JACKSONVILLE — The UFC 273 card delivered Saturday night at a raucous VyStar Veterans Memorial Arena. Alexander ‘The Great’ Volkanovski produced a dominant performance in a fourth-round knockout win over Chan Sung ‘The Korean Zombie’ Jung.
Volkanovski won the main event as a -700 favorite when referee Herb Dean called a halt to the contest 45 seconds into Round 4. The Aussie successfully defended his featherweight title for the third time. Bettors backing the prop for Volkanovski to win inside the distance cashed tickets for a +150 return.
Sharps like GambLou of The ‘Bout Business podcast hit the prop for Volkanovski to win by KO/TKO for a +165 payout. DraftKings paid out a +1400 return to gamblers who took Volkanovski to win in Round 4. The ‘under’ (4.5 rounds, +110) was also a winner.
In the co-main event, Aljamain Sterling retained his bantamweight strap with a split-decision win (48-47, 47-48, 48-47) over Petr Yan as a +340 underdog at BetMGM. According to MMADecisions, one media member scored it 48-45 for Sterling, nine media members had it 48-46 for Sterling and one had it 48-47 Sterling.
Also, five media members scored it as a 47-47 Draw, while two had it 48-47 in Yan’s favor. By my count, that’s 11 votes for Sterling, five for a draw and two for Yan.
Sterling won his seventh consecutive fight and called out former two-time bantamweight champion T.J. Dillashaw, who had a close view of his future foe from his seats next to the cage.
UFC President Dana White didn’t agree with the judges’ decision. He said, “I thought that the judges blew that one.”
The crowd roared its approval when Khamzat Chimaev made his fifth career walk to the Octagon to face Gilbert Burns, the second-ranked welterweight contender. None of Chimaev’s first 10 career fights had gone beyond 75 seconds into Round 2, and he’d finished all 10 previous opponents.
Well, that was until Chimaev ran into Burns inside a cage on a Saturday night in Jacksonville.
Burns was a big step up in competition for Chimaev, who closed as a -500 to -550 ‘chalk’ at most books. It was the favorite who came out strong, as usual, scoring multiple takedowns in the opening frame. However, unlike his previous foes, Burns offered resistance on the ground, working his way back to his feet twice.
But in the final minute of Round 1, Chimaev dropped Burns with a right hand and started to deliver ruthless ground-and-pound punishment. The Brazilian was able to survive, though, and Chimaev won the first stanza.
In the second round, Burns began to have success with his striking. In fact, he dropped Chimaev twice in the second frame. When Chimaev bounced up immediately after being dropped the first time, Burns unleashed a series of a thunderous uppercuts that all found their target.
At this point, the crowd was in a delirious frenzy. Also, Chimaev abandoned his wrestling. It was as if he wanted to prove he could win without it, especially once Burns began to get the best of the striking exchanges.
Burns landed more strikes and the most powerful ones in the second stanza, evening the score at 19-19 going to the third and deciding round.
It was a back-and-forth, five-minute war in the third. It was all conducted standing. Both men began to tire less than two minutes into the frame. But it was Chimaev who was more active and controlling the Octagon, keeping Burns mostly near the fence. When it ended, both bloodied warriors showed great sportsmanship.
All three judges scored it 29-28 for Chimaev, as did MajorWager. According to MMADecisions, 16 media members scored it 29-28 for Chimaev, one had it 28-27 for Chimaev and one scored it 29-28 for Burns.
Needless to say, the bout garnered Fight of the Night honors to provide each fighter with an extra $50,000.
“A f—ing tough guy, I didn’t know he was so tough,” Chimaev said of Burns. “The guy comes up with Brazilian heart. Thank you for this fight, Gilbert. I love you, brother, all respect. This is just what I do for work to make money.”
Chimaev continued, “He did three rounds strong. I f—ing worked hard for everything. I never stop my training if I’m not injured but that guy was f—ing good today.”
At the postfight presser, Burns said, “I go against the odds, I don’t care. I will fight anyone, it doesn’t matter. My goal is to become the champion and I have to fight the toughest guys. Every time I am in here, I am going to give everything that I have. They are going to have to f—ing kill me. I won’t stop.”
Chimaev seems to be headed toward a fight with Colby ‘Chaos’ Covington later this year.
In a women’s strawweight clash, Mackenzie Dern captured a split-decision victory over Tecia Torres as a -120 favorite. However, 11 media members scored it 29-28 for Torres, while only seven had it 29-28 for Dern.
In the pay-per-view opener, Mark Madsen remained undefeated with a UD win over Vinc Pichel (30-27, 29-28, 29-28).
In the Prelims headliner, Dubliner Ian Garry’s record stayed unblemished thanks to a UD win over Darian Weeks (30-27, 29-28, 30-27) as a -400 ‘chalk.’
Volkanovski and Alexey Oleinik earned the two Performance of the Night bonuses for $50,000 apiece. Oleinik snapped a three-fight losing streak by submitting Jared Vanderaa with a scarf hold in Round 1.
**B.E.’s Octagon Nuggets**
–UFC 273 was the debut of a new Crypto.com/FanBonus. The bonuses are voted on by the fans and are paid out in bitcoin. The No. 1 fighter gets $30,000, second place collects $20,000 and third place gets $10,000. The UFC 273 winners were Chimaev (#1 for 30K), Volkanovski (#2) and Yan (#3).
–If I had voted, it would have been Volkanovski #1, Sterling #2 and Chimaev #3.
–Former UFC flyweight and bantamweight champion Henry Cejudo is re-entering the USADA testing pool and coming out of retirement. He’ll be looking to get a fight booked later this year. He wants a shot at Volkanovski in an attempt to become the first fighter in UFC history to hold belts across three different divisions. However, White has previously shot down the idea of Cejudo coming out of retirement and jumping right into a title shot.
–Another fighter with Volkanovski on his mind? That would be unbeaten Bryce Mitchell, who knows he needs another win over a top-five contender before it happens. Nevertheless, it’s on his mind already:
–I hope nobody tailed my picks for UFC 273 because it was ugly. I mean a bloodbath! My lone winner was ‘under’ 1.5 rounds in the Vanderaa-Oleinik scrap.
–No odds have been released for Covington vs. Chimaev yet.
–Burns seemed to be in good spirits early Monday: