UFC 276: Aftermath of Max Holloway vs Alexander Volkanovski

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With UFC 276 only a few weeks away, there is a lot to discuss in terms of the event’s matchups.

Israel Adesanya will be defending his middleweight title against a beast in Jared Cannonier, Sean Strickland is facing an old rival of Adesanya in Alex Pereira, and Sean O’Malley will be facing a huge step-up in competition against Pedro Munhoz. With such a stacked card, there is one fight that stands out due to the implications of its results: Alexander Volkanovski vs. Max Holloway. The UFC 276 co-main event will see Volkanovski and Holloway face one another for the third time.

This title trilogy is unique as Volkanvoski has two wins over Holloway. There are almost no instances of a trilogy occurring after an opponent gets two wins over another, especially a title trilogy. In light of this, it is important to ask what the results of this UFC 276 co-main event will mean for the rest of the UFC.

The rationale for A Trilogy

In their first two fights, Holloway and Volkanovski both put on incredible performances. Each fight was tightly contested and provided a window into why Volkanovski and Holloway are levels above the rest of their division. Despite this, Volkanovski was able to soundly take the first match and won a close decision in the second fight.

There are two main reasons for this trilogy fight: First, the fact that many fans believe Holloway won the second fight, and second, the fact that Holloway has looked nothing short of incredible in his subsequent two fights. The second fight between Holloway and Volkansoki was razor-thin. Although there is debate as to whether he was the rightful winner, he did enough to get the nod from the judges and some fans.

Following his second loss to Volkanovski, Holloway had one of the most spectacular showcases of striking in UFC history. Fighting a superb boxer in Calvin Kattar, Holloway was able to land 445 significant strikes, which bested his previous record that he set three years previous in his bout with Brian Ortega. Holloway was able to keep on the gas for the entire fight, and of course, everyone remembers him yelling at the commentary team while pulling and slipping Kattar’s strikes and throwing back his own.

In his most recent fight against Yair Rodriguez, Holloway had a solid showing against the dangerous, unorthodox kickboxer.  For the most part, Holloway was able to outstrike Rodriguez and was also able to implement some solid wrestling to get a decision win.

Now that we’ve gone over the case for this trilogy fight, let’s look at what the possible outcomes could mean for both fighters as well as the UFC at large.

If Holloway Wins…

If Holloway were to win this fight, it would cause some interesting problems to arise.  Firstly, would Volkanovski be granted an immediate rematch? Even if Holloway were to win in a dominant fashion, Volkanovski would still have a win over Holloway. If he were granted an immediate rematch, and then if Volkanovski lost again, would there be a call for the first-ever pentalogy?  

It would be unprecedented for two individuals to face off for five title fights. That being said, it is likely to happen if Holloway wins the third fight.  Holloway would still be down a fight after winning the third, and if he won the quadrilogy, then the rivalry would still not have a true victor.

In addition to what this fight means for Holloway and Volkanovski, it also may set a precedent for other fighters. People like Robert Whittaker and Colby Covington may come to mind.  Fighters that have dominated top contenders in their division and given the champ their most difficult fights. Both of these men have lost to the champion twice, but have given them serious trouble in at least one of their fights. And if Holloway is provided the chance for a third fight, there is reason to say these two and any other fighters that end up in this situation should be given the same opportunity.

If Volkanovski Wins…

If Volkanovski wins, it would seem that the opposite narrative would run. Defeating Holloway three times in a row would certainly be a feather in the cap of Volkanovski’s already incredible career. This victory would also push Volkanovski much closer to the forefront of the featherweight GOAT conversation. A win for Volkanovski would also be troubling for Holloway’s future. He would likely be making a move up to lightweight assuming Volkanovski doesn’t do that himself. In doing this, Max may have some serious issues as he has in the past.  Although an excellent striker, Holloway is fairly small for that weight class which was shown in his fight against Dustin Poirier (just look at the size difference between the two).

Aside from Volkanovski and Holloway, this outcome would have ripples for our previously mentioned Covington, Whittaker, and any other fighter that winds up in a similar position. If Volkanovski is to win, it may take away any future discussion of a trilogy title fight for any other contenders down 2-0, regardless of how close those fights were. This fight is not only a crossroads for Volkanovski and Holloway and their respective careers, but it also could prove to be an important moment for the future of the entire organization.

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