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Alexander Volkanovski pummels Chan Sung Jung, retains UFC featherweight title

Alexander Volkanovski vowed to finish Saturday night, something he has yet to do to an rival since becoming UFC featherweight champion. One of the world’s top fighters lived up to his promise.

Volkanovski stopped “The Korean Zombie” Chan Sung Jung via TKO (punches) at 45 seconds of the fourth round Saturday night in the main event of UFC 273 at VyStar Veterans Memorial Arena. With the triumph, Volkanovski picked up his third featherweight title defense.

It was one-way traffic the whole way, with Volkanovski doing damage to Jung in every round. Volkanovski dropped Jung at the end of the third round and nearly finished him with ground and pound.

At the start of the fourth, it was pretty clear referee Herb Dean was keeping an eye on Jung, whose face was badly marked up and whose nose looked broken. When Volkanovski landed a big combo early in the fourth, Dean stepped in to stop it even though Jung was still standing.

“He actually took a lot more than I wanted him to,” Volkanovski said in his postfight interview. “I thought they could have stopped it earlier. That’s the sport we’re in.”

ESPN has Volkanovski ranked No. 4 on its MMA pound-for-pound list.

At featherweight, Volkanovski is ranked No. 1 and Jung is No. 9. Max Holloway, whom Volkanovski has defeated twice in title fights, was the initially scheduled opponent for Volkanovski before withdrawing due to injury.

“Everybody in my division, I’ve been saying it for a while now,” Volkanovski said. “Get your s— together and earn that No. 1 spot. If you don’t, you’re gonna miss out.”

Volkanovski dropped Jung with a right hand at the end of the first round and then took him off his feet again with a leg kick right after. It was more big combos for Volkanovski in the second round.

Jung, who had the crowd’s support, started off the third round hot. But before long, Volkanovski took over again. It felt like he was landing every combination he threw, including the one at the end of the round that nearly stopped Jung. Early in the fourth, it was over.

Jung made no excuses, stating that he came into the fight the most confident he has been in his career.

“I wasn’t tired. I was ready to go,” Jung said. “But I felt like I had a wall that I could not go over.”

Volkanovski outlanded Jung 138-48 in significant strikes. Volkanovski landed 64% of significant strikes, his best rate as champion in the UFC.

Volkanovski (24-1) has won 11 consecutive to start his UFC career and 21 in a row overall. The 11 straight victories is the second-longest active winning streak in the UFC, behind welterweight champ and pound-for-pound king Kamaru Usman (15). Volkanovski is one of just five fighters to start his career at 11-0 or better in the UFC. The others are all-time greats: Anderson Silva, Khabib Nurmagomedov, Royce Gracie and Usman.

“I think tonight [Volkanovski] came out and made a statement that ‘I’m the baddest dude in the division, in the world,'” UFC president Dana White said. “‘Zombie’ looked like he didn’t even belong there. … [Volkanovski] couldn’t look better than he looked tonight. He looked incredible.”

Volkanovski, an Australia native, defended his title versus Brian Ortega via unanimous decision at UFC 266 last September and now has three successful title defenses. Volkanovski, 33, beat Holloway to win the belt at UFC 245 in December 2019.

With his dominance in the featherweight division, Volkanovski said he could move up to lightweight and will be keeping an eye on the lightweight title fight between champion Charles Oliveira and Justin Gaethje at UFC 274 on May 7 in Phoenix. He also left open the possibility of a third fight with Holloway, whom Volkanovski has narrowly beaten twice. Volkanovski said he wants to fight twice more this year.

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