Alexander Volkanovski retains his title; defeats Max Holloway by split decision

Alexander Volkanovski (left) and Max Holloway (right) exchange punches at UFC 251.

Alexander Volkanovski retains his title; defeats Max Holloway by split decision

UFC 251 marks a historic card for the UFC as they will hold their first ever event on “Fight Island” in Yas Island, Abu Dhabi.

Not only will the event be unique due to its outside beach venue, but it will also be just the sixth card in UFC history to feature three championship fights.

The main event will be a welterweight title bout between champion Kamaru Usman and fan favorite Jorge Masivdal. In the co-main event, featherweight champion Alexander Volkanovski will face Max Holloway in a rematch of their December fight in which Volkanovski won by unanimous decision. Prior to those fights, Petr Yan and Jose Aldo will square off to fight for the vacant bantamweight championship.

Taking a deeper look at the co-main event, Volkanovski (21-1) will look to make his first title defense. The former rugby player has been confident in the lead up to this fight. Throughout fight week the Australian has been saying that he’s looking to finish Holloway.

As for Holloway (21-5), he’s looking to show why many consider him to be the greatest featherweight of all time. Prior to his loss to Volkanovski in December, the Hawaiian won 14 straight fights at 145 pounds. Holloway is convinced that he won their first fight and now he wants to leave “Fight Island” as champion. One interesting note about Holloway, is that due to the COVID-19 pandemic, he said that he did not spar during training camp and he mostly met with his coaches via zoom.

Here’s a breakdown of the co-main event with round-by-round scoring.

Round 1

Volkanovski goes to leg kick early. That sounds familiar doesn’t it? New fight same game plan early on.

Holloway standing long, but Volkanovski lands another leg kick.

Two minutes in, not a lot of action. Holloway starting to get a but more active, but nothing exciting in the opening frame so far.

Volkanovski comes forward and Holloway lands a nice upper cut.

Two minutes left in the round and Holloway’s lead leg is red. Volkanovski then finds the leg yet again.

Volkanovski another leg kick, but Holloway counter with a straight right that lands and catches Volkanovski’s attention. As Volkanovski backs away and you can see that his eye is marked up from that punch.

Round was close until Holloway steals the round when lands a huge leg kick that sends Volkanovski to the canvas. Beautiful kick. Solid connection. Great ending for the former champ.

MyMMANews scores it 10-9 Holloway

Round 2

Holloway looked confident to start out round two.

Volkanovski goes to the legs kicks early, but Holloway shakes them off and lands a great shot. Volkanovski is feeling these shots.

Holloway lands a nice leg kick now. A lot more action here in round two as we’re half way through the round. Holloway is controlling the center of the octagon, controlling the pace and is the more polished striker.

Volkanovski has a lot of swelling under his left eye from all the nice sharpe straight shots from Holloway.

Volkanovski lands a leg kick and follows with another kick as we come to the final minute of the round.

In the last minute, Volkanovski is getting more active and it almost cost him. Holloway just missed on another head kick.

Final 15 seconds and Volkanovski finds himself down again. This time Holloway catches Alexander Volkanovski coming in with a perfectly timed uppercut.

MyMMANews scores it 10-9 Holloway.

Round 3

Both guys are in great shape. Nobody is breathing heavy. Still in terms of input it’s all Holloway.

Holloway goes for a flying knee and it partially lands.

Volkanovski is trying to close the distance and he’s starting to throw with more power.

Volkanovski shoots in for the takedown and Holloway stuffs it, but the two go into the clinch with Holloway against the fence.

After a few moments in the clinch, it breaks with Holloway landing a nice knee.

The inside of Holloway’s lead leg is bright red as we coming to final minute of the third round.

Volkanovski lands a kick right on the red spot on the inside of Holloway’s leg. The Australian is really coming forward and lands a great jab. He follows up with a few more shots. Definitely Volkanovski’s best round. He was more active and controlled the pace.

MyMMANews scores 10-9 Volkanovski.

Round 4

Inside leg kick for Volkanovski to start the round. Volkanovski with another nice jab and it busts up Holloway’s nose. While blood is coming from Holloway’s nose, he’s still in the pocket and throwing.

Volkanovski lands two more leg kicks. Good start to the championship rounds for the current champ.

Now Volkanovski lands a short lead hook and follows with a punch to the body.

Holloway has his best momentum of the round right after with a nice uppercut.

Just under two minutes in the round, Volkanovski scores a takedown, but Holloway shoots right back up. While Volkanovski’s takedown didn’t affect Holloway, it still will stand out to the judges.

Volkanovski with another nice lead hook and then follows with a jab a few seconds later. Holloway lands a nice right at the end of the round. Close round. We have ourselves a dog fight.

MyMMANews scores it 10-9 Alexander Volkanovski.

Round 5

Holloway goes for the high kick to start off the round.

Holloway getting busy and lands a few nice punches. Then follows with another high kick.

Volkanovski goes in for a takedown and doesn’t come close. A brief clinch, but Holloway comes out of it with no problems.

Holloway controlling the pace this round and lands a few nice punches at the halfway point of the round.

Volkanovski finds the mark and then scores a takedown. Holloway gets up from the takedown quickly.

Volkanovski is feeling the pressure and is picking up the tempo. He tries for another takedown and is denied.

Final minute Holloway is pushing forward. Volkanovski going for another takedown and is stuffed again.

Holloways lands a shot and then Volkanovski finally secures a takedown in the final five seconds. Another good round by both fighters. Striking numbers were close.

Great fight. Holloway feels like he’s got it this time.

MyMMANews scores it 10-9 Holloway.

MyMMANews scores it 48-47 Holloway.

Official Decision: Alexander Volkanovski defeats Max Holloway by split decision (48-47, 47-48, 48-47)

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