Biggest Stories Coming out of UFC 298

Biggest Stories Coming out of UFC 298

Liam Lindsay|
February 18, 2024|

An action-packed Pay-Per-View closed out with Ilia Topuria becoming the fifth Featherweight Champion in Featherweight history, KOing Alexander Volkanovski in the second round to steal his title. We will be looking at some of the biggest stories moving forward and how UFC 298 changes the landscape of MMA.

Ilia Topuria Is "The" Next-Gen Featherweight

The odds for the matchup between Topuria and Volkanovski were near-even, but still, watching Volkanovski get flatlined at Featherweight was something fans were not prepared to see. Ilia Topuria performed fantastically, showing he's a next-generation fighter and talent. And now, a new era for the Featherweight division has begun.

While there are promising contenders in the division, like Movsar Evloev, Arnold Allen, and Diego Lopes, none of these 145ers have the same aura carried by Topuria. The 27-year-old is now just 7-0 in the UFC and has a pool of contenders at his doorstep. There's so much excitement that's already gone down in the career "El Matador," and there's even more to look forward to with the Topuria-Era; we're only just at the beginning.


Robert Whittaker Is As Dangerous As Ever

It is so easy to forget that Robert Whittaker just turned 33. After all, "The Reaper" has competed in the UFC since December 2012, nearly twelve years ago. And, having won the Middleweight Championship at such a young age, it wasn't surprising that the fans lost a little faith in Whittaker heading into this matchup. But, in typical fashion, we've all been reminded that he isn't going anywhere.

The Aussie has been counted out multiple times in his career, both times after losing to Israel Adesanya, after being TKOed by Stephen Thompson, and now after losing to Dricus du Plessis. But, after surviving early in the first round, we saw a sharp Robert Whittaker in rounds 2 and 3, clearly outclassing Costa and proving he can dig deep to take control of the fight.

As of now, Whittaker is in an ideal spot in the division. With the new generation of Middleweights rising through the rankings and veterans becoming available, there's a lot that can be done with Whittaker now. Do you put him and Sean Strickland together for a title eliminator bout, or match him up with Kamaru Usman, who's coming off a competitive decision loss to Khamzat Chimaev? Whatever it may be, "The Reaper" will always put his best foot forward.

Henry Cejudo Is Actually Done Now

One of the tougher stories coming out of UFC 298 was Henry Cejudo's bitter defeat. The former two-division UFC Champion started strong in the first round but was overwhelmed by Merab Dvalishvili's pace in the second and third. Cejudo told the media he'd retire with a loss to Dvalishvili this weekend, and especially after his performance, it seems like the logical and final next step in the MMA career of Henry Cejudo.

But we do need to give the man his flowers. Cejudo retired in 2020 and went off to enjoy the finer things in life, and only came back over three years later to challenge himself. His first fight was a five-round title fight against a divisional GOAT, which he narrowly lost via split decision. And his second fight was vs. a scary up-and-coming contender who nobody wanted to fight. You may have varying opinions on Cejudo, but one thing is for sure: the man had a fantastic combat sports career.


Paulo Costa... Looked Great?

Eighteen months is not an ideal time for a layoff, and the best way to make that layoff even worse is to fight once a year since 2018. With that amount of time off between bouts, you'd expect Paulo Costa to be severely ring-rusted. But, despite losing, that fight was one of Costa's best performances against one of his career-toughest opponents.

Costa was just as fast as Whittaker in the early stages of the fight and varied his attacks up with leg kicks, straight and looping punches, as well as some flashy head kicks that snuck through on Whittaker. Furthermore, unlike in his last fight against Luke Rockhold, Costa was able to keep a high action pace across all three rounds, something we haven't seen him do since his war vs. Yoel Romero.

Losing feels bad no matter who you are. But Paulo Costa can hold his head incredibly high after that performance and, hopefully, will remain active throughout 2024.

What were some of your biggest takeaways from UFC 298? As a member of the Verdict Community, let us know your thoughts in the comments below.

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