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UFC 245 results: Alexander Volkanovski dethrones Max Holloway, wins featherweight title by unanimous decision

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Esther Lin, MMA Fighting

Alexander Volkanovski promised he had the weapons to dethrone Max Holloway.

Now the former rugby player turned mixed martial artist will take the featherweight championship home to Australia after handing Holloway his first defeat at 145 pounds since Conor McGregor beat him all the way back in 2013.

Volkanvski earned the unanimous decision win with scorecards reading 48-47, 48-47 and 50-45 following a smart strategy that saw him chip away at Holloway’s foundation with leg kicks for the better part of all five rounds.

“This is what we do. I’ve got the good fight IQ and I got the job done. I’m going to stay champion for a long time,” Volkanovski said afterwards.

“He’s a great champion, nothing but respect. He’s one of the GOAT’s. I’ve took out two of the GOAT’s back to back. I’m going to be a great champion.”

For nearly 25 minutes, Volkanovski targeted Holloway’s lead leg with kicks both on the inside and outside in rapid fire succession.

Even when Holloway switched stances, Volkanovski just altered his attacks and went to the opposite leg while trying to crumble the champion’s foundation. It probably took more time than intended but Holloway finally started to connect with his combinations late in the second round while finding a home for his long, rangy punches.

The typical Holloway offense where he just chips away at his opponents with a relentless offensive attack wasn’t working as well thanks in large part to Volkanovski slowing him down with thudding kicks to the legs. It also didn’t help matters much that Holloway was stuck fighting southpaw for much of the fight because his left leg took so much damage.

Deep into the fourth round, Holloway started to land with more regularity with digs to the body and then volume punches to the head as welts started to form around Volkanovski’s eyes. Still, Volkanovski was smiling through almost every exchange, talking to Holloway and then throwing shots of his own in response.

By the time the fifth round was nearly expired, Volkanovski had cracked Holloway with more than 65 leg kicks, which really paid dividends in every other facet of his strategy. Even in the overall numbers, Volkanovski out struck Holloway in every round.

Volkanovski has now defeated Holloway and former champion Jose Aldo in back-to-back fights as he becomes the fourth different person to hold the featherweight title in UFC history.

As for Holloway, he kept his spirits high despite the outcome as he will undoubtedly look to get right back into the title hunt next year.

“I’m only 28. I’m only getting better,” Holloway said. “I’ll be back boys.”