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Alexander 'The Great' Volkanovski is on a path to, well, greatness - and newly released statistics prove his fight with Max Holloway wasn't as contentious as everyone thinks.
Volkanovski successfully defended his UFC featherweight belt against former champ Holloway on Fight Island over the weekend - but, naturally, it wasn't without its controversy.
The title defence, which now pushes Volkanovski's winning streak to 19 fights, went down to the wire with the judges scoring the fight 48-47, 47-48, 48-47 in favour of the Wollongong native.
With millions - including the majority of the UFC roster - watching the Abu Dhabi event from the comfort of their own homes, many were divided in opinion over the split-decision victory that went the Aussie's way - Dana White being one of them.
AND STILL!!!@AlexVolkanovski retains the gold by split decision! :trophy: #UFC251 #InAbuDhabi @VisitAbuDhabi pic.twitter.com/8HduTtpE24
- UFC_AUSNZ (@UFC_AUSNZ) July 12, 2020
Speaking in a press conference after the fight, the UFC president hinted the judges need 'tightening up'.
"You can't leave it to these guys. We've got some bad judging," White said.
"I'm sure [Holloway] is devastated. Did anybody here score it for Volkanovski? Anybody? Nobody in the media?
"I don't know. We'll have to figure it out. Looks like we've got to tighten up our refs and judges here on Fight Island."
And White wasn't the only UFC personality that thought the fight should have gone Holloway's way.
I had Max the first 3 Rds! Damn! That's tough man. I feel for Max but congrats to Volkanovski#UFC251 #TheWeeklyScraps!
- Aljamain Sterling (@funkmasterMMA) July 12, 2020
Now, though, important stats have been released that show why the judges favoured the Aussie over the Hawaiian.
After Volkanovski's uncharacteristically-slow start, it was clear Holloway took the first two rounds - his two knockdowns solidifying that.
But the 5 foot 5 inch former rugby league player then regained control of the fight over his towering opponent in rounds 4 and 5.
That left the doubt in everyone's minds with the decisive third round - although the judges didn't seem to have any issue with awarding the middle five minutes to the Aussie.
Now, upon closer inspection, you can see exactly what figures grabbed their attention.
Incredibly, the official stats for the bout showed Volkanovski out-landing Holloway in significant strikes in every round apart from the first.
To be exact, the featherweight king landed 25 of his 52 significant strikes in the third round while Holloway only connected with 15 of his 47 shots.
That, combined with his two late takedowns, was perhaps what swayed the judges in Volkanovski's favour.
The official stats for Holloway vs Volkanovski actually show Alex outlanding max in significant strikes in every round but the first The two knockdowns gave Holloway the first two rounds but I'm interested to see what everyone's thoughts are on the third round let me know :point_down: pic.twitter.com/74GH8wVKS1
- :flag_black:MMA AL:flag_black: (@MMA_Al34) July 12, 2020
Alexander Volkanovski vs. Max Holloway official scorecards #UFC251 pic.twitter.com/AEoFVOl5Vq
- Guilherme Cruz (@guicruzzz) July 12, 2020
With his eventful chapter against Max Holloway finally closed, 31-year-old Volkanovski now has his sights set on other potential featherweight contenders in a bid to cement his 'GOAT status'.
Following the fight, recently-retired former UFC bantamweight and flyweight Henry Cejudo took to Twitter to call the Aussie champ 'an overgrown midget' while also claiming he 'stole that one' against Holloway.
Asked by reporters for a response, Volkanovski said: "He's done great things in his divisions."
"I've got nothing but respect for the man. But at the same time, me fighting him ain't helping my legacy. I want No. 1 contenders. If I want to be the GOAT, I've got to take out No. 1 contenders.
"If someone's going to cut in front of the line like Cejudo, pay me the money and maybe we can make it happen. You've got to make it worthwhile for me, because I want GOAT status. Taking Henry Cejudo doesn't really help that. People are going to know I'm expected to win that. No disrespect to him. But this is a whole different league up here with these big boys. If the fight were to ever happen, I'll show this ain't his division."
With Holloway now a distant memory, likely same-weight punching bags for Volkanovski include Chan Sung Jung, Zabit Magomedsharipov or Yair Rodriguez.
That being said, the potential for a super-fight with self-proclaimed 'Triple Champ' Cejudo has even the most sceptical fight fans licking their lips.
Prove me wrong! I'll bet my whole purse that you wouldn't beat me! And my first girlfriend. #bendtheknee @alexvolkanovski https://t.co/R4LceIasLG
- Henry Cejudo (@HenryCejudo) July 13, 2020
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