UFC 251: Usman vs. Masvidal took place July 11 at Yas Island in Abu Dhabi. Former UFC champion Max Holloway (21-6) and UFC featherweight champion Alexander Volkanovski (22-1) battled in a featherweight contest, which aired live on ESPN+ pay-per-view. Catch more video highlights below.
For more on Holloway vs. Volkanovski, check out the live blog by MMA Fighting’s Jed Meshew.
Round 1: Holloway takes the center to start with Volkanovski moving around the outside. The first minute is a big feeling out process with neither man getting particularly close to each other. Still a lot of patience from both men two minutes in without either throwing anything truly significant. Holloway does appear to have more of a boxing stance but the first good shot is a leg kick from the champion. Holloway responds with a pretty good head kick. Volkanovski is now chipping away with inside leg kicks and a good shot lands for Volkanovski up high. With 90 seconds left, this is anyone’s round and Holloway is now pressuring more and lands a sharp right hand that stumbles Volkanovski for a brief moment. Max mocks his wobble and things are getting interesting. As Holloway starts pressuring more though Volkanovski is now landing more counters and still chipping away with low kicks. Spinning back kick for Holloway lands wiht 10 seconds left and then a high kick from Holloway clips Volkanovski! The champion is dropped to a knee but gets back up quickly and the horn ends the round.
MMAFighting scores the round 10-9 Holloway.
Round 2: Volkanovski looks no worse for wear to start the round but Holloway has clearly set a different tone tonight than in their first encounter. Volkanovski right back to work with low leg kicks. Holloway bringing the pressure though and lands a leg kick of his own. Volkanovski tries to step in and eats a big combo from Holloway. Volkanovski has a mouse under his left eye and looks way more uncomfortable than we’ve ever see him. Meanwhile, Holloway’s defense has been on point but as I type that, Volkanovski lands his best combo of the fight. Holloway is now targeting the lead leg of Volkanovski and still marching forward. Volkanovski still dedicated to his own leg kicks but Holloway lands a jumping knee to Volkanovski as he steps in. Now Volkanovski is pressuring a bit more. Good left hook from Volkanovski lands. Both men are throwing a lot but neither is throwing with much power. Volkanovski lands a strong body kick. Holloway nearly misses a big head kick. Volkanovski charges in with 10 seconds left and Max drops him with an uppercut! Volkanovski is up immediately and the round ends.
MMAFighting scores the round 10-9 Holloway, 20-18 overall.
Round 3: Both rounds were competitive but Holloway locked up the first two rounds by dropping the champion near the end and Volkanovski comes out with more urgency in the third. Holloway is looking sharp though and lands a jumping knee on Volkanovski. Volkanovski is jus tnot landing enough. Everything he lands is pitty-pat and Max is lading more. Volkanovski drives in on a takedown and forces Holloway to the fence. Holloway is doing a great job of fighting him off though and Max lands a knee and straight right when they finally break. Volkanovski bragged about having other weapons coming into this fight and it’s time he dipped into that bad because Max is starting to build a lead. Volkanovski can’t get inside though and Holloway lands a head kick. Short-time and Volkanovski is bringing much more pressure now but can’t land he big strikes.
MMAFighting scores the round 10-9 Holloway, 30-27 overall.
Round 4: Holloway staring to show a little more damage now and both men come out firing to start the championship rounds. Volkanovski is staying committed to the low kicks but Holloway is still moving okay despite his leg showing the damage. Volkanovski charges in and Max goes for a counter knee. Max’s right hand has been sharp tonight as well. Volkanovski steps in and Holloway lands an uppercut and right hand that stuns Volkanovski! The champion recovers quickly but he was clearly hit A wild exchange ensues and Volkanovski gets underhooks and scores a takedown. Holloway gets up quickly though and they’re back to Max going to work on the outside. Volkanovski still working tthe legs and Holloway is now maybe showing the effects. Volkanovski shoots again but Max defends it and makes him pay. Volkanovski now drawing Hollowauy into more of a brawl and he’s having success but he needs more. Another exchange to end the round and Holloway nearly misses a huge uppercut.
MMAFighting scores the round 10-9 Volkanovski, 39-37 Holloway overall.
Round 5: This fight has been a mirror image of their first encounter: competitive but Holloway is in control. And the last round begins much like the rest, with low kicks and combos. Volkanovski has more urgency though and the men are throwing even more in the pocket, but Volkanovski can’t land the big shot. Volkanovski has a good entry and forces Max to the fence but Holloway defends. He does eat a big left hand on the break though. Volkanovski goes for a takedown and then lands a left. Max steps in and Volkanovski lands a big counter left, his best of the fight. Max is trying to pressure now but he’s eating more shots as a result. Volkanovski has twice feinted low and landed a sharp left hand over the top now. Holloway with a good combo. This round is incredibly even. Max lands a big 1-2. Volkanovski goes for a takedown, Max defends , but Volkanovski scores and inside trip and gets Max to the floor. Holloway just stands right back up again though. Good combo from Volkanovski but it may well be too little too late. Another takedown from Volkanovski who is trying to make a statement to end this fight. Volkanovski lands a big left hand. Volkanovski now seems to have found his rhythm. Volkanovski shoots again and Holloway stuffs if. Max still pressuring but he’s getting caught a lot now. Another clinch and with short time Max tries to score a trip but Volkanovski switches it and ends up in top half-guard as the bell sounds.
MMAFighting scores the round 10-9 Volkanovski, 48-47 Holloway overall.
OFFICIAL DECISION: Alexander Volkanovski defeats Max Holloway by split decision, 48-47, 47-48, 48-47.