Volkanovski (25-1) extended his winning streak to 22 fights with a commanding display against Holloway (23-7), the former champion at 145 pounds. Volkanovski executed a sharp boxing game plan against one of the UFC’s best punchers, bloodying Holloway’s face early on and steadily increasing the punishment into the final minutes.
The penultimate bout of UFC 276 concluded a memorable trilogy between Volkanovski and Holloway, likely the two greatest featherweights in UFC history outside of long-reigning champ Jose Aldo. Volkanovski won two highly competitive fights by decision over Holloway in 2019 and 2020, but Holloway won his next two fights to reassert his claim to another shot at the belt he held for three years.
“Max Holloway is an absolute beast,” Volkanovski said. “That intensity that we both had, I needed it. I really needed it. I had to get in my own head.”
Two proficient strikers understandably kept the fight on the feet, but the smaller Volkanovski capably closed the distance to do damage in the first two rounds, particularly in opening a nasty cut above Holloway’s left eye. Holloway’s answers dwindled as his cuts grew larger, and Volkanovski patiently racked up scoring shots to leave no doubt in the decision.
Holloway’s entire face was crimson at the final bell. Volkanovski won every round on all three judges’ scorecards, 50-45.
Before the title fights, Alex Pereira demolished Sean Strickland with strikes midway through the first round of a victory that burnished the Brazilian kickboxing champion’s status as an immediate title contender.
Bryan Barbarena also stopped Robbie Lawler on strikes late in the second round of a brutal fight in which both veterans absorbed tremendous punishment. After losing the first round on two judges’ scorecards, Barbarena ended it with a prolonged flurry that began with a series of step-in elbows to break down the defense of the 40-year-old Lawler, who had his first UFC bout in 2002.
The 38-year-old Miller’s landmark victory broke his tie with Cerrone and Andrei Arlovski for the UFC’s career wins mark.
“You’re never going to see the (combined) numbers that came into this fight ever again, but I’m excited to get the W,” Miller said. “That guillotine, I can do it in my sleep. I knew it was only a matter of time.”
The 39-year-old Cerrone retired in the cage after the bout. Cerrone beat Miller in their first meeting in 2014, but Cerrone is now 4-10 since 2016 with a seven-fight winless streak.
Veteran flyweight Jessica Eye announced her retirement after losing a decision to Maycee Barber. Eye, who turns 36 this month, fought for the 125-pound title in 2019, but has now lost five of six.
Reporting by The Associated Press.
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