Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) Featherweight strikers Max Holloway and Arnold Allen will clash TONIGHT (Sat., April 15, 2023) at UFC Kansas City inside T-Mobile Center in Kansas City, Missouri.
Plenty of other fights have been in Max Holloway’s position, clearly sitting at No. 2 but unable to dethrone the champion. It’s not at all an easy circumstance, and most of his predecessors were unable to find their way to the title (or in Holloway’s case, back to the title). The odds are stacked against him, but this bout is an opportunity for Holloway to demonstrate just how much he has left in the tank. Conversely, Allen’s eight-year UFC career has built towards this fight specifically. He’s come a long way since his UFC debut, developing a finely tuned and highly rounded approach to MMA. He’s sharp, efficient, and likely to be in the title mix for a long time to come.
Let’s take a closer look at the keys to victory for each man:
Key Wins: Jose Aldo (UFC 218, UFC 212), Calvin Kattar (UFC Fight Island 7), Yair Rodriguez (UFC Vegas 42), Frankie Edgar (UFC 240), Brian Ortega (UFC 231) Anthony Pettis (UFC 206), Ricardo Lamas (UFC 199), Cub Swanson (UFC on FOX 15)
Key Losses: Alexander Volkanovski (UFC 276, UFC 251, UFC 245), Dustin Poirier (UFC 236, UFC 143), Conor McGregor (UFC Fight Night 26), Dennis Bermudez (UFC 160)
Keys to Victory: Holloway is likely the best volume puncher in the history of men’s MMA. He’s a statistical anomaly, the record holder of many strikes landed statistics despite fighting little but elite competition for the last decade.
In this match, Holloway faces a nice foil to himself. Allen isn’t low volume by any means, but he’s very careful with his defense and smartly selects when and where to exchange. Holloway seeks to overwhelm, whereas Allen looks to outmaneuver his opposition.
Holloway will definitely be looking to pressure here, but he has to do so in a patient manner to avoid running into easy left hands. Building combinations will be key, and Holloway’s patented 1-2 shift stance 1-2 should help him close into the pocket safely and prolong exchanges. It’s really important in this bout that Holloway closes his combinations with kicks, which will help ensure he connects on something as Allen looks to reset.
Lastly, Holloway has to take lots of straight punches to the mid-section. Like Dustin Poirier once did to trouble “Blessed,” Allen does nice work hiding behind his shoulder and pointed elbow while circling out. Poirier can’t let that wrinkle slow his offense down, and punching at the ribs will convince Allen to alter his defense.
Key Wins: Calvin Kattar (UFC Vegas 63, Sodiq Yusuff (UFC Vegas 23), Dan Hooker (UFC London), Gilbert Melendez (UFC 239), Makwan Amirkhani (UFC Fight Night 107), Mads Burnell (UFC Fight Night 130)
Key Losses: None
Keys to Victory: Allen reminds me quite a bit of Leon Edwards, who somewhat recently became a training partner of “Almighty.” They have different preferences in how they kickbox, but both Southpaws tend to limit exchanges and ensure they’re landing the bigger shots that do damage and sway the judges.
Allen’s lovely lead leg calf kick should be a massive weapon against Holloway, who’s never dealt with low kicks amazingly well. Not only can it damage Holloway’s leg and hamper his footwork, but Holloway isn’t the type to hang back while getting kicked. Allen does really nice work off-balancing his opponent and gaining the outside angle with the kick, so if Holloway tries to step through and punch anyway, he’ll be in bad position to take a counter shot.
Allen’s ability to counter effectively then circle off will likely decide this bout. I’d like to see him initiating exchanges with a quick jab or left straight, pulling to avoid and counter, then safely exit with head movement. If he falters on the last bit, Holloway will get the extended exchanges he wants and likely be able to employ his volume effectively.
This bout will be very telling for the future of each man.
Holloway hasn’t given up on a fourth bout with Volkanovski, but it doesn’t sound like the best idea just yet. Really, Holloway’s best shot at Featherweight gold is to win here and hope that Yair Rodriguez dethrones the champion. “Blessed” was the last man to defeat “Pantera,” so a title shot in that scenario is very possible.
If he loses here, it might be time to really consider that Lightweight move.
As for Allen, he’s fighting for a title shot. Defeating Holloway is a massive accomplishment, even if some fans believe Holloway’s prime is coming to a close. Even if Allen wasn’t riding a massive 10-fight win streak, defeating Holloway in a main event slot if more than enough to justify a shot at Volkanovski.
At UFC Kansas City, Max Holloway and Arnold Allen will duel in the main event. Which man earns the victory?
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