The co-main event for UFC 276 was the setting where the promotion’s 145-pound king, Alexander Volkanovski, ran away with the scorecards against the former featherweight champ, Max Holloway — going up 3-0 in his trilogy with “Blessed.” From bell to bell, Alex has never looked so good against Max, seeming far too quick for Holloway to get the drop on him. The boxing of Volkanovski proved to be the kryptonite for Holloway, who appeared to be a step behind in each round. After securing three scores of 50-45, and running shop on his division, Volkanovski expressed a desire to move up in weight for a shot at the UFC’s lightweight title. Who wouldn’t want to see Volkanovski against the best at 155-pounds?
The third installment got underway with Holloway pushing the champ back and throwing a lot of feints. Volkanovski was moving backwards, and would dart in with his own strikes when he saw the opportunity. As the round went on, Volkanovski started to connect with his hands, and even started talking to the former champion saying he was ‘too fast’ for him. Max seemed to be a tick slower, and wasn’t reacting to the punches of Alex fast enough. Towards the end of the first, Holloway landed with his right hand a couple of times, and launched a spinning elbow at the bell.
The champion was getting off with his hands first in the second act. He was catching Max looking, and then would skirt back out of harms way. The fight drifted into the clinch for a stint, with Alex pressing Max against it, but Volkanovski elbowed his way out of it. Volkanovski then opened up a nasty cut on the left eyebrow of the challenger with a right hand. Holloway kept pressing forward, and started to put a head kick behind his punches.
The pressure continued to be there from Holloway in the third frame, but Volkanovski was doing a great job of countering. The hands of the champ continued to find a home, with his jab being his primary weapon. The clinched up again and jockeyed for position, until Volkanovski deployed a spinning elbow to break free. In open space, Alex continued to land the better punches, and Max still seeming a bit slow to respond.
The athletes clinched up to start the championship rounds, with Volkanovski pinning Holloway to the fence, but it quickly returned to open space. Max was finding success with his kicks, but wasn’t staying at that range. Whenever he got closer, Alex was right there to win the boxing exchanges. It was probably the best round for Holloway up until this point, but still likely the champ’s round.
Holloway opened the final round with a takedown attempt, but Volkanovski remained vertical, clinched up, and then went for a takedown of his own. Holloway stayed on his feet, too, and the striking battle continued. Max’s face was a bloody mess, as the cut around his eyebrow continued to leak. Alexander showed no signs of slowing down late in the fifth, and remained in control the entire time.