If there was any disappointment in having to face a late replacement as an opponent on Saturday, Alexander Volkanovski never showed it. Instead, the defending featherweight champion used UFC 273 as the canvas to paint his career masterpiece.
Volkanovski (24-1) appeared as sharp and powerful as ever before by exploiting his wide speed advantage to break down Chan Sung Jung (17-7) at will until a stoppage by referee Herb Dean at 45 seconds of Round 4 brought their title bout inside VyStar Veterans Memorial Arena in Jacksonville, Florida, to a merciful close.
Jung, the beloved South Korean brawler nicknamed "The Korean Zombie," replaced Max Holloway in January after the former champion pulled out of his trilogy bout against Volkanovski with an injury. Although Jung set a record for the most time passed between title fights after trying unsuccessfully in 2013 to unseat Jose Aldo, he was simply never in the fight against Volkanovski.
In fact, Jung's face was left a grotesque mixture of the blood, scratches and bruises he acquired along the way.
"I told you all before this fight that I am on another level now and can't be stopped," Volkanovski said. "I showed you all. He actually took more of a beating than I wanted him to but that's just a part of the game.
"I just have a drive to be better. Always be better. You can be better everywhere. Have that drive and motivation and just look for ways to improve. Hard work, drive and opportunity got me to where I am and look what I am doing."
Volkanovski, a 33-year-old native of Australia, made the third defense of the title he won against Holloway in 2019. He mixed in calf strikes beautifully with punching combinations and routinely buzzed or dropped Jung with nearly every big power shot.
Jung, 35, questioned after the fight whether he would consider retirement.
"I was most confident out of my entire career," Jung said. "I wasn't tired and I was ready to go but it felt like I hit a wall that I could not go over.
"After every loss, I always think about leaving the Octagon and this MMA game but I will need more time to think on it and see if I will continue fighting. I will have to think on that."
Can't get enough boxing and MMA? Get the latest in the world of combat sports from two of the best in the business. Subscribe to Morning Kombat with Luke Thomas and Brian Campbell for the best analysis and in-depth news, including an instant reaction at the conclusion of the PPV event.
The fight could have easily been stopped after the third round after Jung was dropped late with a right cross and nearly succumbed to an aggressive stretch of ground and pound from Volkanovski. Although the cageside doctor who examined him before the start of Round 4 allowed Jung to keep fighting, it only took a few more combinations for Dean to jump in. Although Volkanovski acknowledged after that a trilogy against Holloway could still be in the cards, he sent a message to the rest of the division.
"Obviously, there was a fight that was meant to be scheduled for this one. Let's see what the UFC says," Volkanovski said. "But hey, everyone in my division, I've been saying it for a while now. Get your shit together, earn that No. 1 spot and you get it. If not, you are going to f---ing miss out. It's that simple."
Elsewhere, Aljamain Sterling silenced his critics with a split decision win over Petr Yan to unify the bantamweight title. Sterling relied on his heavy grappling game to earn early rounds before Yan rallied late.
And Khamzat Chimaev got all he could handle from Gilbert Burns in a welterweight contest. The rising star faced adversity for the first time as Burns returned fire in some heavy exchanges. Chimaev still got the nod on all three scorecards.
CBS Sports was with you the entire way on Saturday bringing you all the results and highlights from the UFC 273 below.
UFC 273 card and results
- Alexander Volkanovski (c) def. Chan Sung Jung via fourth-round TKO (punches)
- Aljamain Sterling (c) def. Petr Yan via split decision (48-47, 47-48, 48-47)
- Khamzat Chimaev def. Gilbert Burns via unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28)
- Mackenzie Dern def. Tecia Torres via split decision (29-28, 28-29, 29-28)
- Mark Madsen def. Vinc Pichel via unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 29-28)
- Ian Garry def. Darian Weeks via unanimous decision (29-28, 30-27, 30-27)
- Anthony Hernandez def. Josh Fremd via unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 29-28)
- Raquel Pennington def. Aspen Ladd via unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28)
- Mike Malott def. Mickey Gall via first-round TKO (punches)
- Aleksei Oleinik def. Jared Vanderaa via first-round submission (neck crank)
- Piera Rodriguez def. Kay Hansen via unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28)
- Julio Arce def. Daniel Santos via unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 29-28)