Volkanovski Defends His Title While Pantoja Dethrones Moreno | UFC 290 Post-Card Review

UFC 290 post-card review
UFC 290 Post-Card Review. Credit to DiarioMMA. License.

UFC 290 was an excellent card and certainly one worthy of International Fight Week. Pantoja upset Moreno to become the new UFC men’s flyweight champion, Du Plessis finished Whittaker to set up a title fight against Adesanya, and Volkanovski reaffirmed his status as the best featherweight in the world with his third-round finish of Yair Rodriguez. With that said, let’s dive deeper into all the action that took place at UFC 290.

UFC 290 Post-Card Review: Volkanovski Dominated and Finished Yair Rodriguez

Volkanovski himself stated that Yair Rodriguez was a dangerous opponent and an exciting challenge for him, but the undisputed featherweight champion reminded everyone that he is still by far the best male featherweight mixed martial artist in the world at UFC 290. Rodriguez landed some good shots during the fight. However, Volkanovski seemed to figure out Rodriguez’s timing for the most part after roughly the first two minutes of the first round were over.

After that point, Volkanovski dominated the first round with his excellent striking and well-timed takedowns. Rodriguez struggled to keep Volkanovski at kicking range where he wanted him. Additionally, Rodriguez could not stop Volkanovski from taking him down for the most part.

The timing of Volkanovski’s takedowns was too good and his strength allowed him to bulldoze his way through Rodriguez even if Rodriguez saw the takedown attempt in time to try to stop it. This culminated in the third round when Volkanovski hurt Rodriguez with a right hook, took him down, and finished him on the ground via vicious ground-and-pound strikes.

Rodriguez is a top-tier featherweight, but Volkanovski was just too much for him. It seems like Ilia Topuria could be next in line to face Volkanovski. If so, Topuria has a monumental task in front of him to try to dethrone Alexander ‘The Great’ Volkanovski.

Pantoja Dethrones Moreno In An All-Time Classic Flyweight Title Fight

Pantoja vs. Moreno 2 was billed as an exciting match-up of two top-tier flyweights who have an ability to finish their opponents. It proved to be far more than that. It was an all-out war between Moreno and Pantoja, with each fighter getting in trouble at various points of the fight.

Moreno had the edge in terms of the striking battle, but Pantoja was able to take Moreno down multiple times and control him on the ground. Pantoja threatened to submit Moreno on several occasions, but the fight went to the scorecards after 25 minutes of brutal, back-and-forth action.

Ultimately, the judges awarded Pantoja the split decision victory. Two judges scored the bout 48-47 Pantoja while one judge somehow scored it 49-46 Moreno. That 49-46 Moreno scorecard makes no sense, given what happened in this fight. Nonetheless, Pantoja is the new UFC men’s flyweight champion and the trilogy bout with Brandon Moreno is likely next for the division.

UFC 290 Post-Card Review: Du Plessis Finishes Whittaker and Earns a Middleweight Title Shot

The betting odds favored Whittaker heading into this highly anticipated middleweight fight. However, Du Plessis won the first round 10-9 thanks to effective striking and successful takedown attempts. After that, Du Plessis pulled off the upset by finishing Whittaker via TKO in the second round.

This is the first TKO loss for Whittaker since Adesanya dethroned him in the pair’s first middleweight title fight in 2019. Whittaker is 32 years old and Du Plessis’s ability to hurt and finish him shows that Whittaker might not have the same durability that he once did. For Du Plessis, it is a huge victory that surely means he will fight Adesanya for the undisputed UFC middleweight title next.

Adesanya seems to want this fight, since he has already fought and defeated Whittaker twice. Adesanya vs. Du Plessis will be an interesting bout. However, Du Plessis will have his hands full trying to dethrone a seemingly revitalized Israel Adesanya.

UFC 290 Was A Thrilling Fight Card

The UFC often at least attempts to put together exciting fight cards for International Fight Week. UFC 290 certainly lived up to the hype and then some. UFC 290 was one of the best UFC fight cards of 2023 so far. I would bet that UFC 290 will be one of the most watched UFC cards of 2023 by the time the year is over.

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