UFC 276: Volkanovski trumps Holloway, Cerrone retires

Alexander Volkanovsky defeated Max Holloway for the third time Saturday night, defending his featherweight title by unanimous decision with a dominant standout appearance at UFC 276.

Volkanovski (25-1) extended his winning streak to 22 fights with an impressive display against Holloway (23-7), the former 145-pound champion. Volkanovski executed a sharp boxing plan against one of the UFC’s top punchers, with Holloway bleeding in the face early on and steadily ramping up the penalty into the final minutes.

Middleweight champion Israel Adesanya faced Jared Cannonier in the main event of T-Mobile Arena on the Vegas Strip.

The penultimate bout of UFC 276 concluded a memorable trilogy between Volkanovski and Holloway, arguably the two greatest featherweights in UFC history, other than long-reigning champion Jose Aldo. Volkanovski won two highly competitive fights by decision over Holloway in 2019 and 2020, but Holloway won his next two fights to cement his claim for another shot at the title he held for three years.

“Max Holloway is an absolute beast,” Volkanovski said. “That intensity we both had, I needed it. I really needed it. I had to get inside my own head.”

Two skilled strikers understandably kept the fight going, but the smaller Volkanovski was able to work the distance well in the opening two rounds to do some damage, especially opening a nasty cut over Holloway’s left eye. Holloway’s answers dwindled as his cuts widened, and Volkanovski patiently collected scoring shots to leave no doubt about the decision.

Holloway’s whole face was bright red at the last bell. Volkanovski won every round on all three judges’ scorecards, 50-45.

Before the title fights, Alex Pereira destroyed Sean Strickland with strikes midway through the first round of a victory that polished the Brazilian kickboxing champion’s status as an immediate title contender.

Bryan Barbarena also stopped Robbie Lawler on strikes late in the second round of a brutal fight in which both veterans took huge penalties. After losing the first round on two judges’ scorecards, Barbarena ended it with a prolonged flurry that began with a series of re-entrant elbows to break down the defense of 40-year-old Lawler, who had his first UFC fight in 2002. .

On the undercard, Jim Miller set a UFC record with his 24th career win and Donald Cerrone finished with a guillotine choke in the second round.

38-year-old Miller’s historic win broke his tie with Cerrone and Andrei Arlovski for the UFC’s victory.

“You’ll never see the (combined) numbers that came in this fight again, but I’m excited to get the W,” Miller said. “That guillotine, I can do it in my sleep. I knew it was only a matter of time.”

Cerrone, 39, withdrew into the cage after the fight. Cerrone defeated Miller in their first meeting in 2014, but Cerrone is now 4-10 since 2016 with a run of seven wins without a win.

Veteran flyweight Jessica Eye announced her retirement after losing a decision to Maycee Barber. Eye, who turns 36 this month, fought for the 125-pound title in 2019 but has now lost five of the six.

Reporting by The Associated Press.

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