Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) Featherweight rivals, Alexander Volkanovski and Max Holloway, collided for a third and likely final time tonight (Saturday, July 2, 2022) at UFC 276, which took place at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada.
Volkanovski and Holloway are by far the two best 145-pound fighters of their time, having already fought twice and delivered some incredibly close matches. Most would agree with the judges who awarded Volkanovski the win at their first meeting, but an equally high percentage of viewers believe Holloway did enough to even the score the last time.
Holloway, meanwhile, insists he won both Volkanovski fights.
Whatever your personal scorecard, the trilogy was super necessary and a fantastic match between two undeniably great Featherweights, both of whom are destined for the UFC’s Hall of Fame. That said, a winner had to be crowned, and once the dust settled, it was Volkanovski running laps around the Hawaiian en route to a dominant decision win.
Both fighters touched gloves, and the 51st minute of cage fighting was underway. Max started off with the pressure, launching a low kick as the pair tried to increase each other. Volkanovski scratches with his left hand while Max starts working on the bottom half. Volkanovski just missed with an uppercut and smiled as if to tell Max he was lucky. Jab and overhand right combination from Volkanovski, with Max skillfully dodging the final shot. Max’s body kick along the cage, with Volkanovski responding to the temple with a straight right hand. Low kicks from Max, while Volkanovski continued to score upstairs. Another right hand from Volkanovski as Max tries to cut the cage off with a high kick. Left hook from Volkanovski followed by a right hand as he attempts a Muay Thai clinch. Hard left hand, then a right hand that stunned Max. Right to the body for Volkanovski, who piles up the damage with a minute to go. Max responds moments later with a nice overhand right, and then another when the action really starts to ramp up. Solid lap for Volkanovski.
Corner worked on Max’s right eye between rounds, but nothing serious…not yet. Max was undaunted and came out looking for a fight. Volkanovski answered with speed and precision, followed by a hard low kick – firing all cylinders early. A left jab from Volkanovski kept Max at bay, while the pair locked up moments later. A hard elbow from Volkanovski landed during the clinch, with Max eventually turning out of danger. Hard right hand from Volkanovski, who opened a bad cut for Holloway, who had a very hard time seeing afterwards. But he kept pressing and launched a high kick that missed. Volkanovski attempted to paint the cut with his jab across the piece, with Max landing a hook and a high kick as the round began to unwind. Volkanovski’s jab-cross, then a short left as the seconds melted. Another solid lap for Volkanovski.
The cut was on the inside of the left eye near the bridge of Max’s nose, a really awful spot. But the cutman did a good job and the pair were clear for round three. They trade hard straight hands to start, with Volkanovski seemingly loading his jab to target that cut. Inside, low kicks from Max as he tried to bully himself inside, but Volkanovski was just too slick, slipped to the side and shopped elsewhere. Volkanovski with a hard one-two combination as the pair again start free trade in the center of the Octagon. Max flew in with one knee, which Volkanovski used to twist him into the cage. They jockeyed for position along the fence, a rare break in the frenetic action, with Volkanovski scoring with a jab and then a hard right hand on the break. Big right hand from Volkanovski when Max tried a kick. Nice combination from Volkanovski with 30 seconds to go, with Max landing a hard right hand on the buzzer. And another solid round for Volkanovski.
On his way to the championship rounds, Max was heartbroken and bleeding. And it looked like he was on the judges’ scorecards… and Volkanovski – the wild animal that he is – wasn’t about to slow down. In fact, he landed a combination of the right hand and knee early on and continued to push forward despite the damage he had sustained. Nice kicks from Max, while Volkanovski seems to slip a bit, maybe save some extra for the fifth and final frame. Volkanovski started to pick up his pace around two minutes and landed some serious power shots that had just been taped to Max’s face. Nice back kick to Max’s body across the stretch…a much better lap for him for sure.
But in the end, Volkanovski was just too accurate, too fast, and too strong for the Hawaiian legend. His corner told him he needed a finish to avoid losing all three matches in the trilogy, but it never materialized despite his best efforts. He was a game, as always, but Volkanovski is just his mixed martial arts (MMA) Kryptonite.
It took 75 minutes in the cage and countless hours outside of it to train, and Volkanovski in his historic trilogy with Holloway finally left no doubt that he is the true champion of the division…and arguably the “greatest all time’. †
Next stop, lightweight?
End result: Volkanovski beats. Holloway via unanimous decision – HIGHLIGHTS!
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