Alexander Volkanovski Deserves Respect

RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL - MAY 11: (L-R) Alexander Volkanovski of Australia punches Jose Aldo of Brazil in their featherweight bout during the UFC 237 event at Jeunesse Arena on May 11, 2019 in Rio De Janeiro, Brazil. (Photo by Buda Mendes/Zuffa LLC/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images)

Alexander “The Great” Volkanovski (20-1) is taking on UFC Featherweight Champion Max Holloway (21-4) for the Featherweight title at UFC 245 in Las Vegas on the 15th of December. While Holloway is hoping for his fourth successful title defence he is possibly facing the biggest threat to his throne yet. 

Volkanovski Offers Threats Edgar Did Not

That being said a lot of Mixed Martial Arts media and the fans are overlooking Volkanovski in favour of more flashy prospects like Zabit Magomedsharipov (18-1). A lot of this has to do with Holloway’s successful defence against perennial top contender Frankie Edgar (23-7). Comparisons between Volkanovski and Edgar are easy to make. They are short for the division and are known for their wrestling and boxing. 

In Holloway’s title defence against Edgar he was able to use his footwork and cage awareness to avoid Edgar’s takedowns. Keeping the fight on the feet, Holloway managed to outstrike Edgar with ease. One might think this does not bode well for Volkanovski since Edgar is the far more accomplished wrestler who has mastered mixing in strikes with takedowns. That is until we consider Volkanovski’s fight with Jose Aldo (28-5) at UFC 237 in Brazil.

Volkanovski Proved His Intelligence Against Aldo

The MMA community largely considers Aldo as the greatest featherweight of all time (unless Joe Rogan is hyping up Holloway). Aldo had consistently beaten all comers to his throne for six successful defences. Edgar had fought Aldo twice coming up short on both occasions. Edgar was unable to find an answer to Aldo’s pivots when coming at him. 

Volkanovski managed to undo the former champion by using feints to keep Aldo guessing. Using leg kicks at distance, Volkanovski forced Aldo into making exchanges and to prevent him from taking breaks. Faints and low kicks are not a part of Volkanovski’s game, but he was able to switch things up to match the habits of Aldo. What will matter most for the Holloway fight is the fact that Volkanovski could cut the cage on Aldo and force his back against the fence. Once at the fence, he used clinch as a way of keeping Aldo from using his excellent pivots.

Volkanovski managed to systematically dismantle Aldo’s game, something no wrestler has been able to do before, and while Holloway has far greater cage awareness and footwork than Aldo, it will be interesting to see if Volkanovski can keep him against the cage. Another thing in Volkanovski’s favour is the fact that he has power in his hands, something Edgar isn’t known for. Holloway needs momentum to win and a proven way of disrupting that is hitting him really hard when he comes in. Dustin Poirier (25-6) proved this in their interim Lightweight title fight. Edgar was able to tag Holloway multiple times during their fight, although Holloway was able to eat them like breakfast. If Volkanovski can land, Holloway will have to go on the back foot, where his game is more limited.

New Featherweight Champ?

At UFC 245 on December 15 in Las Vegas, Max Holloway defends his title against his biggest threat to date. You all should remember the name: Alex “The Great” Volkanovski as he may just be the next Featherweight champion.

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