- Date & Location: Saturday, July 11 @ Yas Island in Abu Dhabi, UAE
- Odds: Alexander Volkanovski -205, Max Holloway +165
- Prediction: Volkanovski by decision
On July 11, Alexander Volkanovski makes the first defense of his UFC featherweight title when he faces the man he defeated to earn UFC gold, Max Holloway, in the co-main event of UFC 251.
Volkanovski maintained an unblemished UFC record (8-0) when he defeated Holloway by unanimous decision in the co-main event of UFC 245, which took place in December. Neither man has stepped into the octagon since their first meeting.
Holloway, who is the No. 1-ranked fighter in the official UFC featherweight rankings, was on a 14-fight featherweight winning streak before Volkanovski defeated him.
VOLKANOVSKI VS HOLLOWAY II ODDS
VOLKANOVSKI VS HOLLOWAY II PREDICTION & PICK
Volkanovski wants to prove a point at UFC 251. The 145-pound champ wants to make the UFC and its fans believe that Holloway lost the first time the two met in December.
“They don’t want to believe that Max lost,” Volkanovski told Fox Sports. “Does he deserve the rematch? We don’t know,” Volkanovski continued. “A few months ago we were like, ‘No, he doesn’t. What’s the point?’
“But right now it’s bigger than that. It’s the biggest fight for me, biggest fight for my profile, and this is how I’m going (to) get everyone’s respect by putting him away, finishing him inside the five, so that’s my goal.”
Eugene Bareman, who helped Volkanovski prepare for the bout, called the first meeting a “shut out.”
I agree with Bareman. Volkanovski dominated the fight. Facing a height disadvantage, Volkanovski relied heavily on leg kicks to even things up and take the win.
Volkanovski said his plan is to finish Holloway in the rematch. I don’t see that happening, but I believe Volkanovski will keep his title in Abu Dhabi.
Pick: Volkanovski (-205)
BETTING VALUE WITH VOLKANOVSKI
I’m not sold on Volkanovski’s ability to knockout Holloway. I’m also not sold on the fact that his team will put a plan in place for him to pursue a knockout in this matchup.
Yes, Volkanovski has 11 career knockout wins, but only three have come since he joined the UFC. If he earns a knockout win over Holloway, it will be the first fight the former champ has ever lost in that manner.
My gut tells me that Volkanovski will not fight with a knockout in mind. The safe bet here is a decision win for the current champion.
WHO HAS THE EDGE?
Both fighters are extremely talented, but where Volkanovski has the edge is in planning and execution. Eugene Bareman, the coach at Auckland’s City Kickboxing, is not Volkanovski’s head coach, but he has input into the champ’s camp. One thing we have seen over the past few years is that Bareman is an MMA mastermind. He is one of the best game planners in the sport right now and any fighter who works with him is better for it.
I don’t expect Volkanovski to employ the same style he did when these two first met. I expect Bareman and his team will make improvements to the champion’s approach and that will provide Volkanovski with an advantage.
Since he broke into the rankings with a win over Darren Elkins in 2018, Volkanovski has defeated Chad Mendes, who challenged for UFC gold three times, Jose Aldo, the longest reigning UFC featherweight champion and Holloway. Depending on your opinion of the Holloway fight, Volkanovski has not lost a single round during that run.
Holloway is on the roughest run of his career. He lost an interim lightweight title fight to Dustin Poirier, defeated Frankie Edgar and then lost to Volkanovski. Holloway is only 28, but he has put some miles on his body. Holloway is already the all-time leader in the UFC 145-pound division in total fight time at 4:32:00.
FIGHT STATS: VOLKANOVSKI VS HOLLOWAY II
|Alexander Volkanovski||Category||Max Holloway|
|6.15||Significant Strikes Landed Per Minute||6.66|
|3.14||Significant Strikes Absorbed Per Minute||4.45|
|2.16||Takedown Average Per 15 Minutes||0.24|
|0.40||Submission Average Per 15 Minutes||0.4|
WHAT’S AT STAKE
As we can see from his comments, Volkanovski wants to put any doubt about his first win over Holloway in the past. If he can get a second victory over the former champion, Volkanovski will put Holloway in his rearview mirror and erase any doubt of his legitimacy as UFC champion.
I don’t believe that anyone things Holloway’s best days are behind him, but if there are fans out there who might have doubts of Holloway’s staying power as a top featherweight competitor, regaining his title would be a good way to put those questions to rest.