The UFC has named the location of its Fight Island and according to UFC President Dana White, the promotion will be heading to Yas Island in Abu Dhabi for a series of events. Starting its Fight Island series is UFC 251 which is scheduled for July 11, 2020 and as per the UFC’s announcement, it will be headlined by three title bouts.

One of the three title bouts is a featherweight showdown between current champion Alexander Volkanovski and immediate former champion Max Holloway. The bout is a rematch of their UFC 245 fight where Volkanovski unseated Holloway via unanimous decision.

“Fighting" Holloway vs Volkanovski 1

Before the fight, the Australian was considered as Holloway’s toughest test ever, and he proved to be just that. Holloway had won 14 consecutive bouts and asserted himself as the best featherweight in the UFC with back to back wins over Jose Aldo. However, Volkanovski upset Holloway by using pace, cardio, and power to beat Holloway in his own game. The Aussie won via scores of 50-45, 48-47, and 48-47 to become the new featherweight champion.

Volkanovski outstruck Holloway 173-103 in total strikes in a fight that never went to the mat. The former Rugby player who once weighed 200 pounds, set a UFC record for most leg kicks landed in a featherweight bout, establishing the new record in the third round of their fight. He also beat Holloway to the punch and was successful in keeping the fight at a distance where he avoided Holloway’s big blows.

But because of Holloway’s dominance before the loss, the former champ was granted an immediate rematch and that is happening next month on Yas Island. The betting lines for the fight have opened and the current champion is a -200 favorite against the ex-champ who came back at +170.

“Fighting" Analysis of Odds

Holloway isn’t used to having the plus money symbol beside his name. Blessed has been the betting favorite in nine out of his last 10 bouts and the only time he was an underdog during that period was when he fought Jose Aldo at UFC 212. He was even a -265 favorite when he moved up to lightweight to challenge Dustin Poirier but lost via unanimous decision. Holloway also closed at -175 when he fought Volkanovski at UFC 245.

On the other hand, the oddsmakers have slighted the current champion in his recent fights. Volkanovski has been the betting underdog in his last three bouts which were against high-profile featherweights in Chad Mendes, Jose Aldo, and Holloway. Based on $100 bets, Volkanovski won a total of $345 in those three bouts. With the oddsmakers putting the minus sign beside his name for the opening odds for this bout, this will be the sixth time in nine UFC bouts where Alexander The Great is the betting favorite.

Let’s take a look at both fighters and make our early prediction for this UFC featherweight title bout:

“Fighting" Alexander Volkanovski

Alexander Volkanovski is the current UFC featherweight champion and the 7th ranked pound for pound fighter in the UFC. The 31-year old from Wollongong, New South Wales in Australia is a former Australian Fighting Championship featherweight champion and Pacific Xtreme Combat featherweight champion. He joined the UFC in 2016 and is unbeaten in eight octagon appearances.

Volkanovski has a record of 21-1 with 11 knockouts and three wins by submission. He has won 18 consecutive bouts and has not lost since his fourth professional bout in 2013. Volkanovski has won consecutive fights against Darren Elkins, Chad Mendes, Jose Aldo, and Max Holloway.

Alexander the Great stands 5-6 tall with a reach of 71 ½ inches while fighting out of the orthodox stance. He lands an average of 6.15 significant strikes per minute with a 57% accuracy while absorbing 3.14 significant strikes per minute with a 59% strike defense. On the ground, completes an average of 2.16 takedowns per 15 minutes with a 3% accuracy and a 72% takedown defense.

What are the Moneyline Odds?





Odds were taken from SportsBetting as of 06/18/2020

“Fighting" Max Holloway

Max Holloway is the immediate former UFC featherweight champion. Blessed is the 9th ranked pound for pound fighter in the UFC and the #1 ranked featherweight contender in the promotion. The 28-year old from Honolulu, Hawaii is a former X-1 lightweight champion who joined the UFC in 2012. After splitting his first six assignments inside the octagon, he won 14 consecutive bouts including four consecutive title bouts.

Holloway has a record of 21-5 with 10 knockouts and two submissions. His last seven bouts have been title fights and he’s gone 5-2 in those bouts. However, the two losses have come in his last three bouts and he is coming off a five round unanimous decision loss to Volkanovski at UFC 245.

Blessed is 5-11 tall with a reach of 69 inches while fighting out of the orthodox stance. He is averaging a ridiculous 6.66 significant strikes landed per minute with a 44% accuracy rate while absorbing 4.45 significant strikes per minute with a 62% takedown defense. Holloway doesn’t have much of a ground game but he has an excellent 85% takedown defense.

“Fighting" How Will This Fight Unfold?

I don’t see the rematch going any differently than their first bout at UFC 245. Volkanovski has a good takedown game but because Holloway has an 85% takedown defense, I don’t think he’ll try to take this fight to the mat. Alexander The Great outstruck Holloway 157-134 in significant strikes landed during their first bout and he knows that he can go toe to toe with Blessed for five rounds while outpointing the high-volume Hawaiian.

While Holloway matches Volkanovski’s hand output and even landed more punches than the Australian, Volkanovski had a huge advantage in leg kicks at 75-17. Alexander The Great threw his leg kicks consistently throughout the five round bout while keeping away from the clinch. If he is to beat Holloway again, those leg kicks should be a big part of his arsenal at UFC 251.

As for Holloway, he will look to give Volkanovski different looks in the rematch. That’s because when he switched to southpaw in their first bout, Volkanovski’s leg kicks weren’t as effective against him. Moreover, Holloway got his striking game going and started to find his target more often after he switched stances. Defensively, Holloway will have to start checking kicks if he wants to win his belt back.

I think that the only way Volkanovski wins this fight is to fight the same way he did in the first one. He will have to kick away to slow down Holloway while picking up the points and winning the rounds. However, I think Holloway is the more versatile striker between these two. Blessed already knows what to expect and he already showed that he can minimize Volkanovski’s kicking game by turning southpaw. I think Max adjust well here and reclaims his strap.

Prediction: Go pick Max Holloway while he’s still on plus money.

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