Alexander Volkanovski needed to complete Max Holloway of their featherweight title rematch at UFC 251 on Sunday morning, to show past a doubt he is the higher of the 2. As a substitute, the second assembly proved to be a lot nearer than the primary — however in the end, Volkanovski maintained the title through break up resolution.

The ultimate scores mirrored how shut the 145-pound championship bout was. Two judges gave the struggle to Volkanovski by the thinnest of margins, 48-47. A 3rd choose noticed it for Holloway 48-47. ESPN additionally scored the struggle 48-47 for Holloway. The rematch co-headlined UFC 251 on Struggle Island — Yas Island in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates.

Volkanovski, of Australia, needed a end within the rematch, to silence any observers who felt his first win in opposition to Holloway, again in December, was shut. Ultimately, he wasn’t ready to take action, however stated he was happy with the outcome.

“We had 10 rounds,” Volkanovski stated. “I used to be capable of dominate some, in fact he received some rounds as nicely. Credit score to him. He is sturdy. I assumed I may take him out of this struggle, however we ready for the worst. I needed to complete him, however we obtained the job accomplished.”

Holloway, 28, appeared to grab management early, as he dropped Volkanovski within the first and second rounds. He knocked the Aussie down with a head kick within the remaining minute of the opening spherical, and dropped him once more late within the second with an uppercut. Volkanovski recovered rapidly on each events.

Momentum began to vary within the third. Volkanovski continued to rack up leg kicks — a giant theme within the first struggle — and began to discover a residence extra regularly together with his jab and left hook. Within the fourth and fifth rounds, Volkanovski began to combine in his wrestling. He scored takedowns late within the struggle and stayed constant together with his jab and leg kicks.

“It was a troublesome struggle. He stood there and did not take a backwards step,” Volkanovski stated of Holloway. “He made it powerful for me within the earlier rounds — I did not use the kicks as a lot as I might have preferred, however I obtained the job accomplished. That is the primary factor. I knew it was two rounds apiece going into that final spherical. I needed to win that final spherical. I needed a end. He went for the end. Sadly, neither of us obtained it. I received the choice and that is what counts.”

In line with UFC Stats knowledge, Volkanovski landed 139 strikes to 111 for Holloway. He transformed three of 9 takedown makes an attempt.

Volkanovski stated having a brief camp to arrange for the struggle was powerful, however stated he is aware of Holloway was coping with the identical circumstances.

“We each had brief camps, so no excuses,” Volkanovski stated. “He made some good changes, so it took me some time to get used to that.

“I obtained there in the long run. The primary two rounds have been powerful, however I got here away with the final three. I had to make use of all of my instruments this struggle. it simply reveals you what sort of fighter Max Holloway is.”

Holloway, of Hawai’i, was thought-about probably the greatest pound-for-pound fighters on the planet not way back however has now misplaced three of his previous 4 contests. He suffered a call loss to Dustin Poirier in an interim light-weight title bout in April 2019. He rebounded with a 145-pound featherweight title protection in opposition to Frankie Edgar months later earlier than dropping two in a row to Volkanovski.

Volkanovski stated he hopes he is not completed combating this yr.

“I positively need to get one other struggle in [before the end of the year]. I need to keep lively,” he stated. “I am one of many champions who’s chasing the contenders. We have got plenty of guys within the division who’re about to struggle one another and I am eyeing each one in every of them. I need to make defenses and take out No. 1 contenders. That is what I need to do.”