After falling in two consecutive decision losses to Alexander Volkanovski (25-1), Max Holloway (23-7) had to earn his way back into UFC featherweight contention. He needed decision victories over Calvin Kattar and Yair Rodriguez to show he could still hang with the top of the division. But Saturday night at UFC 276 from T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, it was Volkanovski all over again as the featherweight champion successfully defended his belt via unanimous decision.
Holloway and Volkanovski spent much of the first round feeling each other out, testing their range and trying to find openings. Late in the opening round, the champion began to let his hands fly, waiting for Holloway to attack before ripping combinations. The last minute of the frame saw Volkanovski gain confidence, but Holloway quickly woke up and started to chip away at the champ.
Holloway never quite adjusted to Volkanovski‘s pace, despite walking his opponent around the cage. Volkanovski‘s counter strikes continued to pick apart Holloway late in the round, with a short hook opening a cut on Holloway.
The third was much of the same, with Holloway simply unable to cope with Volkanovski‘s hand speed and counter strike ability. Volkanovski peppered Holloway with jab after jab, putting combinations together as the challenger jumped in with strike attempts and opening up the gash above his left eye even further. Toward the end of the round, Holloway caught Volkanovski with a nice slew of shots of his own to open a cut in the center of the champ’s head.
Knowing he was down in the fourth, Holloway came out aggressively in the fourth, but still had trouble making the champ uncomfortable. Volkanovski again and again wore down Holloway with blistering jabs and punishing hooks and uppercuts.
In the fifth and final round, Holloway attempted a takedown early, but ended up in a body lock against the Octagon. For his part, Volkanovski Didn’t just coast through the final round, but continued to stand in and toss hands with Holloway until the final buzzer en route to all three judges scoring the fight 50-45 in his favor.
Heading into the main event Saturday night, Volkanovski had successfully defended the title twice outside of his win over Holloway, with a decision win over Brian Ortega and a TKO against the Korean Zombie. With his third defeat of Holloway, it’s hard to imagine the challenger getting a fourth shot at Volkanovski anytime soon.