Bonus Winners, Highlights And Scorecards

There are levels to the MMA game, and Robert Whittaker sent that message to everyone in the UFC’s middleweight division on Saturday afternoon in Saudi Arabia.

You cannot simply drop a guy in on short notice and expect him to give me a fight.

Whittaker wasted no time destroying short-notice replacement Ikram Aliskerov at the main event of the UFC Saudi Arabia. Whittaker initially hurt Aliskerov with a straight right hand, but he ultimately finished the deal with an uppercut and two follow-up punches before referee Marc Goddard stepped in to call a halt to the fight.

Take a look at the finish:

Whittaker had everything to lose in this fight.

He was initially set to face Khamzat Chimaev, but the latter pulled out of the fight last week after getting food poisoning. Aliskerov, whose only previous defeat came against Chimaev before both men arrived in the UFC, was removed from a co-main event spot in last week’s UFC Vegas 93 card and upgraded to the spot against Whittaker.

It didn’t take long to see that the 31-year-old Russian was out of his league. Aliskerov, a promising and talented contender, may get a fight with another middleweight sitting just outside the top 15 in his next bout.

While he was not ready for the duty he was pressed into on Saturday, he still holds great potential for future success in the division. Whittaker, who earned one of the Performance of the Night Bonuses for his work, should hold securely as the No. 3 middleweight in the world.

He’d likely love to get a title shot in his next fight, and he’d also likely say yes to a fight with Sean Strickland, with the winner getting a battle against the winner of Israel Adesanya vs. Dricus Du Plessis.

Several MMA outlets seem to agree that a Whittaker-Strickland fight is the most logical and exciting next step for the division.

The Adesanya-Du Plessis fight is scheduled for August 17 at UFC 305 in Perth, Australia.

The Australia-born Whittaker volunteered to be a potential replacement fighter for either man should the main event need someone to step in. Whittaker has lost to Adesanya twice and Du Plessis once, so it makes sense to be behind Strickland in line.

Strickland beat Adesanya and lost his title to Du Plessis in a controversial split decision earlier this year. No matter what happens next for Whittaker, he has positioned himself for a substantial opportunity in his next fight.

Alexander Volkov Makes Easy Work of a Salty Sergei Pavlovich

In a battle between two Russian former training partners, the veteran Alexander Volkov showcased his superior skills.

His use of his reach, precise jabs, and well-timed side kicks not only earned him points but also inflicted significant cumulative damage to his opponent’s face, leading to a decisive unanimous decision win.

After the fight, Volkov went to Pavlovich to show respect, and the latter shoved him away in frustration.

Take a look:

Volkov has now won three fights in a row, and Pavlovich, once the hottest heavyweight contender in the UFC, has lost two in a row.

UFC Saudi Arabia Bonus Winners

POTN: Robert Whittaker, Shara Magomedov, Alexander Volkov and Felipe Lima

Whittaker deserved his bonus. Shara Magomedov earned a bonus with a third-round TKO win over a late replacement in Antonio Trocoli.

Volkov’s demolition of Pavlovich earned one of the bonuses, and he could at least get a shot at the interim title. Lastly, Felipe Lima won impressively with a third-round submission victory over Muhammad Naimov in the prelims.

Here are the results from the UFC’s first-ever event in Saudi Arabia, with scorecards and finish highlights.

UFC Saudi Arabia Results, Scorecards and Highlights

  • Robert Whittaker def. Ikram Aliskerov via first-round KO
  • Alexander Volkov def. Sergei Pavlovich via unanimous decision (30-27×2, 29-28)
  • Kelvin Gastelum def. Daniel Rodriguez via unanimous decision (30-27×2, 29-28)
  • Shara Magomedov def. Antonio Trocoli via third-round KO
  • Volkan Oezdemir def. Johnny Walker via first-round KO
  • Nasrat Haqparast defeats Jared Gordon via split decision (28-29, 29-28 x2)
  • Felipe Lima def. Muhammad Naimov – submission (rear-naked choke) – Round 3, 1:15
  • Rinat Fakhretdinov (29-28, 29-28) def. Nicolas Dalby by Split Decision
  • Muin Gafurov def. Kyun Ho Kang via unanimous decision (30-27×3)
  • Magomed Gadzhiyasulov def. Brendson Ribeiro via majority decision (29-28×2, 28-28)
  • Chang Ho Lee def. Long Xiao via split decision to win Road to UFC: Asia (29-28×2, 28-29)

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