The New King – Ilia Topuria

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Undefeated and king.

Ilia Topuria is the latest fighter to be crowned UFC champion. The new featherweight king is not only 15-0 but has not looked in danger in any of his Octagon appearances. 

The 27-year-old made his UFC debut in 2020 and after winning six fights in a row was finally granted a title shot against one of the greatest to ever fight inside the Octagon – Alexander Volkanovski.

Volkanovski was not one of the UFC champions with the most title defenses at featherweight, having defended the belt five times. However, he was noted to be one of the best pound-for-pound fighters on the roster and Ilia Topuria was able to finish him in the second round with a vicious knockout. The four-punch combination was a thing of absolute beauty.

There were many fans and critics that doubted Topuria coming into the UFC 298 contest, but he never doubted himself. The reason for doubt was justified by the fact that he had not faced a former title holder or even a top contender before earning the title shot. 

Topuria never let that faze him, in fact, it seemed as though he was his own biggest fan. The critics were silenced after the UFC 298 main event.

“I feel so happy Joe [Rogan], I feel so happy right now,” Topuria said in his post fight speech inside the Octagon. “They gonna tell you you can’t do it. They gonna knock you down and doubt you, but guess what? The only person you need to achieve anything in this life is yourself. Just trust yourself, work tirelessly, have faith, and everything is possible.

I just know my skills. I worked so hard for this. I was knowing always that one day I would become a UFC champion. Guys, it doesn’t matter where you come from if you know where you’re going.

After Joe Rogan congratulated Topuria he had one last thing to say to the UFC brass.

“Dana [White], Hunter [Campbell], it’s showtime, it’s time to take the UFC to Spain. And Conor McGregor, if you still have some balls, I will be waiting for you in Spain.”

An odd callout for Topuria, as McGregor is likely not his next opponent. However, it was very interesting as the leadup to UFC 298 was a carbon copy of McGregor leading up to his championship bout with Jose Aldo in 2015.

Volkanovski believes he should be granted an immediate rematch and thinks the Spain thought makes sense.

“Obviously he has some power in his hands. Well done to him, he caught me. I was gonna start working everything, and he got me, so credit to him. He’s a hard hitter, we knew that going in. He wasn’t meant to land like that, but he did.

“He keeps mentioning Spain, maybe we do a rematch there.”

Topuria isn’t the first to hold a UFC championship as an undefeated fighter, he joins the likes of Khabib Nurmagomedov, Israel Adesanya, Jon Jones, Cain Velasquez, Lyoto Machida, Chris Weidman, Ronda Rousey and Joanna Jedrzejczyk.

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Jeremy Brand is an experienced MMA writer and columnist. He is the founder of MMASucka.com, and has represented the company with media credentials at many mixed martial arts fights. Jeremy is also a black belt in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, training in BC, Canada.

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