Max Holloway was a puzzle nobody in the featherweight division could solve — until Alexander Volkanovski came along.
Volkanovski defeated Holloway via unanimous decision in the co-main event of UFC 245 on Saturday to become the new featherweight champion.
“The Great” used a number of leg kicks to disrupt Holloway’s game, managed distance well and had the cardio to match him throughout the 25 minutes. Much praise went to Volkanovski and City Kickboxing afterward for the game plan they implemented.
And while they did look at weaknesses displayed in Holloway’s loss to Dustin Poirier earlier in the year, they also built their game plan around the Hawaiian’s strengths.
“A lot of people kept asking me, ‘were there things that Poirier had done that youse took in?’ Obviously, there were things but we weren’t just looking at things that have worked well against him,” Volkanovski said on The Luke Thomas Show. “We looked at things that Max does really well. We’ve looked back at his wins and why he was so successful.
“We’re trying to limit things that he’s really good at. I don’t want to give too much away but we get right into detail. You can see that it worked well.”
Volkanovski’s coach Eugene Bareman did give away one aspect on how the leg kicks were designed to disrupt Holloway’s jab.
Just had an enlightening conversation with Eugene Bareman of City Kickboxing following Volkanovski's win at #UFC245.
Interestingly, he said the leg kicks were not merely to punish, but to shift Max's weight to his back heel so he can't sneak into range with his probing jab.
— Luke Thomas (@lthomasnews) December 16, 2019
But excellent game plan aside, Volkanovski felt he had all the tools necessary to come away with the win even if he did end up facing some adversity. After all, he has been stating for a while that he was a bad matchup for Holloway.
“My natural instincts as well. Even when things are heating up a little bit, I’m put in awkward positions — my natural instincts are always going to be there as well,” he added. “My cardio and little things like that. Not only do we have a good plan, we had a lot of options ready. I knew that if things got even harder, then I really could have went to my wrestling.
“That’s why I always knew I was a bad matchup for Max. But I didn’t really have to use much more than my striking so that just shows you where I’m at at the moment. It wasn’t long ago that if I fought, I was just a grappler.”