UFC Fight Night touches down in Kansas City on Saturday with a main event that has serious title implications for at least one fighter. Former UFC featherweight champion Max Holloway serves as the ultimate test for Arnold Allen as the Brit looks to make good on lofty expectations.
Holloway (23-7) finds himself gridlocked from the UFC featherweight championship following three losses to reigning titleholder Alexander Volkanovski, the last of which was by far the most decisive. Holloway is considered among the greatest featherweight champions in UFC history. For the first time in six years, Holloway is not definitively the 1A or 1B at 145 pounds. Holloway refutes that assessment and draws inspiration from UFC middleweight champion Israel Adesanya, who recently knocked out Alex Pereira after three losses to Pereira across MMA and kickboxing.
“It’s crazy to me. Are you insane? If being a champion wasn’t my motivation, being the greatest wasn’t my motivation, why would I take this fight?” Holloway asked reporters at Wednesday’s media day. “If I was just in it to just fight or even get money grabs, I’d take easier fights. I’m fighting the guy they’re talking about who is next in title contention, who a lot of guys thought should have got the interim title, you know? At the end of the day, to be the best, you got to beat the best, and the best is ‘Blessed.’
“People keep giving me a hard time like how are we gonna do the fourth, this and that. I mean, watching Izzy last week was pretty inspiring.”
Allen (19-1) was the best-kept secret at featherweight for quite some time. Allen’s slow burn up the division took seven years, due in part to injuries and fights falling through, but he is now one of 15 fighters to cross 10 consecutive wins in the UFC. Some fighters would be frustrated by that level of inactivity, but Allen believes it grants him a huge advantage over Holloway as he looks to cement himself as the rightful challenger for the winner of Volkanovski vs. Yair Rodriguez.
“He’s Max Holloway, he’s great. His mileage is gonna catch up,” Allen told “Morning Kombat” in a previous interview. “It doesn’t matter how old you are if you have 20 fights where every fight is a back-and-forth, 50-50 war. Even when he’s been very dominant, he’s taken a lot of shots. So yeah, the miles have got to add up.
“The mental warfare he’s good at in the cage. Not even outside because he’s not like McGregor [who] would break people down before [the fights] as he did to Jose Aldo. He seems to do that in the cage. He does all his talking there, riles you up, gets you sort of off your gameplan and gets you frustrated.”
One fight bizarrely buried on the preliminary card is Brandon Royval vs. Matheus Nicolau. Royval is arguably the flyweight division’s most exciting fighter with a 50% Fight of the Night rate. Meanwhile, Nicolau is an absolute hammer on a six-fight winning streak. Whoever emerges victorious could challenge the winner of Brandon Moreno vs. Alexandre Pantoja for the UFC flyweight championship.
“You can’t tell me I’m a boring fighter because I know for a fact I’m one of the most exciting fighters on the roster, let alone in my division where I am the most exciting,” Royval told CBS Sports. “When it comes down to rankings, I don’t know who Tanner Boser really is vs. Cutelaba. I don’t know the significance of why they have that fight on the main card, let alone above us… This is a title contender fight.”
Below is the rest of the fight card for Saturday night with the latest odds from Caesars Sportsbook before we get to a prediction and pick on the main event.
UFC Fight Night card, odds
|Max Holloway -190
|Arnold Allen +160
|Billy Quarantillo -180
|Edson Barboza +155
|Dustin Jacoby -150
|Azamat Murzakanov +125
|Ion Cutelaba -125
|Tanner Boser +105
|Chris Gutierrez -210
|Pedro Munhoz +175
|Rafa Garcia -270
|Clay Guida +220
UFC Fight Night viewing information
Date: April 15 | Start time: 8:30 p.m. ET (main card)
Location: T-Mobile Center – Kansas City
TV channel: ESPN | Live stream: fuboTV (Try for free)
Max Holloway vs. Arnold Allen: Holloway has clearly lost a step. His third loss to Volkanovski and a competitive fight against Rodrgieuz suggest as much, but I’m still not ready to count out “Blessed” as an elite featherweight. He fires with historic volume — he’s expected to blow past 3,500 total strikes in the UFC come Saturday night — and curries favor with judges thanks to the sheer quantity of his head strikes. Allen has shown a more offensive-minded approach in recent fights but historically succeeds in slowing the contest to his methodical pace. Opponents have tried to keep Holloway still for years with little success. The only guys to beat Holloway since 2013 are Volkanovski and Poirier, two fighters who could match his power and volume. Allen is a tremendous talent, but there are still too many unknowns considering the injury Calvin Kattar suffered early in his last fight. Holloway via UD.