Max Holloway and Alexander Volkanovski are two of the most high-level mixed martial artist we have ever seen, with each having multiple impressive title reigns in the Featherweight division. These two men have spent ten close rounds across from one another in the Octagon and are set for five more on July 2 second at UFC 276 from T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada. Each meeting has been a competitive fight, with the second fight being one of the most debated scorecards ever among the Verdict community. Each fight tells a different story and shows how perfectly matched these two are.
The first fight is considered the much more clear of the two fights, with Volkanovski taking home the unanimous decision win with the judges in agreement with the Verdict Community, who gave every round to Volkanovski. Early in their first encounter, we saw Volkanovski use leg kicks as an effective weapon to deter Max's pressure. The first three rounds gave a clear edge to Volkanovski as he was the one landing at a higher rate and with more power.
The fourth round was the closest round between the two fighters across both fights according to the Verdict Scorecards, with Volkanovski winning the round by as slim a margin as possible which is reflected by the stats which show Holloway landed more strikes in a round for the first time in the fight, however, it was only by a single strike. The fifth was another very close round which saw Volkanovski complete his victory taking home all five rounds on the Verdict Scorecards despite being outlanded in each of the last two rounds. Volkanovski may have an argument to have won every round, but the way Max was able to come on stronger later in the fight may have been a sign of things to come.
The second match between these two caused one of if not the biggest scoring controversy in the history of the sport, with Volkanovski getting the split decision nod. The story of this fight was much different than the first one as Holloway came out on fire scoring early knockdowns and taking home round one and two by a wide margin on the Verdict Scorecards. The third round is one of the closer rounds to call between these two as Holloway seemed to have all the momentum; however, it was this round that the tide began to turn, with Volkanovski landing ten more strikes than Holloway across the round. The Verdict Scorecards reflect the closeness of the third round, with just over half of the community giving Holloway the round; however, all three judges of the fight did score the round for Volkanovski. The fourth and fifth-round saw Volkanovski gain the clear edge, a reverse of the first fight where Holloway was the one coming on late as here we saw Volkanovski outland Holloway by ten or more strikes in each of the last three rounds.
The Verdict Scorecards had Holloway winning the bout, with the first two rounds being very clear and the later rounds being very close. Verdict scoring does much more to account for dominant rounds, which is reflected in this fight, with the first two rounds being so clear for Holloway despite the last three rounds leaving a solid argument for Volkanovski. Despite the Verdict cards, Volkanovski was the one to get his hand raised yet again as two of the three judges gave him the final three rounds. Interestingly enough, many may believe it was rounds three or four that would have won Holloway the fight; however, the judge who scored it in his favor gave him the fifth, which was Volkanovski's best round, according to the Verdict community.
These fighters have had two very technical battles in the past, and I expect another as both men have shown improvements to their game since the last meeting. The stakes do not get higher than this, as Volkanovski is the pound-for-pound number two fighter in the world and on the verge of cementing his legacy as the greatest Featherweight of all time. As for Holloway, his back is against the wall as losing to Volkanovski for the third time will undoubtedly end their rivalry and leave Holloway in an odd spot as far as the future of his UFC career at Featherweight.