Max Holloway (Dave Mandel/Sherdog)

UFC Fight Night: Holloway vs. Allen Preview and Predictions

On Saturday, Apr. 15, the UFC will come back to Kansas City six years to the day after their debut in the “Paris of the Plains,” when UFC Fight Night: Holloway vs. Allen lands at the T-Mobile Center. Headlining the show will be a top-five featherweight showdown between former champion Max Holloway and fourth-ranked contender Arnold Allen.

Holloway lost his UFC title to Alexander Volkanovski back in 2019, and, since then, he has tried to capture it back from the Aussie twice, albeit unsuccessfully. After their first rematch, which ended in a split decision, Holloway was able to pick up wins over Calvin Kattar and now-interim champ Yair Rodriguez. However, in the trilogy fight with Volk last July, the Hawaiin lost a third decision, but still sits as the No. 2 contender. Allen, on the other hand, has followed a different path.

The Englishman had a 9-1 record as a pro when he entered the UFC eight years ago, and he has not lost since. He is currently riding a 12-fight winning streak, with the last 10 coming inside the Octagon. Allen’s last two wins were both by TKO over Dan Hooker and the aforementioned Kattar, which was in Oct. 2022. He has quietly been running through the featherweight division with eyes on the title. This is a huge fight for both men, as the victor will most likely challenge the winner of the title-unification bout, which takes place at UFC 290 in Las Vegas to cap off International Fight Week in July.


The co-main event features one of the kings of the highlight reel in veteran Edson Barboza, who will take on New York native Billy Quarantillo in a featherweight battle. These two have had very different trajectories in the last few years, as the Brazilian is 2-5 in his last seven outings, whereas the American is 2-5 in his last seven, which is his entire UFC career. The former lightweight Barboza is still clinging onto the No. 14 spot in the featherweight rankings, while Quarantillo is on that upward climb, trying to secure a spot in the rankings.

Elsewhere on the main card is a pair of light heavyweight bouts with Dustin Jacoby facing Azamat Murzakanov and Ion Cutelaba fighting Tanner Boser. Also, the ninth-ranked bantamweight Pedro Munhoz will face the surging Chris Gutierrez, while the seemingly never-aging veteran Clay Guida will take on Rafa Garcia.

UFC Fight Night: Holloway vs. Allen airs live in its entirety on ESPN+ starting at 5:30 p.m. ET. The main card also airs on ESPN at 8:30 p.m. ET. Combat Press writers Andrew Sumian and Dan Kuhl provide their preview and predictions in this week’s edition of Toe-to-Toe.

The only person to beat Max Holloway at featherweight since 2013 is Alexander Volkanovski; does Arnold Allen become just the second man in a decade to take out the former champion in his natural division?

Sumian: I really want to believe that Arnold Allen can be the type of contender that could become a UFC featherweight champion. However, defeating Max Holloway to claim the number-one contender status is an entirely different animal.

Allen has yet to defeat a formidable featherweight contender, despite his impressive 12-fight winning streak. There are certainly some good names on this campaign, which include Gilbert Melendez, Dan Hooker, and Sodiq Yusuff. His signature win should have been against Calvin Kattar, but that bout ended due to an injury suffered by the latter. Now, Allen is ranked in the top-five of the division without ever pulling off an impressive victory against the top guys at 145. He is a prolific puncher with power, speed and athleticism. He lands 3.40 significant strikes per minute and a solid 1.25 takedowns per bout. Despite all this, we have yet to see a win over a top-five contender that would make me believe he is championship material. On Saturday night, he will have the opportunity to seize the top contender spot and set himself up against the winner of Volk and Rodriguez after they square off in July.

What is there to say about Max Holloway? He is, without a doubt, one of the best featherweights in the world and a future Hall of Famer. Yet, he will forever be haunted by the name Alexander Volkanovski, who has likely taken his place as the second best featherweight of all time, behind Jose Aldo. Holloway’s best chance of getting back to the title is if Yair Rodriguez is somehow able to defeat Volkanovski in July. We already know that Holloway has some of the best boxing in MMA and is capable of competing with top-tier fighters. If Holloway is able to defeat Allen this coming Saturday, he will eagerly be waiting for the title-unification bout, so he can make his next move.

Allen is good, but not Holloway-good. This is a huge step-up for the British featherweight, and he will be in for a rude awakening when Holloway punishes him for 25 straight minutes. Holloway will use his superior footwork, boxing and speed to dance around Allen and land combinations consistently. This performance will remind fans why he is still one of the best active featherweights and solidify his spot as the current best featherweight behind Volkanovski.

Kuhl: I agree with my colleague on most of his points. There is not really anything to say about Holloway that even the casual fan doesn’t already know. Even though he is still only 31 years old, he has a ton of fights, with 16 going the distance, and he has only been stopped once, which was a submission to Dustin Poirier in his UFC debut 11 years ago. The biggest issue for me with this one lies in Allen.

It would have been great to see the Kattar-Allen fight actually play out in its entirety. That fight lasted one round before Kattar hurt his knee. Of course, Allen clearly won the first round, outstriking Kattar, but we’ve seen that change quickly in distance fights. Many of Allen’s UFC wins were over guys who are now either retired or released from the UFC, and his only real flash of brilliance was in his TKO of Dan Hooker, which was a lopsided drubbing. To just step into a Holloway fight is a completely different animal.

Holloway has gone the distance three times with Volkanovaski, who is currently one of the top-three, pound-for-pound fighters in the world. How does Allen prepare for that? Is he going to outstrike Holloway? Probably not. He will lose a decision for sure. Does he submit Holloway? Even if he gets him to the ground, he won’t be able to keep him there. Knockout? Those odds sit at +600, so not highly likely.
This one goes five full rounds, and Holloway comes out on top.

All-action fighter Edson Barboza has struggled mightily in recent years, going just 3-7 over his last 10 fights; can the former lightweight contender make a statement and defeat rising featherweight prospect Billy Quarantillo?

Kuhl: It seems like a decade ago when Barboza knocked out Terry Etim with a spinning wheel kick, which will forever live in the highlight reels of the greatest knockouts of all time. It actually was a decade ago – 11 years to be exact. The biggest problem for Barboza’s attempt at a lightweight title run was timing. Just as he was bursting on the scene, a number of factors, including the WEC merger, found the UFC lightweight division the most stacked it had arguably ever been in history. Every top-20 opponent was a potential woodchipper. At this point, the 38-year-old Brazilian is 16-11 in his UFC career, and he is on his third losing streak in just over five years.

Billy Quarantillo entered the UFC from the Contender Series back in Jul. 2019. Since then, he has put on some fantastic performances with knockouts of Kyle Nelson, Gabriel Benitez, and, most recently, Alexander Hernandez. His only two UFC losses were decisions to Gavin Tucker and Shane Burgos. He also holds a black belt in BJJ and trains out of Gracie Tampa South in Florida. He is very well-rounded, compared to Barboza’s striking-heavy approach.

This one is a match-up between a classic striker and a well-rounded fighter, who can dominate anywhere. Barboza has taken a lot of damage in his career, and it have shown in his recent fights. While anyone is in danger of a flash knockout from him, he is steps behind where he was several years ago. Quarantillo has a fresher, more modern approach to fighting, and a better all-around style. He also has a lot less miles on the chassis, which equates to better cardio, and the ability to take more damage in his fights.

I do believe Barboza can make it to the end of Round 3, but, if he does, it will be after sustaining relentless attacks from Quarantillo on the feet and the ground, and his losing streak will extend to three. Quarantillo will finally enter the rankings, and Barboza might be making his last Octagon appearance.

Sumian: I love Barboza as much as the next guy, but I agree with my colleague here.

Barboza’s time is up, and Quarantillo is an exciting, well-rounded, and developed fighter who is hitting his stride. Barboza won’t make it easy on him, and will certainly cause some damage utilizing his kicks and speed. However, Quarantillo will weather the storm and utilize his strength and well-rounded attack to win a 29-28 unanimous decision. This won’t be the type of performance to write home about, but it will be enough to elevate Quarantillo to the next level as a contender in the division.

What one fighter’s UFC career is on the ropes at this event?

Sumian: Ion Cutelaba is on his way out. Not only is he unbearable due to his irritating personality and unnecessary aggression, but also on a three fight losing streak all by way of finish. He will be finished by Tanner Boser and find himself looking for a new home after Saturday.

Kuhl: Edson Barboza is all but done. As I mentioned above, he missed his opportunity a long time ago, because, for a number of reasons, when he was in his prime, the UFC lightweight division got flooded with a ton of world-class talent. He has not fared well in his drop to featherweight, and his career is effectively over. I’m not even sure how he manages to stay at No. 14, which reflects just how lacking in depth the featherweight division currently is. It’s time to make way for the up-and-coming new talent.

Which fight is the sleeper match-up on this card?

Kuhl: Piera Rodriguez and Gillian Robertson could be a banger. Robertson is a slick submission artist, who is a big threat on the mat, but Rodriguez is a grinder, especially on the ground. There are two ways this could play out. We could see a highly technical ground battle that will eventually end with a Ronertson submission or a Rodriguez TKO. The other option is that they try to keep it on the feet, knowing they are both a ground threat – albeit for different reasons – and Rodriguez takes the decision. Either way, this should be an action-packed war.

Sumian: Pedro Munhoz vs. Chris Gutierrez is by no means a sleeper, but it is easily the best fight on this card, beside the main event. There will be punching and kicking galore, filled with non-stop action from start to finish. I have yet to witness a boring Pedro Munhoz fight, and I do not expect it to go differently this weekend.

Who takes home the “Performance of the Night” honors?

Sumian: Chris Gutierrez is going to be the first person to finish Pedro Munhoz, you heard it here first. Gutierrez is a nightmare matchup for Munhoz, and he is going to dazzle fans with a TKO victory and earn himself a deserving “Fight of the Night” bonus.

Kuhl: I think the performance bonus will go to the winner of Dustin Jacoby vs. Azamat Murzakanov. Both of these guys are serious strikers. The undefeated Russian is coming in with nine knockouts in his 12-fight career. The former GLORY kickboxer Jacoby has outstruck every one of his opponents in his current UFC stint, including Khalil Rountree, who somehow picked up a bogus split decision win in Jacoby’s last fight. It’s hard to predict who will win this one, but whoever does will likely walk away with some extra dough.

Pair this card with…

Kuhl: This is a 14-fight card with fighters representing 11 different nations. Mix it up. I’m thinking Latin-inspired appetizers to get the evening started, some English beers, and some grilled pineapple and pork tenderloin to top it off. Either way, we will likely see a lot of different flags represented in the ring, so might as well mirror that with the spread.

Sumian: A full English breakfast and Hawaii poke. Pay tribute to the two main event fighters by starting your day off with a traditional “fry-up” breakfast, before enjoying the main card with some delicious Hawaiian-style food from your local poke spot. This is a good Fight Night card, and it will entertain from start to finish.

Fight Sumian’s Pick Kuhl’s Pick
Main Card (ESPN+, 7 p.m. ET)
FW: Max Holloway vs. Arnold Allen Holloway Holloway
FW: Edson Barboza vs. Billy Quarantillo Quarantillo Quarantillo
LHW: Dustin Jacoby vs. Azamat Murzakanov Jacoby Jacoby
LHW: Ion Cutelaba vs. Tanner Boser Boser Boser
BW: Pedro Munhoz vs. Chris Gutierrez Gutierrez Gutierrez
LW: Clay Guida vs. Rafa Garcia Garcia Garcia
Preliminary Card (ESPN+, 4 p.m. ET)
FW: TJ Brown vs. Bill Algeo Brown Algeo
FlyW: Brandon Royval vs. Matheus Nicolau Nicolau Royval
LHW: Ed Herman vs. Zak Cummings Cummings Cummings
Women’s StrawW: Piera Rodriguez vs. Gillian Robertson Rodriguez Rodriguez
LW: Lando Vannata vs. Daniel Zellhuber Zellhuber Vannata
Women’s StrawW: Bruna Brasil vs. Denise Gomes Brasil Brasil
BW: Gaston Bolanos vs. Aaron Phillips Bolanos Bolanos
Women’s BW: Joselyne Edwards vs. Lucie Pudilova Pudilova Pudilova