Three weeks in the past, I wrote that the present featherweight division is essentially the most fascinating weight class within the UFC Final Combating Championship — and after one other thrilling occasion in Jacksonville, Florida, I endorse it.
Alexander Volkanovsky (24-1) elevated himself to indispensable tv. He is at all times been a superb fighter, dropping solely as soon as in his 10-year skilled profession. However he reached a brand new degree in his earlier two matches in opposition to Brian Ortega and Chan Sung-jung. It is a totally different fighter even than the one who defeated Max Holloway twice in 2019 and 2020.
The division begins with Volkanovski, however is gorgeous from high to backside. However questions stay. What’s the greatest problem for Volkanovsky shifting ahead? Who’re the rising fighters with 145 kilos? Who within the division is almost definitely to contemplate lifting weight? After the principle occasion this weekend, let’s take a second to reset the division and the fights we wish to see subsequent.
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Is Alex Volkanovsky actually the goat at 145 kilos?
I believe Alex “The Nice” is on his solution to making the case, however he isn’t fairly there but. If something, it has forged doubt on whether or not Holloway ought to be thought of the best featherweight of all time. It’s a three-horse race between Jose Aldo, Volkanovsky and Holloway. Holloway has over Aldo in many individuals’s minds, however now when you concentrate on his back-to-back losses to Volkanovsky, it is easy to rethink. They had been within the neck and neck throughout these two battles. Aldo has efficiently defended the UFC featherweight title seven instances and twice earlier than that in WEC (which was basically the UFC, below a distinct identify).
When Volkanovsky and Holloway compete for the third time, that battle may have so much to say about it. It is fascinating as a result of Volkanovsky beat Aldo and Holloway, however I do not assume you’ll be able to name him one of the best but as a result of his physique in motion – or lack of title defenses – lags behind the duo. Aldo misplaced to each, together with Holloway twice, however his resume is arguably one of the best by weight. This can in all probability generate some regression, and I could also be inclined to favor the previous, however I’d describe Aldo as the best now. Ask me once more on the finish of the 12 months.
Who’s essentially the most worthy contender to the throne of Volkanovsky
Max Holloway cements his place within the primary contender with a surprising show at UFC Struggle Night time.
Holloway. What are we even speaking about right here? It was Holloway. He solely wanted to win a couple of fights over the previous two years to pressure match three. It was purported to occur at UFC 273, however Holloway exacerbated a earlier harm that compelled him to withdraw. Sarcastically, he was cleared in time to proceed preventing on April 9, however the UFC had already moved on to Volkanovski vs.Jung by then. It is the one battle that must be carried out.
Dana White was non-committal that weekend, however I do not see them go anyplace else. Holloway is Volkanovski 1A’s 1B, and the primary two fights had been very near calling. I really feel that Volkanovsky doesn’t have any “unfinished enterprise” with Holloway – I see whoever his victory over him is authentic. However these two are among the finest featherweight of their period, if not one of the best ever. It solely is sensible that they might face off a number of instances, contemplating how shut the match was and the way they handled all the opposite opponents they confronted.
If the break up turns into Volkanovski, Holloway, and everybody else, what identify can minimize by means of that hole?
Yair Rodriguez. It is simple to neglect that Rodriguez is simply 29 years previous, even when it seems like he is been round endlessly. His inactivity had made him not really feel like he had been in some powerful fights in a brief period of time. He misplaced to Holloway in November, nevertheless it was nice how aggressive he was in that battle. Two of the judges felt he solely misplaced that five-round battle by one, which should not be taken frivolously given the opponent.
Rodriguez nonetheless has room to develop. It has a devastating ending means. This division is stacked, so it is onerous to get out and get to the extent of Volkanovsky Holloway. If I needed to put a inventory in a single to separate himself, it is Rodriguez.
UFC 273 takeaway: Can anybody beat Volkanovsky? Can sterling silence critics?
So what is going to subsequent 12 months’s featherweight appear like?
Dan Hooker and Arnold Allen gave London followers their cash within the first spherical.
There’s a main pivot on the heart of this division – Volkanovsky vs. Holloway 3. This battle has to occur, and it’ll assist dictate what’s to come back. If Holloway loses to Volkanovsky for the third time, he will likely be gone with the potential for his transition to light-weight. If Holloway regains the belt, Volkanovsky will likely be despatched again to the rival combine. I do not assume he would think about shifting within the weight versus specializing in getting his belt again.
After this rivalry, you’ve got many battles worthy of the principle occasion. That is why I like this division a lot. It is in all probability not the UFC’s deepest division, nevertheless it’s stylistically the funniest for the time being. They’re dynamic males, succesful athletes broke down. Arnold Allen takes down what he did in opposition to Dan Hooker? The UFC is hoping to return to England in the summertime, and Allen will probably ebook a giant battle for that card. Calvin Katar, one other boxer who put Giga Chikadze in a cellphone sales space? Josh Emmett, with the knockout energy in each fingers? Youssef’s good friend is an under-the-radar competitor with good expertise. The wrestling of Bryce Mitchell and Movsar Ivlov may destroy many within the division. Dan Ige floats in the midst of all of it, and serves as a confirmed check for anybody close to the highest.
I think about Rodriguez in opposition to Ortega. Prepare vs Emmett. The Ige vs.Evloev match will happen in June. Allen vs. Jung or Chikadze. I let you know, come again to this story in a 12 months and ask your self, “What weight class has constantly produced the funniest fights within the UFC over the previous 12 months?” My cash is on 145.
Volkanovsky says he is able to battle lighter weight if no choices emerge. How will this have an effect on 145 and 155?
Volkanovsky is on a small listing of nominees for one of the best pound-for-pound fighter on the planet proper now, making him a candidate to change weight class and pursue a second division title. I may ultimately see it, however I do not see it now. Not when Volkanovsky has a possible three-way battle with Holloway forward of him, not when he is within the light-weight division Islam Makhachev — and, to a lesser extent, Benil Dariush — ready for the title shot. Makhachev and Dariush could also be preventing one another for first place within the competitors.
Nevertheless, whether or not they do it or not, the sunshine division doesn’t want a “new competitor” in Volkanovsky. Lots has occurred, beginning with Charles Oliveira’s title protection in opposition to Justin Gaethje subsequent month. and there will Be legit within the featherweight title competitors quickly. The UFC must ebook a few of these larger fights at 145. The division goes to shake up a bit, and there will not be any want for Volkanovski to maneuver up.