Hawaii has a UFC titleholder once again.
Max Holloway is the new, undisputed featherweight champion, having gone into Brazil and dethroned Jose Aldo by 3rd round TKO. Aldo got off to a terrific start and had Holloway stunned in the opening frame, but Holloway slowly found his range and timing to land clean shots on Aldo. The combination punching he used to dispatch Jose at the end was gorgeous. He was landing savage blows on the ground from full mount, and when the rear-naked choke didn’t come, he just kept punching a turtled up Aldo until John McCarthy had seen enough.
This was a really good fight and a tremendous performance from Holloway. Not only does he have eleven straight wins, but he’s just stopped Anthony Pettis and Jose Aldo in back-to-back fights. That’s absolutely phenomenal. He has grown into an absolute offensive powerhouse. I assume he’ll be fighting Frankie Edgar next, and if he beats him — hell, if he stops him — then I believe we’re looking at Holloway becoming a dominant champion.
More thoughts on tonight’s card:
- As elated as I am for Holloway, I am equally sad that this is essentially the end of the Jose Aldo era. He is the greatest featherweight of all-time and was awe-inspiring to watch in the WEC and UFC cage for years, but short of Edgar beating Holloway to set up a trilogy matchup, Aldo is not getting that belt back. I absolutely believe he’s more than good enough to beat most of the top guys at 145, but the way Holloway took him apart in parts of round 2 and really all of round 3 signified a passing of the torch. It is unfortunate that his UFC career was marred by numerous fight cancellations (of which not all were caused by his injuries), a lack of highlight reel finishes WEC fans had grown accustomed to, and then the 13-second loss to Conor McGregor in his one high-profile mainstream fight. I’m dreading to think how fans who haven’t followed Aldo from the start will remember his career.
- No, McGregor isn’t coming back to 145 to fight Holloway. Will Holloway go up to 155 to fight McGregor? Ehhhhhh. I’d love for Holloway to rematch McGregor at some point but that’s probably not going to happen any time soon. Besides, Max Holloway vs. Floyd Mayweather is the obvious fight to make.
- Holloway was begging for a $50,000 bonus in the post-fight interview. That guy just won the UFC featherweight title, for crying out loud. Bonus begging at the highest level of the UFC is just so sad.
- Post-publish bullet, but I suspect Aldo’s lack of leg kicks (again) may have a lot to do with him breaking his foot in the Chan Sung Jung fight. Because while he did throw 20-something leg kicks against Lamas, he barely threw any in the Mendes rematch, the McGregor fight ... yeah, and then he didn’t throw many of those against Edgar at UFC 200. Just something to consider.
- UFC 212 wasn’t a very compelling card on paper, but it certainly delivered plenty of entertainment. Only three fights went the distance, which led to this card ending at a little bit after 12:30 AM ET, which is ideal.
- Wow. Claudia Gadelha just schooled Karolina Kowalkiewicz as soon as she got the fight to the ground. I said it in the fight picks on Friday, Gadelha is the Joseph Benavidez of women’s strawweight. She may not be able to beat the champion, but she’ll damn well beat everyone else in the division. Great win for the Brazilian and a tough way to lose for Kowalkiewicz.
- Vitor Belfort actually won by decision. This hasn’t happened in ten years! What a world we live in. He edged out Nate Marquardt 29-28 on all three scorecards, although Marquardt probably is unlucky no judge gave him round 2. I guess that singular Vitor flurry was enough to earn him that round, and thus the victory. That’s how I scored it, too. Belfort says he has five more fights left in him, and uh ... I hope they’re not all like the Marquardt bout.
- Oluwale Bamgbose came out like a mad man, hellbent on emptying his entire gas tank in round 1 against fellow one-round fighter Paulo Henrique Costa. It turns out this didn’t work out as planned, and Borrachinha put him away in round 2 with ground-and-pound after he fell back on a kick. This was a fun fight, largely thanks to Bamgbose’s outrageous strategy. Borrachinha did well to stay calm and not get overwhelmed, and he’s 2-for-2 inside the Octagon.
- Eduardo Herdy is famous for being an awful referee, and I believe that Erick Silva was the victim of a premature stoppage against Yancy Medeiros. He was floored by a Medeiros left hook, but it looked like he was intelligently defending himself and trying to improve his position on the ground, then Herdy stepped in to end it. I’ll take an early stoppage over what Mario Yamasaki did in the Johnny Eduardo-Matt Lopez fight, but it wasn’t a great call to me. Either way, Silva has now been knocked down four times in his last three fights.
- I’m not going to pretend Marlon Moraes clearly beat Raphael Assuncao (even though I had him winning), but that 30-27 Assuncao scorecard is garbage. It felt like another example of judges just completely ignoring body work, of which Moraes delivered plenty of kicks and punches to the body. Assuncao admittedly landed the two biggest strikes of the fight, with right hands rocking Moraes in rounds 1 and 3, but I don’t see how Assuncao could’ve taken the third. All three judges gave him round 3 and I find that to be preposterous. Anyway, Assuncao has a knack for winning close decisions, and Moraes ends up losing his UFC debut. This fight wasn’t that good but it probably should’ve been five rounds, but that’s just me on my “quality fights should be five rounds” soapbox.
- Antonio Carlos Junior and Eric Spicely had an intriguing grappling battle, including an extended period of 50-50 guard in the first round. Carlos Junior did ultimately prove to be too much for Spicely in round 2, as he had a terrific back take, with body triangle in place, and a fantastic rear-naked choke. Shoeface has three straight wins and he surely has earned himself a ranked opponent.
- Matthew Lopez demolished Johnny Eduardo. I mean he absolutely demolished him on the ground. “Late” doesn’t even begin to describe Mario Yamasaki’s stoppage. I assume he was waiting for Eduardo’s head to literally detach before calling it off. Anyway, Lopez looked great, and I honestly don’t see any reason for Eduardo to be ranked anymore.
- Brian Kelleher had a late call-up to fight Iuri Alcantara, and stunned the Brazilian fans with an absolutely lethal guillotine finish against a guy who hadn’t been submitted in eight years. Then Kelleher taunted the Brazilian fans in the post-fight interview, throwing the “Uh vai morrer!” chant back in their faces, and he enjoyed soaking up all the hate from them. He also called for a top-10 opponent and also a spot on the Long Island card in July, which would mean a home fight for him. Consider me quite entertained by the New Yorker.
- Women’s strawweight Viviane Pereira improved to 2-0 in the UFC with a comfortable unanimous decision win over a Jamie Moyle, who was easily outstruck. The fight was not good to watch and there’s really not much else to report out of this one.
- Luan Chagas turned in a quality performance against Jim Wallhead (who for some reason didn’t have the UFC logo on his gloves) . His striking was excellent, he stuffed the takedowns, took his time, didn’t show any signs of waning cardio, and finished a tough-as-nails Wallhead with a left hook and then a rear-naked choke. Chagas is one of those guys who is definitely talented but raw, so tonight’s vastly improved showing is a step in the right direction.
- Deiveson Alcantara looked very good against Marco Beltran, stopping Beltran with an uppercut and hammerfists at the end of round 2. Osiris Maia called the fight off before round 3 could begin, and I have no issue with the stoppage given how badly hurt Beltran was. It’s been a rough week for Beltran, whose mother passed away just a few days ago from cancer.