Alexander Volkanovski (17-1) navigated the biggest win of his UFC career when he dominated the previously undefeated Jeremy Kennedy (11-1) at UFC 221 in Perth, Australia.
The matchup between these two rising featherweights was mostly expected to be a competitive fight, but Volkanovski kicked into gear early and never looked back.
After an initial feeling-out process, Kennedy snatched up the lead leg of Volkanovski before attempting to trap it and secure a takedown. Despite a deep grip on Volkanovski’s thigh, he was never able to work up to the knee line as Volkanovski maintained excellent balance before scraping Kennedy off against the cage.
As the two clinched against the cage, the physical disparity became clear. Volkanovski used his short and stocky frame to secure deep underhooks while the much taller Kennedy was forced to overhook the arms of Volkanovski and stop him from progressing. With two underhooks, Volkanovski kicked out the leg of Kennedy before landing in a modified guard.
This is where it all turned ugly. Volkanovski trapped Kennedy against the cage and heavy downward pressure before occasionally posturing up and attempting strikes. Kennedy was comfortable on his back and tried some different versions of guard to help himself to a better position. In particular, when Kennedy tried using Z-guard to create separation, Volkanovski instead just drove his elbow into Kennedy’s face and disallowed him from regaining good posture. Similarly, when Kennedy would try and narrow the gap to remove the threat of strikes, Volkanovski just pushed him back.
The onslaught of ground and pound really began with just over a minute left in the first round. Volkanovski attempted upward of 20 strikes consecutively while forcing Kennedy to cover his face with his forearms.
The power of half guard
Kennedy’s corner called for additional framing to help manage the distance between himself and Volkanovski on the mat. However, Volkanovski’s crushing pressure made that a difficult task.
Jeremy Kennedy’s opportunity for a turnaround came about three minutes into the second round when he had moved in on a double-leg takedown attempt. Despite looking threatening at first, Volkanovski easily shredded the takedown attempt by maintaining a powerful overhook and forcing Kennedy’s shoulders into the mat.
From here it was much the same as the first round. Volkanovski postured up using his strong base before slamming down fists repeatedly. Again, Volkanovski did some of his best work when Kennedy resorted to a modified half guard. While in Z-guard, Kennedy was not able to push Volkanovski away with his top knee/leg. With his weight on the mat, Volkanovski was able to connect with powerful shots without concern of being swept.
Kennedy did attempt to scramble and defend every time referee Marc Goddard requested him to do so, but it was not enough to escape the eventual stoppage at 4:57 of the second round.
A bully-like performance
After bullying Jeremy Kennedy, Alexander Volkanovski again called for all the bad guys in the UFC’s featherweight division and it seems that he wants to start with Andre Fili.
Volkanovski calls out @TouchyFili and Jeremy Stephens. Says he wants to fight the bullies and the guys that like to talk. Fili ain’t no bully though. Really nice guy actually 🤷🏻♀️
— Farah Hannoun (@Farah_Hannoun) February 11, 2018
Although Jeremy Kennedy had stormed past three fighters in the UFC before UFC 211 with overwhelming grappling dominance, it was his defensive wrestling that let him down against Volkanovski.
— UFC (@ufc) February 11, 2018
Jake is The Body Lock's Editor in Chief, based in Tasmania, Australia.