Seven months after their first showdown, Alexander Volkanovski (22-1) made good on his promise to keep his featherweight title run going with a decision victory over Max Holloway (21-6) at UFC 251 from “Fight Island” in Abu Dhabi.
Volkanovski and Holloway needed much of the first round to get reacquainted, with neither fighter in a rush to get the action started. The champ attacked Holloway’s leg early, chipping away at this challenger in their return bout much like he did in the first go-around. Holloway sat down on a right that looked to stun the champ and dropped him toward the end of the round with a right head kick.
The champ opened the second with repeated stinging leg kicks, but it was Holloway who was able to piece together combinations as swelling started to show on Volkanovski’s left eye. Up top, anything Volkanovski attempted, Holloway used his length to counter. Again toward the end of the round, Holloway sent Volkanovski to the mat, this time with a quick uppercut counter.
Another knockdown! 😱
— UFC (@ufc) July 12, 2020
Volkanovski started to find openings in the third, continuing to chip away at Holloway’s lead leg and snapping short combinations inside. Holloway stuffed a takedown attempt midway through the round and continued to press forward with a healthy mix of attacks.
In the championship rounds, it was Volkanovski again pushing forward, opening a cut across the bridge of Holloway’s nose. The challenger appeared to stun Volkanovski with a spinning kick to the abdomen, but the champ battled right back with a takedown. Holloway immediately sprung to his feet and charged ahead with a snapping jab.
Holloway and Volkanovski came out swinging in the final round, with each fighter throwing heavy-handed shots. Late in the round, Volkanovski took Holloway to the ground yet again, but the challenger was burst back to his feet. With a minute remaining, Volkanovski picked up the pace again, shooting over and again while looking for opportunities to end the fight, but it went to the judges.
Volkanovski came into his first title defense unbeaten in the last six years and 18 fights, including wins over Holloway, Jose Aldo, and Chad Mendes. Holloway lost two of his last three fights coming into the co-main event. Before his loss to Dustin Poirier in 2019, Holloway hadn’t lost in five years.