With UFC 276 only a few weeks away, there’s a lot to talk about in terms of matchups from the event.
Israel Adesanya will defend his middleweight title against a beast in Jared Gunner, Sean Strickland takes on a former rival of Adesanya in Alex Pereiraand Sean O’Malley will face a huge increase in competition against Pedro Munhoz. With such a stacked card, there is one fight that stands out for the implications of its results: Alexander Volkanovski versus. Max Holloway. The UFC 276 co-main event will see Volkanovski and Holloway square off for the third time.
This trilogy of titles is unique because Volkanvoski has two wins over Holloway. There are almost no instances of a trilogy occurring after one opponent scores two wins over another, especially a title trilogy. In light of that, it’s important to ask what the results of this UFC 276 co-main event will mean for the rest of the UFC.
The reason for a trilogy
In their first two fights, Holloway and Volkanovski both put on incredible performances. Each fight was tightly contested and provided a window into why Volkanovski and Holloway are at higher levels than the rest of their division. Despite this, Volkanovski was able to take the first match solidly and won a close decision in the second fight.
There are two main reasons for this trilogy fight: first, the fact that many fans think Holloway won the second fight, and second, the fact that Holloway looked nothing short of amazing in his next two fights. The second fight between Holloway and Volkansoki was very thin. Although there is some debate as to whether he was the rightful winner, he did enough to get the nod from the judges and some fans.
Following his second loss to Volkanovski, Holloway had one of the most spectacular striking displays in UFC history. Fight a superb boxer in Calvin Kattar, Holloway landed 445 significant strikes, which broke his previous record which he set three years earlier when fighting against Brian Ortega. Holloway was able to keep the gas on for the entire fight, and of course everyone remembers him yelling at the commentary team while firing and sliding Kattar’s strikes and returning his own.
In his last fight against Yair Rodriguez, Holloway had a solid performance against the dangerous and unorthodox kickboxer. For the most part, Holloway was able to outplay Rodriguez and also was able to put together a solid fight to secure a decision win.
Now that we’ve looked at the case for this trilogy fight, let’s take a look at what the possible outcomes could mean for the fighters as well as the UFC as a whole.
Volkanovski vs. Holloway 3
We need closure. pic.twitter.com/LYpaI25tn0
– MMA History Today (@MMAHistoryToday) September 26, 2021
If Holloway wins…
If Holloway were to win this fight, it would pose some interesting issues. First, would Volkanovski be entitled to an immediate rematch? Even if Holloway were to win in dominant fashion, Volkanovski would still have a victory over Holloway. If he got an immediate rematch, and then if Volkanovski lost again, would there be a call for the very first pentalogy?
It would be unprecedented for two individuals to face each other for five title fights. That being said, it will likely happen if Holloway wins the third fight. Holloway would still be battling it out after winning the third, and if he won the quadrilogy, the rivalry would still have no real winner.
In addition to what this fight means for Holloway and Volkanovski, it may also set a precedent for other fighters. people like Robert Whittaker and Colby Covington may come to mind. Fighters who have outplayed the top contenders in their division and given the champion his toughest fights. Both of these men have lost to the champ twice, but got them in serious trouble in at least one of their fights. And if Holloway is lucky enough to have a third fight, there’s reason to say that these two fighters and any other fighters who find themselves in this situation should have the same opportunity.
If Volkanovski wins…
If Volkanovski wins, it would seem the opposite narrative would unfold. Beating Holloway three times in a row would certainly be a feather in the cap of Volkanovski’s already incredible career. The win would also bring Volkanovski closer to the forefront of the featherweight GOAT conversation. A Volkanovski win would also be troubling for Holloway’s future. He would probably move up to lightweight assuming Volkanovski didn’t do it himself. By doing this, Max can get into serious trouble like he has in the past. Although he is an excellent attacker, Holloway is quite small for this weight class who has distinguished himself in his fight against Dustin Poirier (just look at the size difference between the two).
Aside from Volkanovski and Holloway, this outcome would impact our Covington, Whittaker and any other previously mentioned fighters who find themselves in a similar position. If Volkanovski is to win, it could suppress any future talk of a trilogy title fight for all other contenders down 2-0, regardless of how close those fights are. This fight is not only a crossroads for Volkanovski and Holloway and their respective careers, but it could also prove to be an important moment for the future of the entire organization.