UFC 276: Volkanovski at the top of the hallway, Cerrone calls it quits

Alexander Volkanovsky defeated Max Holloway For the third time on Saturday night, he defended his featherweight title by unanimous decision at UFC 276 with a dominant striking performance.

Volkanovsky (25-1) extended his winning streak to 22 fights with a commanding display against Holloway (23-7), the former champion at 145 pounds. Volkanovsky executed a sharp boxing game plan against one of the UFC's best punchers, bleeding Holloway's face early and steadily increasing the punishment in the final minutes.

Middleweight champion Israel Adesanya faces Jared Cannonier in the main event from the T-Mobile Arena on the Vegas Strip.

The final fight at UFC 276 capped off a memorable trilogy between Volcanovsky and Holloway, perhaps the two greatest featherweights in UFC history outside of long-reigning champ Jose Aldo. Volkanovsky won two highly competitive fights by decision over Holloway in 2019 and 2020, but Holloway won his next two fights to reclaim his claim to another shot at the belt he's held for three years.

“Max Holloway is an absolute beast,” Volkanovsky said. “The intensity that we both had, I needed it. I really needed it. I had to get in my own head.”

The two skilled strikers understandably kept the fight on the feet, but the younger Volkanovski was able to close the distance in the first two rounds, especially in opening a nasty cut above Holloway's left eye. Holloway's answers continued to dwindle as his cuts grew bigger, and Volkanovsky patiently landed scoring shots to leave no doubt in the decision.

In the last hour, the entire face of the hallway turned red. Volkanovsky won every round on the three judges' scorecards, 50-45.

Prior to the title fight, Alex Pereira destroyed Shawn Strickland midway through the first round with a strike that burned the Brazilian kickboxing champion's status as an immediate title contender.

Brian Barberena stopped Robbie Lawler with strikes late in the second round of a brutal fight in which both veterans absorbed great punishment. After losing the first round on two judges' scorecards, Barberena finished it off with a lengthy flurry that began with a series of step-up elbows to break down the defenses of the 40-year-old Lawler, who made his UFC debut in 2002. .

On the undercard, Jim Miller set a UFC record with his 24th career victory, finishing Donald Cerrone with a guillotine choke in the second round.

The 38-year-old Miller's breakthrough victory broke his tie with Cerrone and Andrei Arlovski for the UFC's career wins mark.

“You'll never see the (combined) numbers coming into this fight again, but I'm excited to get the W,” Miller said. “That guillotine, I could do it in my sleep. I knew it was only a matter of time.”

The 39-year-old Cerrone retired to the cage after the bout. Cerrone beat Miller in their first meeting in 2014, but Cerrone is now 4-10 on a seven-fight winless streak dating back to 2016.

Veteran flyweight Jessica I announced her retirement after losing a decision to Messi Narber. Eye, who turns 36 this month, fought for the 125-pound title in 2019, but has now lost five of six.

Reporting by the Associated Press.

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