Max Holloway has been at the top of the game for an awful long time.
The Hawaiian debuted in the UFC in 2012, fighting both Dustin Poirier and Conor McGregor in his first two years on the roster. In 2014, he flipped the switch and elevated his game, securing four straight stoppage wins to start the win streak that would eventually see him capture the Featherweight title just two years later. Since December 2016, Holloway has fought nothing but former champions and Top Five contenders in 25-minute contests, soaring up the records in strikes landed, strikes absorbed, and overall fight time.
Unfortunately for the former champion, his third match with Alexander Volkanovski didn’t go great, especially compared to their immediate rematch. Volkanovski seemed to have his number from early on, which can happen for any number of reasons, like an off night for Holloway or the simple fact that Volkanovski is an all-time great fighter.
Holloway still didn’t do awful. He was never taken or knocked down, and he landed 127 significant strikes in defeat. He didn’t win a round, but perhaps the response towards his performance was harsh. Immediately, the fighting world wondered if Holloway’s time at the top was done.
In their defense, that’s a reasonable question given his longevity. Most MMA fighters don’t fight well at the highest level for more than a few years, especially if they take as many shots as Holloway.
Fortunately, Holloway’s performance last night (Sat. April 15, 2023) at UFC Kansas City proved there’s still plenty left in the tank. Holloway didn’t defeat Arnold Allen because of his toughness or chin, though those attributes certainly didn’t hurt. In fact, Holloway won because he was the slicker striker with better range management. He took on a younger and historically very precise kickboxer then made him miss time and time again, sneaking in his own counters, pokes, and combinations when appropriate.
Allen is a great fighter, genuinely one of the five best Featherweights in the world. Still, Holloway always seemed in control, keeping his poise throughout all five rounds. None of the signs of a declining fighter were present. Holloway’s conditioning, speed, and reaction time held up for all five rounds, and he was never once fazed by a shot that came from his opponent.
Volkanovski might remain a difficult match up for Holloway, but “The Great” turns 35 in September. Athletic cliffs tend to be dramatic in the smaller weight classes, and perhaps Holloway is such an exception to the standard rules that he can simply outlast Volkanovski and return to the title after his reign.
Holloway, at least, isn’t going anywhere just yet.
For complete UFC Kansas City: “Holloway vs. Allen” results and play-by-play, click HERE!