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  • 作家相片陳相宇

UFC Saudi Arabia Event Full of Surprises: Whittaker KOs Aliskerov in 109 Seconds, Volkov Wins Bloody Battle Against Pavlovich

The UFC's debut event in Saudi Arabia delivered a night of thrilling action and unexpected outcomes, showcasing the unpredictable nature of mixed martial arts. From lightning-fast knockouts to grueling wars of attrition, UFC Fight Night: Whittaker vs. Aliskerov provided fans with a memorable spectacle at the Kingdom Arena in Riyadh.

Whittaker's Emphatic Return to Form

In the main event, former middleweight champion Robert Whittaker made a resounding statement, dispatching the highly-touted Ikram Aliskerov in just 109 seconds. The Australian fighter, nicknamed "The Reaper," lived up to his moniker with a devastating performance that reaffirmed his status as one of the division's elite.

Whittaker, who had faced setbacks in recent years, including losses to Israel Adesanya and Dricus du Plessis, silenced doubters with his clinical display of striking. The fight began with both men cautiously feeling each other out, but it didn't take long for Whittaker to find his range. A perfectly timed right hand caught Aliskerov flush, sending him crashing to the canvas. Whittaker followed up with ground strikes, forcing the referee to intervene and halt the contest.

The victory not only earned Whittaker a $50,000 Performance of the Night bonus but also thrust him back into the title conversation. In his post-fight interview, Whittaker expressed his desire to compete at the upcoming UFC 305 event in Perth, Australia, potentially as a backup for the middleweight title fight.

Volkov Outclasses Pavlovich in Bloody Co-Main Event

The co-main event saw a clash of heavyweight titans as Alexander Volkov took on Sergei Pavlovich in a bout that exceeded expectations. Over three grueling rounds, Volkov's technical striking and iron chin proved too much for the hard-hitting Pavlovich.

From the opening bell, Volkov established his jab, keeping Pavlovich at bay and slowly accumulating damage. As the fight progressed, Pavlovich's face began to show the effects of Volkov's precise attacks, with blood streaming from multiple cuts. Despite Pavlovich's reputation as a knockout artist, Volkov's defensive awareness and ability to absorb punishment allowed him to weather the storm.

By the final round, both men were visibly fatigued, but Volkov's superior conditioning enabled him to maintain his output. The judges' scorecards unanimously favored Volkov, extending his winning streak to four and potentially setting him up for a title eliminator bout in the near future.

Oezdemir Shocks Walker with First-Round KO

In a light heavyweight contest that promised fireworks, Volkan Oezdemir delivered a stunning knockout victory over Johnny Walker. The fight, which many expected to go the distance, ended in dramatic fashion just over a minute into the first round.

Oezdemir, known for his powerful striking, caught Walker with a perfectly timed right hand that sent the Brazilian crashing to the canvas. The knockout was so decisive that no follow-up strikes were necessary, with the referee immediately waving off the contest.

The victory earned Oezdemir a Performance of the Night bonus and injected new life into his career at 205 pounds. For Walker, the loss represents a significant setback in his quest to climb the divisional rankings.

Gastelum's Controversial Win Draws Criticism

Kelvin Gastelum's unanimous decision victory over Daniel Rodriguez was marred by controversy surrounding the weigh-in process. Gastelum, who has struggled with weight issues throughout his career, initially missed weight for the welterweight bout. The fight was subsequently moved to a catchweight of 175 pounds, raising questions about fairness and professionalism.

Despite the pre-fight drama, Gastelum dominated the contest, utilizing his wrestling and ground control to neutralize Rodriguez's striking. The win marked Gastelum's first victory since 2019, but UFC CEO Dana White expressed his displeasure with the situation in the post-fight press conference.

White stated, "I'm not thrilled with Kelvin Gastelum after UFC on ABC 6 weight issues," highlighting the organization's ongoing challenges with fighters failing to make contracted weight limits.

Rising Stars Shine on Prelim Card

The preliminary card featured several impressive performances from up-and-coming fighters looking to make their mark in the UFC. Felipe Lima's submission victory over Muhammad Naimov stood out, earning the Brazilian a Performance of the Night bonus in his promotional debut.

Another highlight came from Shara Magomedov, who scored a vicious third-round knockout over Antonio Trocoli. However, Magomedov's win was overshadowed by controversy, as replays showed him grabbing the fence during a crucial exchange - an illegal tactic that went unpunished during the fight.

Saudi Arabia Embraces the UFC

The event marked a significant milestone for the UFC's global expansion, bringing elite-level mixed martial arts to Saudi Arabia for the first time. The Kingdom Arena in Riyadh provided a state-of-the-art venue for the fights, with local fans turning out in force to support the historic occasion.

While the card featured no women's bouts and eschewed the traditional use of "ring girls" out of respect for local customs, the enthusiasm from the crowd demonstrated the universal appeal of combat sports. The success of this event is likely to pave the way for future UFC cards in the region, as the organization continues to tap into new markets.

Implications for the Middleweight Division

Robert Whittaker's emphatic victory over Ikram Aliskerov has significant ramifications for the UFC's middleweight landscape. With champion Sean Strickland set to defend his title against Dricus du Plessis at UFC 305, Whittaker has positioned himself as a potential next challenger.

The Australian's willingness to serve as a backup for the Perth event adds an intriguing wrinkle to the title picture. Should either Strickland or du Plessis be forced to withdraw, Whittaker could find himself with an unexpected opportunity to reclaim UFC gold.

Heavyweight Landscape Shifts

Alexander Volkov's victory over Sergei Pavlovich reshuffles the deck in the heavyweight division. With champion Jon Jones set to face Stipe Miocic in a superfight later this year, Volkov has staked his claim as a top contender. His ability to neutralize Pavlovich's fearsome power will likely see him matched up against another elite heavyweight in his next outing.

For Pavlovich, the loss represents a significant setback in his quest for a title shot. Having lost to Miocic in his UFC debut back in 2018, the Russian fighter will need to regroup and put together another impressive win streak to remain in contention.

Controversy and Criticism

The event was not without its share of controversy, both inside and outside the octagon. Kelvin Gastelum's weight issues and subsequent victory drew criticism from fans and UFC management alike. The incident highlights the ongoing challenges faced by the organization in ensuring fighters compete at their contracted weight classes.

Additionally, the decision to hold an event in Saudi Arabia sparked debate among some fans and media members, given the country's human rights record. However, the UFC has consistently maintained that its goal is to bring the sport to fans worldwide, regardless of geopolitical considerations.

Looking Ahead: Future Events and Matchups

As the dust settles on UFC Fight Night: Whittaker vs. Aliskerov, attention now turns to the upcoming schedule of events. The success of this card in Saudi Arabia is likely to lead to more international shows, as the UFC continues to expand its global footprint.

For the victorious fighters, particularly Whittaker and Volkov, the focus will be on securing high-profile matchups that could lead to title opportunities. The defeated competitors, meanwhile, face the challenge of regrouping and working their way back up the rankings in their respective divisions.


The UFC's inaugural event in Saudi Arabia delivered on its promise of excitement and unpredictability. From Robert Whittaker's lightning-fast knockout to Alexander Volkov's gritty decision victory, fans were treated to a diverse showcase of mixed martial arts skills.

As the organization continues to break new ground in international markets, events like UFC Fight Night: Whittaker vs. Aliskerov serve as a reminder of the sport's universal appeal. With new stars emerging and established veterans reasserting their dominance, the future of the UFC looks brighter than ever.

The surprises and storylines that unfolded in Riyadh will undoubtedly shape the narrative of multiple weight divisions in the months to come. As the MMA world digests the results of this landmark event, one thing is clear: in the ever-evolving landscape of professional fighting, expect the unexpected.


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