In a testament to the growth of mixed martial arts in Oceania, this Saturday’s International Fight Week pay-per-view will be headlined by a pair of champions from the region, both of whom find themselves in the top three of the UFC’s pound-for-pound rankings.
While Adesanya looks to notch the fifth defense of his dominant 185-pound reign against Jared Cannonier in the main event, the co-feature will see Volkanovski put his featherweight gold on the line in a third meeting with former champ Holloway.
Despite already recording consecutive victories over Holloway in December 2019 and July 2020, the stage has been set for a unique 2-0 trilogy thanks to both men’s form.
While the Australian has maintained his place on the throne through challenges from Brian Ortega and “The Korean Zombie,” Holloway worked his way back to the title with 2021 headline wins against Calvin Kattar and Yair Rodgiruez.
But although many fans and pundits agree with the decision to pair the duo up for a trilogy fight, Adesanya doesn’t believe it’s necessary for his fellow CKB standout.
During a recent video uploaded to his YouTube channel, which saw the two UFC champs break down this weekend’s UFC 276 card, “The Last Stylebender” explained why he was against Volkanovski vs. Holloway 3 coming to fruition.
“The greatest featherweight of all time. Bro, first of all, can I just say this, I didn’t think this fight needed to happen, honestly,” Adesanya said. “The first fight, I was there live. 5-0, you whooped his ass. Second fight, it was closer. I can’t remember which rounds, but I had you winning, even though it was close.
“People say, ‘You’re biased, da da da.’ Nah, I’m very objective when it comes to — predictions I can be biased, but when the fight’s already happened and you watch it, I can be like, ‘Okay, he won that fight.’ I’ve had you on this guy two up. So I was like, what’s the point of a third fight? When they were (talking about) doing it again, I was like, ‘There’s no point.'”
While some would perhaps brand Adesanya’s recollection of the first fight outlandish, he does have judge Junichiro Kamijo on side.
Mike Bell and Chris Lee turned in 48-47 scorecards in favor of the Aussie, but Kamijo, an experienced judge who’s scored fights since the pre-2010 WEC days, had Volkanovski winning all five rounds for a 50-45 verdict.
When Holloway has his third attempt at adding the first defeat to Volkanovski’s UFC record this Saturday in Las Vegas, the champ will be looking to replicate the lone 50-45 scored if he can’t stop the challenger within the distance.
But given how close and competitive their rematch was, another tight decision certainly won’t be out of the equation come fight night.
Do you agree with Israel Adesanya? is the trilogy fight unnecessary?