Perennial featherweight contender, Alexander ‘The Great’ Volkanovski has blazed through the ranks at 145-pounds ever since his Octagon debut, and this weekend at UFC 245 in Sin City, attempts the difficult task of relieving Max ‘Blessed’ Holloway of champion status. Chad Mendes, Jose Aldo, and Darren Elkins have all been battered on Volkanvoski’s journey to his premier UFC opportunity, with the Aussie displaying phenomenal power, something Hawaii’s Holloway is rarely tasked with dealing with at featherweight.
The former Australian Rugby League player is quite stout, similarly to past opponent Mendes, and like his championship challenger counterpart, shares wrestling and power prowess. In his professional career, Volkanovski has fought as high as welterweight, and when competing on the regional circuit in Australia, claimed a triple crown of welterweight, lightweight, and featherweight championships. With twenty victories from twenty-one matches, Volkanvoski has lodged eleven separate knockout wins; a statistic Holloway is sure to be made aware of.
The striking style of both Holloway and Volkanovski is vastly different. Holloway, a technically sound, counter puncher with incredible volume and lengthy combinations. Volkanovski, a daring thrower with power in both hands and the ability to finish anyone at featherweight with a single shot. Holloway’s style is simply smothering, for a case study, take a look at his victory over the then undefeated and betting favorite, Brian Ortega and his successful title defense against the aforementioned Aldo.
Neither Ortega or Aldo are renowned for their respective one-shot stopping power, certainly when compared to Volkanovski. An interesting matchup in Holloway’s recent run is his brief exploit at lightweight, against Dustin Poirier. ‘Blessed’ looked significantly undersized compared to Poirier, and struggled with the Lafayette native’s power over the five round affair, which was ultimately closer than many first believed after a second viewing.
The only other power-heavy considered opponent Holloway has faced at 145-pounds is the punishing Jeremy Stephens. Holloway secured a unanimous decision that night in December of 2015, landed his one and only takedown attempt and narrowly landing more total strikes. Stephens attempted a wrestling heavy game plan at UFC 194 that night, shooting twelve times, with all unsuccessful outcomes. Volkanovski has managed sixteen successful takedowns throughout his brief UFC stint so the wrestling threat is certainly evident.
Another interesting factor in this pairing, is Volkanovkski’s cardio tank. Holloway has the almost unmatched ability to make opponent’s melt from the third round onward, and his output almost grows the longer the contest develops. Unless Volkanovski can grind out takedowns and make this affair quite an unsightly one, or land a fight altering shot, it may prove to be a long night for the 31-year-old.