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UFC 251 Preview, Pick And Prediction: Alexander Volkanovski Vs. Max Holloway

On Saturday, Alexander Volkanovski makes the first defense of his UFC featherweight title when he faces Max Holloway, the man he defeated to earn that belt. The two meet in the co-main event of UFC 251, which takes place On “Fight Island.”

Volkanovski maintained a perfect 8-0 UFC record when he topped Holloway via unanimous decision in December. Neither man has competed since that bout, which served as the co-headliner of UFC 245.

Holloway, who is the No. 1-ranked fighter in the official UFC featherweight rankings, was on a 14-fight featherweight winning streak before he stepped into the octagon to face Volkanovski.

That Holloway earned an immediate rematch most likely did not come as a surprise to Volkanovski.

“When we sat down with ‘Volko’ during the first Holloway fight, he sort of has this feeling, as a lot of guys do going into their first UFC title fight against a long-reigning champion, that he was going to have to beat Max Holloway twice,” UFC commentator Jon Anik told MMA Fighting.

The champion’s goal heading into this rematch is to erase all doubt that he deserves the 145-pound title. Volkanovski said he is going for the knockout in this contest.

I think that talk is a smokescreen. Volkanovski’s team is much too smart to “plan” for a knockout. They’ll take it if it comes, but his coaches are some of the best in the sport and they will have their fighter ready for Holloway, just like they did in the first fight.

Another reason a knockout would be a surprise is that Holloway has never been stopped by strikes.

I think the biggest factor in this fight will be the coaching, and Volkanovski has the better team behind him. I don’t expect them to have the same plan they did for the first meeting. That would allow Holloway to prepare for the rematch. My gut tells me Volkanovski will come out with a unique game plan. Yes, it will be technical and well thought out, but it will probably be different.

In the main event of UFC 251, welterweight champion Kamaru Usman and Jorge Masvidal. The third title fight on the card features Petr Yan vs. Jose Aldo for the vacant bantamweight belt.

UFC 251 takes place Saturday, July 11 at Fight Island on Yas Island in Abu Dhabi. The pay-per-view card streams on ESPN+ following prelims on ESPN and ESPN+ and early prelims on ESPN+ and UFC Fight Pass. 

Pick: Volkanovski

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