LAS VEGAS — It has been a tremendous 2023 already for UFC featherweight champion Alexander Volkanovski — despite the fact he is officially 0-1 this year.
Volkanovski (25-2) looks to defend his 145-pound championship tonight against interim title holder Yair Rodriguez (15-3) in the main event of the UFC’s illustrious UFC 290 International Fight Week event inside T-Mobile Arena. Volkanovski goes into the contest in a tie with lightweight champion Islam Makhachev as ESPN’s No. 1-ranked pound-for-pound fighter in the world.
The Aussie champion came up short in a bid to dethrone Makhachev at UFC 284 earlier this year in Australia. Although Volkanovski lost to Makhachev via decision, the bout was extremely competitive — far more so than some pundits predicted going in. Right now, it’s a prime candidate for Fight of the Year, and Volkanovski is eyeing a potential rematch against Makhachev later this year.
He has a difficult task ahead of him, however, in Rodriguez, who won the interim title by submitting Josh Emmett in February.
Also on the card, middleweights Robert Whittaker (24-6) and Dricus Du Plessis (19-2) will look to earn a future title shot in a high-profile bout, and highly touted prospect Bo Nickal (4-0) will try to add to the growing hype around his early career.
Follow along as Brett Okamoto, Marc Raimondi and Jeff Wagenheim recap all the action, or watch the fights live on ESPN+ pay-per-view.