MMAOB staff writer Adam Martin takes a deeper look at the main event of UFC 273, a five-round featherweight title bout between champion Alexander Volkanovski and challenger The Korean Zombie. The event takes place on Saturday, April 9 at VyStar Veterans Memorial Arena in Jacksonville, Florida.
Alexander Volkanovski (-700)
Volkanovski (23-1) is the UFC featherweight champion. The 33-year-old Australian is currently riding a 20-fight win streak, including a perfect 10-0 record in the Octagon. Since joining the UFC in 2016, Volkanovski has defeated the likes of Max Holloway (twice), Jose Aldo, Brian Ortega, and Chad Mendes. He is one of the most complete pound-for-pound MMA fighters in the world right now, as he’s well-rounded everywhere and doesn’t appear to have any weaknesses. This is a man who can strike and wrestle with the best of them, and he has cardio for days, not to mention his durability is off the charts. It’s no wonder he’s a massive favorite to once again defend his title. But then again, it’s MMA, and we all know that anything can happen, making this title defense against The Korean Zombie intriguing. Despite being a big favorite, this matchup still presents dangers for Volknovski.
The Korean Zombie (+500)
The Korean Zombie (17-6) is the No. 4 ranked featherweight in the UFC. The 35-year-old South Korean has been in the UFC since the WEC folded in 2011, and since then he has racked up a 7-3 record inside the Octagon while fighting the best in the world for the last decade. Some of his most notable wins include Mark Hominick, Dustin Poirier, Frankie Edgar, Renato Moicano, and Dan Ige, with losses to Jose Aldo, Yair Rodriguez, and Brian Ortega. The Zombie is also well-rounded everywhere but he particularly excels in the striking department as he is very heavy-handed. He is also an underrated wrestler with a slick submission game. Despite being a huge underdog here, you can never count the Zombie out of a fight given the danger he possesses. This is a man who has fought the best in the world for well over a decade now and he’s a fighter who has picked up plenty of upsets along the way. Can he score the upset over Volkanovski? We’ll find out on Saturday night.
Fight Breakdown: This should be an awesome matchup for the UFC featherweight title. It’s understandable why Volkanovski is a huge favorite here as he’s never lost in the UFC, and The Korean Zombie is arguably a step down in competition from Holloway and Ortega. That being said, it’s still an MMA fight, and the Zombie has big power. Volkanovski is the more well-rounded fighter and everything points to him likely outpointing the Zombie for a decision. But it’s MMA, and given the Zombie’s KO power, this line seems really high. I’m picking Volkanovski to win a decision, but it wouldn’t completely shock me if the Zombie was able to pull off an upset knockout win, to be honest. Still, I have to go with my head here, and more times than not this is a fight Volknovski wins.
Prediction: Alexander Volkanovski