Alexander Volkanovski (21-1) earned a decision victory over Max Holloway (21-5) to win the featherweight championship Saturday night from T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas.
Holloway kept his distance early in the first, using his range and speed to keep Volkanovski at bay. Volkanovski wasn’t content with letting Holloway pick him apart from range and chipped away at the champ from the inside, shooting in with snapping calf kicks, jabs and overhand attempts.
Volkanovski opened the second with a focus on attacking Holloway’s lead leg, snapping kick after kick. Midway through the frame, Holloway switched to southpaw and Volkanovski continued chipping away with lead leg kicks.
Holloway maintained his southpaw stance in the third but didn’t find as much success as he had in the prior round. Volkanovski didn’t stray too far from his game plan, continuing to connect with leg kicks and a mix of body and headshots.
The cardio of @AlexVolkanovski on full display here!
— UFC (@ufc) December 15, 2019
In the fourth, Holloway moved back to orthodox. In his natural position, Holloway struck Volkanovski with much more confidence, piecing together combinations and taking control of the round. Despite his corner’s wishes of implementing more wrestling into the round, Volkanovski just couldn’t get the champ to the ground.
Likely understanding he needed a strong final round to retain his belt, Holloway attacked from the opening and Volkanovski dished it right back. The two spent much of the final round exchanging shots up until the final bell.
Viewed as Holloway’s toughest challenger to date for the featherweight title, Volkanovski entered the bout unbeaten in the last six years and 17 fights, including wins over Jose Aldo and Chad Mendes in his last two bouts.
After dropping a decision loss to Dustin Poirier in April, Holloway bounced back against Frankie Edgar in his return to the featherweight division before Saturday night’s loss.