-for-pound king come Tuesday.
And the protege of UFC legend Khabib Nurmagomedov relished in that fact in his post-fight interview.
Through a chorus of boos, he said: “You like or you don’t like, I am [the[ best fighter in the world right now!”
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A crestfallen Volkanovski said: “I was expecting to win. I knew he was really good and I just knew I prepared properly.
“But hey, it was a fun maybe. Maybe I could’ve capitalised on some positions a bit more. I left it a little bit later.
“But hey, Congrats to Islam. Great fighter. Maybe we’ll settle pound for pound No. 1 again.”
UFC 284 results
- Islam Makhachev def. Alexander Volkanovski via unanimous decision (48–47, 48–47, 49–46)
- Yair Rodriguez def. Josh Emmett via submission (triangle choke) – Round 2, 4:19
- Jack Della Maddelena def. Randy Brown via submission (rear-naked choke) – Round 1, 2:13
- Justin Tafa def. Parker Porter via KO (punch) – Round 1, 1:06
- Jimmy Crute vs Alonzo Menifield – majority draw (30-27, 29-28, 29-28)
- Modestas Bukuaskas def. Tyson Pedro via unanimous decison (30-27, 29-28, 29-28)
- Joshua Culibao def. Melsik Baghdasaryan via submission (rear-naked choke) – Round 2, 2:02
- Kleyson Rodrigues def. Shannon Ross via TKO (punches) – Round 1, 0:59
- Jamie Mullarkey def. Francisco Prado via unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 29-28)
- Jack Jenkis def. Don Shainis via unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 29-28)
- Lima Lookboonmee def. Elise Reed via submission (rear-naked choke) – Round 2, 0:44
- Blake Bilder def. Shane Young via unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 29-28)
- Elvis Brenner def. Zubaira Tukhugov via split decision (29-28, 28-29, 30-27)