Three titles were on the line at UFC 245 in Las Vegas on Saturday night, but only Alexander Volkanovski was able to wrest away control of a championship from the previous holder.
Fighting at the T-Mobile Arena on the Strip, Volkanovski (21-1) took down featherweight champion Max Holloway (21-5), earning a unanimous decision victory after judges scored the fight 50-45, 48-47, and 48-47 in his favor.
Volkanovski Kicks Holloway to the Curb
While Holloway had lost a decision to Dustin Poirier in a lightweight bout at UFC 236 in April, he had been undefeated at 145 pounds since 2013, having won 14 straight times as a featherweight. He had successfully defended his title three times before Saturday’s match.
A 31-year-old Australian, Volkanovski dominated the fight with a record number of leg kicks, especially in the early rounds. Holloway fought back in the late rounds, but it wasn’t nearly enough to turn the tide of the fight.
“I guess it hasn’t fully set in yet, new featherweight champ,” Volkanovski said after the fight. “I keep myself so composed so that I can get the job done, that sometimes it feels like it’s not even happening. I thought it was pretty back-and-forth, but my corner was telling me that we were getting the job done, so I just kept at it.”
Holloway vowed that he isn’t done in the UFC, citing his young age as a reason to believe he still has plenty of big moments ahead of him.
“I’m only 28, and I’m only getting better,” Holloway said.
Nunes, Usman Hold on to Titles
In the night’s other two title fights, the reigning champions were able to hold on to their titles, though not without resistance from their opponents.
Amanda Nunes (19-4) earned her fifth defense of the women’s bantamweight title with a solid 49-44, 49-46, 49-45 decision victory over Germaine de Randamie (9-4). Nunes was never in serious danger of losing the match, though de Randamie did show she could go the distance, and occasionally did damage against the champion.
Welterweight champion Kamaru Usman (16-1) found himself in a tight battle against challenger Colby Covington (15-2) deep in the fifth round, but finished the fight after dropping Covington twice in a row with big right hands. Referee Marc Goddard stopped the fight at 4:10 of the final round, giving Usman a TKO win despite Covington’s protests.
According to UFC President Dana White, Usman might next fight Jorge Masvidal (35-13), who was ranked as the No. 3 contender in the division before Saturday’s card.
“The Masvidal fight now versus Usman is a big deal,” White told ESPN.
Masvidal could also potentially fight Conor McGregor in what would be a lucrative bout for both men, especially if McGregor can first defeat Donald Cerrone in January.
Jones Teases Move to Heavyweight
UFC light heavyweight champion Jon Jones (25-1) has suggested that he might move up to heavyweight at some point in his career, and is now saying that the change could happen sooner rather than later.
Jones is scheduled to fight Dominick Reyes in a title defense at UFC 247 in February, but says he would be open to trying his luck in the heavyweight division after that bout.
“I’ve been [working] with Andrei Arlovski and [Alistair] Overeem and all these big guys my whole career, and I’ve always done well,” Jones said at a press conference. “At 240, I move just as fast as I do at light heavyweight. My versatility I realize is not things most heavyweights would do – spinning things, flying knees. Things like that. I feel really good. I think the timing is gonna be really close. I wouldn’t be surprised if it happened [in 2020].”