Jack Della Maddalena downs Brazilian veteran Gilbert Burns to dream of UFC title shot

Australian welterweight Jack Della Maddalena has world No.3 Shavkat Rakhmonov in his sights.

Australian welterweight Jack Della Maddalena has world No.3 Shavkat Rakhmonov in his sights. Photo: Getty

Australia’s rising welterweight UFC star Jack Della Maddalena wants a showdown against world No.3 Shavkat Rakhmonov, after taking down Brazilian veteran Gilbert Burns at UFC 299 in Miami.

Della Maddalena claimed his 17th straight victory and the biggest of his career on Saturday (Sunday AEDT), with a third-round TKO of world No.5 Burns.

After a hard-fought opening two rounds, Della Maddalena spun out of a takedown attempt from Burns to floor the Brazilian with a knee to the face.

The Australian followed up with a flurry of ground-and-pound punches before the fight was stopped at three minutes 43 seconds.

Della Maddalena is one of the rising stars of the division, and last week made clear he was targeting a shot at the welterweight crown by the end of the year.

Saturday’s victory has helped that cause, with the 27-year-old now dreaming of an elimination against unbeaten Kazakhstani Rakhmonov in Perth this year.

Win that and his dream of a title bout could become a reality, with Leon Edwards the current holder.

“It feels good, my plan was to come here, grab the cash and dash,” Della Maddalena said after his victory in Miami.

“There’s some scary people in this division, but I’m the f—–g scariest.

“Shavkat Rakhmanov, me and you could make a hell of a title eliminator. One of the best in the business. Let’s go.”

Burns was left on his back for several minutes after the fight, with Della Maddalena making a point to check on his rival in a move that raised questions over the time taken for referee Dan Miragliotta to step in and stop the contest.

With former US president Donald Trump in attendance at UFC 299 ahead of the Sean O’Malley and Marlon Vera bout, Della Maddalena was narrowly the better fighter in the first round.

But Burns fought back in the second, landing a good elbow and appearing likely to take the honours.

Della Maddalena did some early damage in the third with a crunching right hook, before finding himself on the back foot at the halfway mark.

But his pounding knee to Burns’ face left the Brazilian stumbling backwards, and ensured the Perth fighter would rise well into the top-10 rankings.

Meanwhile, Sean O’Malley put on a tremendous display of striking to defeat Ecuador’s Marlon “Chito” Vera by unanimous decision and retain his bantamweight title in the main event.

O’Malley, who beat Aljamain Sterling to claim the title back in August 2023, suffered the only loss of his pro career to Vera, going down in the first round of their August 2023 bout after suffering a foot injury.

The re-match proved a different proposition as American O’Malley put on a striking masterclass.

In the co-main event, former interim lightweight champion Dustin Poirier scored a superb second-round knockout to defeat Benoit Saint Denis.


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