UFC 251 Betting Pick: Alexander Volkanovski vs Max Holloway 2

I am looking forward so freaking much to the main card of UFC 251, I almost don’t want to make any bets!

Relax, I said almost!

We have not one, not two, but three world title fights this Saturday night from Yas Island, Abu Dhabi aka UFC Fight Island.

The co-main event is a rematch from UFC 245 when Kamaru Usman and Colby Covington rocked the house in a 5-round main event striking match.

Again, the Welterweight title fight is set to overshadow the Featherweights! I’m not complaining, though.

Alexander Volkanovski defeated long-time UFC Featherweight world champion, Max Holloway, by unanimous decision in a 5-round striking battle.

After taking the title from Jose Aldo in the Summer of 2017, he gave the Brazilian legend a rematch 6 months later and the result was the same.

We had a new Featherweight World Champion in the UFC.

Max successfully defended the belt against Brian Ortega and Frankie Edgar and thought he would have a go of it a weight class up at 155.

Dustin Poirier overwhelmed “Blessed” with pressure and power punches. Max is not a big hitter at 145 and this left him with an even larger disadvantage at Lightweight.

Max was unsuccessful in his next title defense opposite this young Aussie with Russian blood who trains in Thailand and New Zealand. Alexander “The Great” Volkanovski who has one lone loss on his record landed 75 leg kicks over 25 minutes of combat and that was the difference.

The online sportsbook BetOnline.AG has the betting odds for us this week. Let’s look at those and make our prediction for the UFC Featherweight World Title fight between Alexander Volkanovski and Max Holloway.

Alexander Volkanovski (-220) vs Max Holloway (+185)

This one opened close by at (-200) for the champ. Normally, when a champion is dethroned, it is incredibly difficult for him or her to get that belt back.

How many have been able to do it in the history of the UFC?

GSP did it once but his loss to Matt Serra wasn’t a 5-round unanimous decision. He got clipped on the back of the head ducking a punch. Props to Matt Serra, though! St Pierre easily won a rematch.

Stipe beat Daniel Cormier in their second fight but that was quite the back and forth battle plus Stipe was caught early in the first fight kinda like GSP.

Other than that, I think The Natural Randy Couture did it once at heavyweight but that’s about it.

No former champ has come back from losing a unanimous decision but Max is still very young. We forget that because the man has been around since he was a kid.

Max still isn’t even 29 years old. The champ is actually older than him at 31.

Both men are in their primes so I don’t see age being a factor here other than Max being able to still change and improve his game. Good luck teaching a 39-year-old new tricks but 29, that’s doable.

What is he gonna learn, though? How to check a kick? That is day one stuff.

Alex has spent years training in Phuket, Thailand at Tiger Muay Thai. He knows how to time and land leg kicks so that they aren’t checked. The Thais seemingly defend everything so if you can start to land on them, I don’t think Max is going to give you that many problems.

Nate Diaz got a lot better at checking kicks and hurt both Conor McGregor and Anthony Pettis’s feet with the devastating defense.

Conor and Pettis are both great kickers but I don’t think either can say they have years of Thailand training or even months.

I love Max just like everybody. He is the coolest guy who doesn’t take himself seriously at all, and his fondness of the saying “It is what it is” is contagious.

Acceptance is key in life and western society/religions don’t really tackle this head-on like Buddhism/Eastern philosophies.

Holloway is a maverick, though, and “Blessed” with being wise beyond his years.

Acceptance is the first step in many journeys and if we don’t understand the concept, we will miss out on so much that life has to offer.

If I learned anything living in SE Asia, it was that I needed more acceptance and less attachment in my life. We will save the attach-detach discussion for another day.

I love Holloway’s attitude but sometimes, he might be too accepting of his situation and thus too laid back. He has never left his small school where he has been top dog pretty much the entire time.

Max even said that most of his training for this fight was on ZOOM. His coaches were barely even there for him. He accepted that it is what it is and that’s cool and all. I have heard that Hawaii’s lockdown was more serious than the rest of the country.

Volkanovski, while he can’t get into Thailand or maybe even New Zealand, has been training very hard with his coaches in ‘Straya twice per day. The champ said he is not buying what Max is selling about him only training by ZOOM.

If Holloway can effectively check some kicks early on, Alex may slow down his attack with them. He landed 75/93 in the first fight. That is 15 per round and 3 per minute.

Every 20 seconds for 25 minutes, Max was getting kicked in his leg. He stands with a very wide base and he usually keeps the shorter guys out with his jab and eventual forward pressure.

Holloway is not a back foot fighter and neither is Volkanovski. The latter won the first fight because he stayed on his front foot.

Holloway was more effective in the 4th and 5th rounds of the first fight than he was in the beginning so that is somewhat good news going into the rematch.

I did pick Volkanovski to win the first fight but he wasn’t a (-220). That changes a lot. Even if I cap him to win 6 out of 10 fights, we can’t make a play.

We would have to give Alex 7 wins if these two fought 10 times.

  • I believe we will have a closer fight than the first time but I still think Alex pulls it off.
  • I believe he will be the more aggressive fighter in there and I see him throwing more volume.

The over/under totals are ridiculous. The fight is (-200) to go to a 5-round decision. Neither man was close to being finished in the first fight.

Volkanovski and Holloway have only been finished once in their respective MMA careers and that was about 8 years ago for each fighter. 25 minutes is a long time but we are back in the larger Octagon.

I believe Alex will get the victory again and it is likely to be a decision win.

We are getting (+115) on a Volkanovski decision win. I don’t like to bet too many method of victory plays but this one feels right.

My Pick
Volkanovski by decision

In Conclusion

I love rematches! Who doesn’t, right? Well, I guess some have been rather redundant over the years. That’s just fine and dandy with me, though, on Saturday.

Let history repeat itself.

Volkanovski is a bad matchup for anyone and Max Holloway didn’t really have an answer for his high-low and low-high combinations.

Max will need to effectively check more kicks than he did in the first fight. 75 is A LOT of times to get kicked in the leg. I don’t care who you are.

The former champ will need to establish the jab but most importantly, stay on the front foot.

Max just doesn’t have near the center of gravity as the champ and as a tall skinny guy myself, I know how hard it is to hold your ground when the short stocky guy is coming forward with bombs.

When that short stocky guy is also a better kicker, then you are going to have to match that with some power in your hands.

Holloway doesn’t possess that knockout power in his hands and he has yet to evolve his striking game by throwing more elbows and knees.

That would be a game changer if he counters the shorter man blasting inside with some elbows or even a Dan Hooker-esque knee to the face straight up the middle.

How can we bet on him to do something he never has before, though? I would like to but until he shows us those skills, we can’t confidently predict he will use them.

Get your bets in now guys as this Volkanovski by decision line is really the only valuable play left to make on the champ.

Mike Pruitt / Author

Mike has been covering sports professionally since 2017 but on the amateur scene for 25 years since when he was 12. Before the internet changed the world, he would keep detailed statistical box scores of NFL and NBA contests, write recaps, and voluntarily commentate games and fights alone in his room. Mike's military experience, Bachelors Degree, and employment thereafter were always rooted in engineering, science, and teaching. Now he enjoys being able to express himself through writing about football, golf, and car racing among other sports but most of all fighting as his life has been rooted in mixed martial arts including competing and teaching for the past 15 years.