Throughout the past few weeks, it was unknown if Max Holloway could pull off a win at UFC 251. After all, he did not train properly with his corner due to COVID-19. However, the former UFC Featherweight Champion would not stop until he got his title back.
Unfortunately for him, Alexander Volkanovski was ready to defend his thrown. On Yas Island in Abu Dhabi, Volkanovski (22-1) ended up beating Holloway (21-6) via split decision (47-48, 48-47, 48-47). Volkanovski landed 139 strikes compared to 111 for Holloway. As a result, Volkanovski retained the UFC Featherweight Title.
“I got there in the end. The first two rounds were tough, but I came away with the last three,” Volkanovski stated after the fight. “I had to use all of my tools this fight. it just shows you what type of fighter Max Holloway is.”
In the first fight between the two, Holloway struggled to find any momentum at the start. This time, however, the “Blessed” one would go in and out, connecting on deep shots that would affect the positioning of Volkanovski. A flurry of shots would help Holloway eventually land hard rights. Muli-punch combinations would end up helping him as the round came to a close.
Holloway would continue to move forward in round two as Volkanovski tried hitting overhand shots. The former champion would hit kicks to the face as he dropped Volkanovski a few times. His strike output looked strong, at least for the first few minutes.
Another knockdown! 😱
— UFC (@ufc) July 12, 2020
By the third round, Volkanovski was showing a sense of urgency. He hit a solid left hand and a shot to the face of Holloway. Holloway would be able to counter with kicks and knees to the body. By round four, Volkanovski was reaching and landing clear shots to a bleeding Holloway. Volkanovski would eventually land a double undertook takedown but Holloway got right back up, which he was able to do several times throughout the fight.
Holloway wanted to kick it into high gear so he would hit swift kicks and would continue to avoid the takedown game. Over eight takedown attempts were offered and Holloway managed to avoid all of them. Holloway landed a huge right but Volkanovski came back with one of his own. Holloway landed a combination and while Volkanovski put him down, Holloway got back up again. Volkanovski would hit Holloway in the face and would land one final takedown before the fight ended.
— UFC (@ufc) July 12, 2020
Volkanovski, a 34-year-old former rugby player, has now won nineteen in a row dating back to 2013. The end result was deemed controversial by many.
Following a thirteen-fight win streak, Holloway is now 1-3 in his last four fights. Losing to Dustin Poirier for the interim UFC Featherweight Title, Holloway beat Franke Edgar at UFC 240. He lost to Volkanovski at UFC 245 in December, ending a title reign that had four defenses.