LAS VEGAS -- The third time turned out to be more harm than charm for former featherweight champion Max Holloway as defending king Alexander Volkanovski put forth a virtuoso performance in Saturday's trilogy bout.
In the fourth defense of his 145-pound crown, Volkanovski dominated Holloway throughout and left him a bloody shell of himself inside T-Mobile Arena. All three judges scored it 50-45 for Volkanovski (25-1) in the co-main event of UFC 276.
By scoring his third consecutive victory over Holloway (23-7) since their rivalry began in 2019, the 33-year-old Volkanovski ended any lingering debate from their disputed rematch in 2020. The native of Australia also took one giant step closer to former foe Jose Aldo in the debate of greatest featherweight in MMA history.
"Max Holloway is an absolute beast," Volkanovski said. "That intensity that he brought over the past few days, I needed it."
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The 30-year-old Holloway had talked a big game during fight week by promising a finish in the third round and uncharacteristically talking trash to Volkanovski at Thursday's press conference. But he turned in a largely lifeless performance as Volkanovski's speed and accuracy began to piece the Hawaiian fan favorite up from the start.
Volkanovski began to openly taunt Holloway in the opening round and briefly buckled him with a big right cross. Holloway went back to his corner with a cut under his right eye before things took a much deeper turn for the worse in Round 2 when a big counter right badly cut Holloway's left eye to leave his face a crimson mess.
Holloway began to fight more desperate in Round 4 and traded strikes on largely even terms as the action slowed. But after the cut on his left eye burst open again and affected his vision, Volkanovski finished the fight in dominant fashion by lighting Holloway up in the final round.
By making the fourth defense of his featherweight title, Volkanovski passed Holloway to move into second place in UFC featherweight history and three behind Aldo. "Alexander the Great," who improved to 12-0 overall in the Octagon, talked after the fight about his interest to move up in weight and challenge lightweight champion Charles Oliveira.
"I just proved to you that I want to be in this Octagon as much as possible," Volkanovski said. "I want to be busy and I don't think this division itself can keep me busy. I want to move up and get that double champ status and if I get both belts, I will keep both divisions busy. Let's go."