UFC 245: Can Volkanovski Shock the World Against Holloway?

Max Holloway UFC
Max Holloway, UFC 240 Official Weigh-in Credit: Jay Anderson/Cageside Press

Max Holloway is within striking distance of sweeping the featherweight division, but the powerful Alexander Volkanovski is looking to shock the world at UFC 245.

For the past several years, the featherweight division has been Max Holloway’s world.  With ten straight victories to get to the title, and now three consecutive title defenses, Holloway has officially transcended one era of the weight class and is now looking to dominate another.  Along the way, he has carved out a place for himself among the fanbase.  He remains the most outspoken supporter of bringing the UFC to his home state of Hawaii.  Should one want to sound optimistic in the face of misfortune, he is quickly referenced with his most familiar phrase “It is what it is.

Perhaps the most obvious indicator of his greatness at 145 pounds is that fans question what could possibly be next with a victory.  “The Korean Zombie” Chan Sung Jung is the frontrunner should he be victorious next week while ranked contenders Yair Rodriguez and Zabit Magomedsharipov are just behind him.  Holloway has said he remains open to fighting again at 155 pounds, although another title shot is unlikely to materialize unless major misfortune were to strike (again).

Alexander “The Great” Volkanovski is part of the new generation that has emerged in the featherweight division.  The Australian native is an impressive 20-1 in his career and is currently on a 17 fight win-streak that includes seven fights in the Octagon.  Volkanovski has put together an impressive set of back-to-back performances in stopping former two-time title challenger Chad Mendes and longtime former champion José Aldo, the latter coming in Aldo’s home country of Brazil.

An added element to the fight is that Volkanovski was forced to wait several months for his shot at the title following the fight with Aldo.  In July, the UFC and Holloway went with former champion Frankie Edgar over Volkanovski for a shot at the title at UFC 240 despite the former having not competed in over a year due to injury.  After Holloway defeated Edgar, there was speculation that the fight with Volkanovski could happen at UFC 243 at the massive Marvel Stadium in Australia.  While the fight remains a part of one of the most stacked cards of the year, it has been a long-time coming for “The Great” after defeating a Brazilian legend who in the UFC had only ever lost to other champions.

Much has been made about the lack of a reach advantage for Holloway despite being the taller fighter, but the challenge for Volkanovski will be to do damage when he gets within range.  Holloway is a fantastic fighter when it comes to using his footwork and boxing to hit opponents with high volume.  The challenger will need to mix-up his attack, using kicks and threatening with takedowns, to throw off Holloway and make him a more stationary target.  For the champion, the key will be to get in-and-out with stinging punches and avoid getting corralled against the fence where he has less space to move out of the way.

After Holloway’s dominance at featherweight, an immediate rematch would be a given should Volkanovski pull-off the upset.  Should the champion add to his resume, the question becomes whether another fight at 145 makes the most sense as opposed to another move to 155 where he likely would have to fight a top contender rather than a title shot as he did earlier this year.