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UFC 251 results: Alexander Volkanovski retains title with razor-close split decision over Max Holloway

UFC 251: Volkanovski v Holloway Photo by Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC

Alexander Volkanovski didn’t have an easy night at the office but he’s still leaving UFC 251 with the featherweight title around his waist.

After surviving a couple of early knockdowns, Volkanovski staged a comeback to surge ahead of Max Holloway in the later rounds before earning a hard fought split decision victory. All three judges scored the contest 48-47 with two giving Volkanovski the nod as he retains the belt in his first title defense.

“Tough fight,” Volkanovski said after his hand was raised. “Max brought it. He made it tough for me early in the rounds. I got the job done, that’s the main thing. I had to win that last round.

“I got the job done. Nobody can out do me in there.”

There was definitely an adjustment in the strategy from the first fight to the rematch for Holloway as he was the aggressor throughout the opening round. He was connecting with his combinations including an early right hand that wobbled Volkanovski.

Always the showman, Holloway danced a bit in front of Volkanovski after recognizing that the punch definitely hurt him. Holloway’s confidence continued to grow and just before the horn sounded at the close of the first round, he uncorked a head kick that put Volkanovski down to his knee before going back to his corner to recoup.

Well known for his output, Holloway continued to crank up the volume with multi-punch combinations as well as a glancing kick that appeared just inches away from taking Volkanovski’s head off.

Much like the first round, Holloway closed the second with another flash knockdown courtesy of a stiff uppercut that caught Volkanovski off guard.

While he was down early, Volkanovski wasn’t going to give up his title without a serious fight. A major weapon in their first meeting, Volkanovski started to use an inside leg kick that resulted in a giant red welt on Holloway’s thigh.

Volkanovski continued to keep it close as he began matching Holloway in significant strikes landed, which gave the judges an even tougher call when scoring the fight round by round. Volkanovski even managed to mix in a couple of takedowns, although he struggled to keep Holloway on the mat for more than just a few seconds.

Knowing he was down after the first two rounds, Volkanovski continuously pushed the pace during the final 15 minutes to reclaim the momentum and ultimately get the nod by split decision.

With two wins over Holloway now, it seems unlikely that Volkanovski will see him again soon but it seems almost impossible that a trilogy couldn’t happen somewhere down the road. For now, Volkanovski will enjoy the win as he awaits the next featherweight contender to try and take the title away from him.

“I definitely want to get another one in [this year],” Volkanovski said. “I like to stay active. I’m one of the champions chasing the contenders.”

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