In one of the most dramatic fights of the year, Alex Volkanovski proved his critics wrong and left a gallant Brian Ortega bloodied and beaten.
And after the fight, he took down Conor McGregor, too.
The mouthy Irishman took to Twitter after Volkanovski’s win at UFC 266, saying: “I’d kick this volovski (sp) head off like it was a rugby ball I was kicking. 5’4! And full of muscle! Hahahahaha little fart he is. Not even a little fart. A shart haahahahaj jackass .”
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McGregor later deleted the tweet and replaced it with “Not a bad fight. Congrats shartsy.”
Volkanovski, who holds the title McGregor won back in 2015, has spoken previously about being interested in fighting the megastar (understandly given the money he’d receive for it).
“I heard about it. Sounds like he’s on the piss. Good on him, I will be too,” Volkanovski said in his press conference.
“Something about sharting, farting, it didn’t really make sense.
“It’s Conor doing Conor things, good on him. I’m not sure if he wants to come back down to 145 – well, obviously that’ll never happen.”
After being told McGregor’s tweet came after the commentators said Volkanovski had beaten the two greatest featherweights ever, Jose Aldo and Max Holloway, the Aussie replied: “That would’ve stung him a little bit. Especially while he’s on the piss, you know.
“I’m gonna be on the piss, maybe you’ll see some weird f***ing tweets from me too.”
After defending his UFC featherweight belt and claiming a 20th-straight win, the Australian had a clear message.
“All you doubters, I’m going to prove you wrong time and time again,” he said in the octagon.
“Bring it. About f***ing time [you put respect on my name].
“Keep doubting me. I love it. I’ll be underdog to the day I die.”
He is Australia’s only current UFC champion and has already established himself as one of the best fighters on the planet.
On Sunday afternoon, Volkanovski turned escape artist to get out of a guillotine and arm triangle against Ortega in a fight for the ages.
In the end, Volkanovski’s double Houdini act was rewarded in a unanimous decision 49-46, 50-45, 50-44 win.
Volkanovski still had his doubters heading into Sunday’s bout.
Critics who would point out controversial finishes to previous fights against Max Holloway as evidence of why they want to see more from the Australian.
It was only fuel and there was no questioning Volkanovski’s toughness after an incredible third round and epic fight in general that left the UFC world stunned.
Ortega has long proven himself one of the most opportunistic fighters in the sport and seized the moment not once but twice and in most cases it would have ended in victory.
Volkanovski though is a completely different beast.
First, Ortega dropped the Australian with a partially landed punch and then capitalised with a guillotine choke.
Volkanovski was able to get out but it was far from over, with Ortega trying to lock him up with a choke again but this time the champion hit back.
The twists kept coming as Ortega then responded with a deep triangle choke before Volkanovski again escaped and dropped a few heavy shots.
The flurry continued until the horn sounded and a tired Ortega was left to regain his energy and last the fight.
The doctor and referee both went to check on Ortega before the start of the round and cleared him to keep going.
Keep going he did, with Daniel Cormier declaring in commentary: “He’s a zombie”.
“He walks through strikes that most guys can’t take,” he added.
Ortega continued to take the big shots from Volkanovski and search for the submission, ending the fight bloodied and battered.
He threw a few strong punches to end the final round but it was not enough with Volkanovski taking a decision victory in a historic fight.
“That third round was madness,” Daniel Cormier said in commentary.
“One of the best featherweight title fights we’ve ever seen.
“You’re a terminator, Alexander Volkanovski.”
Ortega admitted he thought he had Volkanovski finished in the third round.
“I thought it was done,” he said.
“That’s what we train for. I was trying to go for his head but that little bastard is f***ing tough as hell. I wrapped on that neck, I tried to squeeze it, trust me, I tried to finish him.
“I heard him gargling and he slipped out. I was like: ‘F***, this guy is the champ for a reason.”