The featherweight division has a new king on top after UFC 245. It took the full five rounds for Alexander Volkanovski to grind out a win over Max Holloway by unanimous decision. It was the end of the ‘Blessed Express’ as Volkanovski utilized a great game plan.
That game plan saw him prioritize the leg kicks in order to decrease the movement of Holloway. He landed nearly fifty percent of his total strikes to Holloway’s legs with 75 total leg strikes. For the most part, the fight was close. Volkanovski found most of his success in the first three rounds, out striking Holloway in all three. But Holloway was able to find some success of his own in the championship rounds, barely out striking Volkanovski in rounds four and five. While Holloway started to get in his groove late, it was not enough. Volkanovski was awarded the unanimous decision victory with two judges giving him three rounds and one judge giving him all five.
Alexander Volkanovski has now become the UFC’s first Australian born champion, but what’s next? He has not put the idea of an immediate rematch behind him. Both parties have interest and Volkanovski has said that if positions were flipped, Holloway would do the same for him. Along with Holloway, what other options at featherweight are there for Volkanovski? Next week’s UFC Fight Night 165 could be a big deciding factor as it features two top featherweights in the main event.
What’s Next for Alexander Volkanovski?
Of course, option number one will be the immediate rematch with Holloway. Holloway surely deserves it as he has proved he is one of the greatest featherweights of all time. Before capturing UFC gold for the first time, Holloway put together an impressive nine fight win streak. He captured wins over high level fighters like Jeremy Stephens, Cub Swanson, and Ricardo Lamas. He first captured gold in December 2016 at UFC 206 with a TKO win over former UFC lightweight champion, Anthony Pettis. The win crowned him the new interim featherweight champion, granting him a shot at the undisputed champion and MMA legend, Jose Aldo. It took Holloway only three rounds to get through Aldo and become the newly crowned featherweight champion.
After winning the title, he had successfully defended it three times before meeting Volkanovski. Among those title defenses included another TKO win over Aldo and a dominating TKO win over then undefeated, Brian Ortega. After the win over Ortega, Holloway would briefly move up to lightweight to challenge for the interim championship in a rematch with Dustin Poirier. After a hard fought battle, Holloway lost the decision and moved back down to 145 where he would face Frankie Edgar in his next title defense. Holloway would cruise to a unanimous decision victory that night, setting up his fourth defense against Volkanovski.
Again, Volkanovski is not opposed to the idea of an immediate rematch, claiming Holloway would do the same if he were in his shoes. After a close fight, it would make sense for the UFC to book an immediate rematch, also considering Holloway’s résumé as champion. UFC president Dana White is also interested, saying he would like Alexander Volkanovski vs. Max Holloway 2 to take place in Australia.
— Brett Okamoto (@bokamotoESPN) December 15, 2019
UFC Fight Night 165 Winner
With Holloway out as champion, Frankie Edgar could earn yet another shot at the belt. All he has to do is get through The Korean Zombie on December 21 at UFC Fight Night 165. Edgar is a legend of MMA and has fought some of the best fighters in the world, including Aldo, Holloway, BJ Penn, Urijah Faber, and many more. He has wins in three of his last five fights entering Saturday night.
The first of those wins came in 2016, at UFC 205 when he defeated Jeremy Stephens by unanimous decision. After that he would put on an absolutely dominant performance over an upcoming fighter at the time, Yair Rodriguez. Edgar would win that fight after two rounds due to a doctor’s stoppage after Rodriguez’s eye became swollen shut. The Rodriguez win would earn him a shot at the title against Holloway at UFC 218 but he was unable to compete that night after pulling out with an injury.
Edgar would be out of competition for nearly a year and was scheduled to return at UFC 222. He never lost his title shot, as him and Holloway were scheduled in the main event that night. However, this time, Holloway was forced out of the contest with an injury of his own. Edgar would stay on the card, and face off against undefeated Brian Ortega. Unfortunately, Ortega stole Edgar’s title shot that night, handing the UFC vet a first round knockout loss. Edgar returned to competition just one month later, defeating Cub Swanson by unanimous decision at UFC Fight Night 128. The win then earned him another chance to fight Holloway and the two would finally meet at UFC 240 with Holloway winning by unanimous decision.
Chan Sung Jung
Since returning from his mandatory military service in South Korea, Jung has won two of three fights. His return came in 2017 in a main event slot against Dennis Bermudez at UFC Fight Night 104. He came up big that night, scoring a first round knockout over Bermudez. His next fight would be scheduled against Ricardo Lamas at UFC 214, but a knee injury would put him out of competition for quite a while.
His return was announced for the main event of the UFC’s 25th anniversary event. He would be taking on Frankie Edgar in that fight, however Edgar was forced out with an injury. Stepping in to replace Edgar would be Yair Rodriguez. Jung fought a great fight that night, entering the fifth round winning on two judge’s scorecards. But heartbreak would follow, as Rodriguez connected with a perfect elbow in the last ten seconds that would stop Jung in his tracks.
Jung would return in June in yet another main event, this time opposite Renato Moicano. He would bounce back in a big way, finishing Moicano in just under a minute by TKO. The big win would earn him the spot in Saturday night’s main event, but his opponent was originally scheduled to be Brian Ortega. An injury would force Ortega out of the fight, causing Edgar to step in. With a big win over Edgar, Jung could earn his first title shot since 2013 when he fought Jose Aldo at UFC 163.
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