Over the past 4.5 years, Max Holloway has shown a tendency to walk down his opponents in an attempt to get them into striking range. If he is successful, Max will repeatedly circle into the opponent’s power hand to analyze the hand placement of the opponent. For instance, if the opponent places the hands at jaw level or higher, he will give Holloway the opportunity to target the body and legs. This is because the opponent usually can’t drop his fists in time to block or deflect the strike. On the other hand, if the opponent places the hands below the jaw, he will give Holloway the opportunity to target the head. After Max is done gathering the data, he will look to exploit the areas that his opponent leaves open. For example, Jeremy Stephens would place his hands at about jaw-level for the most part which meant the body and legs were exposed continuously. As a result, Max Holloway decided to feature a heavy dose of the right jab and left kick to the body.
Due to this, Max Holloway should look to attack the head of Khabib Nurmagomedov. This is because Nurmagomedov has shown a tendency to walk down his opponents in an attempt to get them into grappling range. If Khabib is successful, he will throw the left jab followed by the right uppercut to get the opponent to raise their hands. When the adversary raises their hands, it gives Khabib an easy takedown attempt; because his foe will not have time to get the under hooks in to stop the takedown. Due to this, Nurmagomedov can quickly drop down to grab one or both of the opponent’s legs and start pushing him towards the fence. Once this process is complete, he will regrip the legs to attempt a takedown to get the fight to the ground. If he is successful, he will proceed to establish wrist control and try to land some ground and pound. Eventually, the referee is usually forced to stop the fight because the foe can’t block the punches thrown by Khabib Nurmagomedov.
However, one can argue that Khabib Nurmagomedov’s fighting style will be the catalyst for his first loss. This is because every time he moves forward to close the distance his left hand is always on the rib cage area. As a result of this, the left side of his face is continually wide open to be hit. Furthermore, whenever Khabib gets hit on the left side of his face, he freezes for a couple of seconds because he hasn’t gotten used to being punched. Therefore I would suggest that his opponents throw one or two punches to the left side of his face and immediately circle out in either direction. This strategy will force Khabib Nurmagomedov to regularly reset and go back to square one since he seems to be uncomfortable with being punched. Due to this, Khabib Nurmagomedov will start chasing his opponents around the Octagon in hopes getting a takedown which leaves him open to more strikes.
Unfortunately, Max Holloway has spent the majority of the past two months rehabilitating the ankle injury which forced him to withdraw from UFC 222. On the March 19th episode of the MMA Hour, he said that “his physical therapy has been progressing well and he’s hoping to receive doctor’s clearance to return to action soon.” Due to this, one would think that Holloway will be in subpar cardiovascular shape because he has been in rehab instead of training to fight. Therefore, the fight should be extremely competitive for the first two rounds, with Khabib’s constant pressure fatiguing Max in the later rounds.
However, if Max Holloway had a normal training camp he would beat Khabib Nurmagomedov. This is because he would have the stamina to implement an in and out game plan for five rounds. For example, every time Khabib comes forward, he can target the left side of the face by throwing the right jab followed by the right hook or straight right. Once Max is done, he has the speed to circle out of grappling range before Khabib can shoot for a takedown which forces Nurmagomedov to constantly reset.