Alexander Volkanovski defends his title against Max Holloway at UFC 251 in an incredibly close decision reminiscent of their last bout. This is Volkanovski’s first defense as champion.
Round one showed us that the blessed era might not be over with Holloway. A slow start from both sides sees a leg kick from Volkanovski answered with a head kick from Blessed. Controlling the center and slipping Volkanovski’s offence, Holloway finds the chin with combos with his trademark ease. Ending the round with a thunderous right head kick, felling the champ just before the buzzer.
Round two saw the champ fail to gain back octagon control from Holloway. Sticking to leg kicks, Volkanovski eats a leg kick in turn from Holloway. Landing a big combo, Holloway continues to outpace the champ for most of the round. Landing a flying knee, Holloway eats a combo from Volkanovski before dropping him with a big uppercut at the end of the round.
Round three sees the two pick up the pace but Holloway still controlling the middle. Neither seems to move out of the pocket, exchanging careful shots at every opportunity. Max lands more powerful blows, and the champ fails to answer in kind. A late headkick sends the round seemingly to Holloway.
Round four sees the champ shift gears with a lot more speed. Holloway slips through and lands another big knee on the champ. Holloway lands another right uppercut to stun Volkanovski. Volkanovski recovers and manages a takedown on the nearly un-downable Holloway, but he quickly stands up to resume the striking. Holloway starts to feel the leg kicks, but manages a big shot after defending another takedown. Round ends with a narrow miss from Holloway.
Round five sees the champ finally pull ahead in areas, gaining octagon control and forcing Holloway to the edge. Landing more big counter lefts, Volkanovski begins finding more success in the grappling with a quick body lock trip before the champ stands again. Lands a big combo late followed by a left, but Holloway is still as game as ever. A final takedown attempt from Holloway backfires as Volkanovski reverses with a throw of his own, landing in top side control. The round ends, and the Champ is awarded the decision.
This brings Holloway’s record to 22-1 and Holloway to 21-6.