Australia’s Alex Volkanovski has vowed to reign the UFC featherweight division for a long time after producing a master class to topple Max Holloway on a unanimous points decision in Las Vegas.
The 31-year-old from Windang, on the NSW South coast, became the first Australian-born fighter to win a UFC title, with New Zealand-born, Sydney-raised Robert Whittaker previously holding the middleweight title.
It ranks as one of the the greatest combat sports performances ever by an Australian, as 28-year-old American Holloway was universally regarded as the finest UFC featherweight of all-time. Holloway came into the fight holding a slew of records in the featherweight division, including most wins, most finishes, most knockouts and longest winning streak.
One judge gave every round to Volkanovski, scoring it 50-45 and the other two had the Australian winning 48-47. The Australian landed more strikes in each round and was particularly successful with kicks to the Hawaiian’s legs. Volkanovski is 8-0 in UFC contests and extended his MMA winning streak to 18 bouts and overall record to 21-1.
The Australian controlled the distance for much of the bout and also landed several meaty right-hand punches in addition to his relentless kicking assault. Holloway landed several good punches, but Volkanovski never allowed the Hawaiian to produce the non-stop pressure and high volume flurries that have made him a superstar.
“He (Holloway) is really good with his distance, he’s really good at sucking you into his range,” Volkanovski said. “I just had to make sure I had a good corner behind me directing me through. Sometimes I started going into his range where he was comfortable and they had to pull me up.
“I’m so composed. I’ve got the good fight IQ and I got the job done and I’m telling you, I’m going to stay champion for a long time.”
In his previous fight, Volkanovski outpointed Brazilian Jose Aldo, who was considered the greatest featherweight before Holloway.
‘He (Holloway) is one of the GOATs. I’ve taken out two of the GOATs back-to-back, that puts me right up there,” Volkanovski said. “They were great champions, but now I’m going to be a great champion.”
The two men found time and energy to talk to each other during the fight.
“I’d be lying if I said it wasn’t hurting my shins as well,” Volkanvoski said. “There was one that hurt me and he noticed and said, ‘ha that hurt you’ and I was like, ‘yeah yeah I’m good’, but he’s a great champion. I promise to be a great champion.”
In the other title fights on the UFC 245 card, welterweight champion Kamaru Usman scored a fifth-round stoppage of Colby Covington, and female featherweight and bantamweight titleholder Amanda Nunes scored a unanimous points win against Germaine De Randamie in a bantamweight tile defence.