Max Holloway may not be champion, but he’s still one of the best featherweights in the sport — and he proved that yet again in the UFC Kansas City main event.
After falling to Alexander Volkanovski for the third time, many wondered if perhaps Holloway was ready to pass the torch to the next generation of contenders, starting with Arnold Allen, who came into their fight riding 10 UFC wins in a row. But Holloway sent a rather emphatic reminder that he’s not going anywhere, putting on a vintage performance Saturday to wrap up a unanimous decision victory over five hard-fought rounds.
Holloway even managed to rattle off a late flurry that helped him score a knockdown on Allen just before the final horn sounded.
The official scorecards read 49-46, 49-47, and 48-47, with Holloway getting the nod and putting himself right back in the title picture at 145 pounds.
RIGHT TO THE BELL #UFCKansasCity pic.twitter.com/mJjMVufAob— ESPN MMA (@espnmma) April 16, 2023
“Arnold Allen hits like a truck,” Holloway said of his opponent. “My modeling career is in jeopardy because of you.
“It was like 10 seconds, five seconds [left in the fight], it was a re-enactment of Ricardo Lamas [fight]. I know he saw that moment, I wanted to remake that moment. It was fun. Dude is durable, he wanted to go all the way and I welcome that.”
It didn’t take long for Holloway to start dishing out punches with his signature volume striking attack, firing off two and three shots in succession. Allen answered back with a huge left hook early in the opening round, but Holloway shrugged it off and just kept firing back.
Holloway was slick with his combinations as he stayed fast on his feet as well, with Allen chasing him and looking to connect with power. Several times, Allen cracked Holloway with a stiff left hand that continued to catch Holloway off guard.
As time began ticking away towards the end of the second round, Holloway started concentrating more on body shots, including a straight punch followed by a nasty kick that reverberated throughout the arena.
While Allen was still aggressive, Holloway landed with the crisper strikes as he continued to display superior speed along with a variety of strikes. Holloway’s body work continued to pay dividends as well, as the thudding shots were just bouncing off Allen’s midsection.
Holloway was just consistently dishing out more punishment, especially with his ability to throw and connect with his strikes and then move out of the way before Allen could fire back at him effectively. Allen was still dangerous with the same left hand that gave Holloway headaches early the fight.
With five minutes remaining, Allen’s coaches urged him to swing for the fences to score a finish rather than letting the fight go to the scorecards, so he came after Holloway with everything left in his arsenal. Holloway ate a few punches, but he was happy to step into those exchanges and snap off counter strikes that continued to pop Allen in the mouth.
Allen also saw his rib cage lit up like a Christmas tree as Holloway continued to chip away at the body with a barrage of kicks. Still, Allen gunned for the knockout in every second of the final round as he looked to turn the tables in those closing moments. Holloway was more than happy to trade him punch-for-punch, including the final sequence which saw him drop Allen to the ground momentarily before the featherweights embraced following their 25-minute war.
With the win, Holloway eliminates another potential contender in the featherweight division as he anxiously awaits the upcoming title fight between Volkanovski and Yair Rodriguez later this year. As for Allen, he was understandably upset with the loss, although he still had nothing but praise for Holloway following the fight.
“Max has been around a long time, he’s been one of the best in the world for a long time,” Allen said. “He inspires me.”