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Max Holloway vs. Anthony Pettis: Who's Going to Win And Why

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By: Alex Metalis / 12.9.16 - 1:00PM EST

We were all dismayed when Daniel Cormier vs. Anthony Johnson 2 was scrapped for UFC 206, but thankfully this weekend's UFC still has a juicy main event: Max Holloway vs. Anthony Pettis. The stakes are  were high -- the winner was to be vaulted into title contention, and the loser will be set back and in flux. 

While in the process of writing this piece Anthony Pettis did not make the contracted weight limit of 145 pounds during the two-hour window of the morning weigh-ins. As such, he is ineligible to win the belt, as the fight will proceed. Only Holloway will have a chance to wear the gold now. Pettis was also fined 20% of his purse. Despite this unfortunate news, I still foresee an extremely entertaining main event between two great fighters. So, what can we expect from these two snazzy strikers on Saturday night?

Expect the fight to unfold primarily on the feet. Both fighters do their best work with distance strikes. At his best, the younger Holloway is not aggressive per se, but he thrives on applying lurking pressure and cutting off the cage. Max tends to lead with straight hand combinations, whereas Pettis is often content to be on the back foot and snipe with non-telegraphed kicks. Both have quick hands, but Holloway is more fluid and offense-oriented with his punches.

Holloway is a more high-volume striker. Pettis is more powerful. The former lightweight champ's power seemed to translate well at featherweight in his divisional debut against Charles Oliveira in August; as he stopped the Brazilian in his tracks several times with snappy body kicks.

About Pettis's last fight against Oliveira: Pettis seemed to tire quickly and absorbed 41 significant strikes, mostly kicks and elbows. \xe2\x80\x9cShowtime\xe2\x80\x9d was not elusive after the first round. If he finds himself unable to \xe2\x80\x9chit and run\xe2\x80\x9d vs. Holloway without being walloped, Max will make Pettis pay a more severe toll than Oliveira did.

Pettis isn't washed up. The Milwaukee native in only 29. He has, however, lost luster since losing the title in 2015. He lost three consecutive fights at lightweight; in each contest his rangy arsenal was smothered by various forms of pressure.

Grinding out Pettis with wrestling won't be doable for Holloway, but he can apply pressure with his stand-up. Holloway doesn't have the wrestling acumen to take Pettis down easily (he's only attempted two takedowns in his UFC career), but Max can suffocate Pettis by staying close to the crafty kicker and out-dueling him in close-quarters Muay Thai exchanges. The Hawaiian can be at ease at close range with Pettis -- Max's takedown defense is excellent (83%) and Pettis is not a threatening wrestler.

Pettis is certainly having a rough go of things recently. I wonder if the recent arson incidents he's been dealing with are somehow tied to him missing weight. If so, it could effect his performance even further. Holloway is surging with momentum. He's capable of applying the pressure necessary to make Pettis wilt. I expect Max to do just that. It wouldn't shock me, however, if \xe2\x80\x9cShowtime\xe2\x80\x9d is able to flatten Holloway with one of his many whimsical techniques.

Prediction: Max Holloway by unanimous decision

The UFC has uploaded free fights to hype the event, check them out! The last 10 seconds of Holloway-Lamas shows you what kind of mettle Max has:

UFC 206 Free Fight: Max Holloway vs Ricardo Lamas 

UFC 206 Free Fight: Anthony Pettis vs Joe Lauzon

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Jon
Jon enjoys long walks on the beach and a nice pair of slacks. In his free time you may find him at a concert in Brooklyn or a craft beer bar.
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© GONG, Inc. All rights reserved