MMAOB staff writer Adam Martin takes a deeper look at the co-main event of UFC 276, a five-round featherweight title trilogy bout between champion Alexander Volkanovski and challenger Max Holloway. The event takes place on Saturday, July 2 at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada.
Alexander Volkanovski (-190)
Volkanovski (24-1) is the UFC featherweight champion. The 33-year-old Aussie is a perfect 11-0 in the UFC with notable wins over Max Holloway twice, Brian Ortega, The Korean Zombie, and Jose Aldo. He has proven himself to be one of the best pound-for-pound fighters in the sport, one who is capable of beating his opponents both in the standup and the grappling. He has leveled up in his last few fights as he is showing off a very well-rounded game and he is incredibly dangerous anywhere the fight goes. Volkanovski is getting to the point where he is clearly the best featherweight and may attempt to move up to lightweight. But he first has to get past Holloway, and after their competitive rematch in 2020, this fight is not a gimme by any means.
Max Holloway (+165)
Holloway (23-6) is the No. 1 contender in the UFC featherweight division. The 30-year-old American is 19-6 overall in the UFC and he has notable wins over the likes of Yair Rodriguez, Calvin Kattar, Frankie Edgar, Brian Ortega, Jose Aldo twice, and Charles Oliveira. Holloway is the former featherweight champ and he’s one of the best fighters in the sport regardless of weight. He is so dangerous on the feet and has some of the best boxing we’ve ever seen in MMA. That being said, he has taken a ton of damage in his career and it’s possible he’s finally slowing down a bit. Of course, he can shut up the doubters if he’s able to beat Volkanovski in this trilogy fight. But given he’s already lost twice to the champ, despite how close the second fight was, it’s an uphill climb for Holloway, and that’s why he opened up as the underdog here.
Fight Breakdown: Even though I thought Holloway edged out the second fight between these two, he still lost on the judges’ scorecards. Since that rematch, it feels like Volkanovski has only gotten better, beating Ortega and then destroying The Korean Zombie, while Holloway looked amazing against Kattar before having an average performance against Rodriguez. I still think Holloway is a great fighter, but it sure feels like he has regressed slightly, while I believe Volkanovski has only improved. The first fight between Volkanovski and Holloway was not close and even despite the second fight being very competitive, I believe this trilogy fight looks more like the first meeting between these two featherweight legends. Look for Volkanovsk to be a little sharper than Holloway in the striking department and edge out a decision once again to defend his belt. While it should be a competitive fight, it’s hard not to side with Volkanovski given that he already has two wins over Holloway. Either way, it should be an awesome trilogy fight for the fans to watch and enjoy.
Prediction: Alexander Volkanovski