We have yet another interim UFC featherweight champion, and his name is Max Holloway.
Holloway squared off with former lightweight titleholder Anthony Pettis in the main event of UFC 206 on Saturday night at Air Canada Centre in Toronto, Ont., and picked up a third-round TKO and had a nearly flawless performance.
“Blessed” looked like a man on a mission tonight. He used various angles and movement to avoid Pettis’ lethal punches and kicks and had a wide variety of strikes on the feet to offer himself. Pettis made it close in the early going, but Holloway found his groove the later the fight went. Of course, “Showtime” potentially breaking his hand in the first round helped Holloway’s bid for interim UFC gold, as well, as that limited Pettis’ offense. Holloway, though, arguably looked the best he ever has inside the Octagon, and it’s unlikely Pettis’ broken hand was absolutely fight-changing.
What was the highlight of the fight?
Holloway’s flurry at the very end of the fight was the highlight of the UFC 206 headliner. The 25-year-old landed a pair of powerful kicks to the body of Pettis, which was the beginning of the end for “Showtime.” Holloway instantly went in for the kill when he realized he had Pettis hurt. He landed ridiculously crisp and precise shots to Pettis’ head — a spectacular flurry — until the referee was forced to step in.
Where do these two go from here?
It’s pretty clear where both Holloway and Pettis go from here. Holloway, as the interim champ, will fight 145-pound titleholder Jose Aldo to unify the two belts sometime next year. UFC president Dana White was heard mentioning Brooklyn, which will play host to UFC 208 in early 2017, to Holloway after the bout, so Aldo vs. Holloway appears to be penciled in for that card.
Pettis announced in his post-fight interview that he will return to the lightweight division ahead of his next fight, as the cut down to 145 pounds was too tough for his body. He’s quite far from the title picture at 155 pounds — he’s lost three in a row at that weight. I wouldn’t mind a matchup opposite Dustin Poirier next.
Watch now, later, or never?
This was a technical battle between a young lion and a game former champion — two of the best featherweights in the UFC — that saw the young lion pick up his biggest win to date. Watch Holloway vs. Pettis as soon as possible.