This weekend’s UFC pay-per-view event is one of the very best of 2019. With three title fights at the top of the fight card including Kamaru Usman vs. Colby Covington for the welterweight title, Max Holloway vs. Alex Volkanovski for the featherweight strap, and Amanda Nunes vs. Germaine de Randamie for the women’s featherweight championship, there’s a lot to look forward to.
If you haven’t already, make sure to check out our Usman vs. Covington betting guide before we dive further into this exclusive look at Holloway vs. Volkanovski – which is arguably the most highly anticipated fight happening at UFC 245 this Saturday.
Read on for the best odds as well as our preview, analysis, and prediction for this UFC Featherweight Championship bout.
Max Holloway vs. Alexander Volkanovski
It’s not very often that a fighter coming off a recent defeat is still considered as one of the best pound-for-pound fighters in the sport, but that’s the situation right now as Holloway looks to make it two wins in a row in the featherweight division after a failed title fight against Dustin Poirier in April.
After a 14-fight winning streak at featherweight from 2014-2018, Holloway stepped up to challenge Poirier for an interim lightweight title and the chance to face Khabib Nurmagomedov in the future. Holloway was outclassed by Poirier on the night, but not by much, and many believe that the weight difference between the two fighters made it considerably more difficult for Holloway to get over the line.
In July, Holloway got back to winning ways rather easily against Frankie Edgar at UFC 240. He’ll now look to keep his featherweight run alive as he takes on the fast-rising challenger Alex Volkanovski.
Volkanovski’s climb to featherweight title contention has been one of the most impressive in recent years. The 31-year-old fighter from Australia has dominated his opponents on the back of his remarkable strength and power, using that to march forward and suffocate his opponents with relentless pressure. Wins over Darren Elkins and Chad Mendes eventually led to Volkanovski earning a shot against long-time former featherweight champion Jose Aldo, and Volkanovski ended up shocking many fans with a brilliant unanimous decision win.
Holloway is praised by many analysts and fans because of his elite boxing and intelligence inside the cage. Typically a slow starter, Holloway comes out of the gate and matches the pace of his opponent – rather than setting a pace of his own – and will begin looking for opportunities to cash in on in later rounds.
This was most evident against Jose Aldo as Holloway struggled in the opening five minutes of each fight before eventually finding his form in the middle rounds. One reason why Holloway takes over in the second, third, and fourth rounds is that his insane pace and pressure in those rounds starts to take its toll on the opponent. Aldo is another elite boxer by mixed martial arts standards but had no answers for Holloway as the fight went on, despite looking like the better fighter in the start of each fight.
Eventually, as Holloway begins to feel comfortable, he’ll settle into the fight and start overloading the opposing fighter with his excellent jab and creative techniques that come behind it. That jab may be the deciding factor for Holloway this weekend as he looks to keep his range and keep away from Volkanovski, who has proven to be more than a handful when he closes the distance inside the Octagon.
Holloway’s going to need to start working his jab and other punches to the head and body to punish Volkanovski for forward movement, but he’s also going to need to work the legs with kicks as well to really stop the momentum of the Australian fighter.
Volkanovski has never appeared as the most technically sound or proficient fighter in the featherweight division, however, his strength and wrestling ability is absurd. Although not renowned for his wrestling in the same way that other American athletes are, Volkanovski is a dangerous grappler with strong grips and an uncanny ability to drag his opponent to the mat and maintain dominant positions. Volkanovski doesn’t maul his opponent in the same way that lightweight champion Nurmagomedov does, but he is threatening on the ground and could use these positions to maintain control and win rounds.
The other pathway to victory for Volkanovski in this contest is everything else that happens at close range. Holloway was busted up by Poirier inside the pocket and Volkanovski may look to replicate those efforts at UFC 245. If Volkanovski can advance and force Holloway into a back-and-forth slugfest, rather than a technical stick-and-move scenario, the odds certainly start moving in Volkanovski’s favor.
Prediction: Alex Volkanovski to win by split decision
Bet: Alex Volkanovski to win +164 at SportBet
Bet explainer: No one has had an answer for Alex Volkanovski’s strength so far in the UFC. Although Holloway is certainly on another level, it remains to be seen how he – or anyone else – can deal with Volkanovski’s freakish abilities in the featherweight division right now.
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