It’s not a matter of if Max Holloway is going to turn up the heat. It’s just a matter of when.
The UFC featherweight champion waited out two-time former titleholder Jose Aldo into the third round Saturday night in the main event of UFC 218. And as soon as Aldo slowed down, Holloway pounced.
The 25-year-old Hawaiian administered a ruthless beatdown to Aldo at Little Caesars Arena in Detroit before the referee Herb Dean finally waved the bout off at the 4:51 mark for the TKO.
“All due respect,” Holloway (19-3) said. “Aldo is a hell of a champion, but I told you.”
It was Holloway’s 12th consecutive victory, which is the fifth-longest in UFC history, and his first successful title defense.
Aldo, who had a bad weight cut heading into Saturday, got off to a solid start in the fight. Notably, he added his signature leg kicks, which had been missing in recent fights.
The two-time former champ also landed solid shots in the second round and kept Holloway honest. But it was clear as the round wound toward the end that Holloway was just getting started and Aldo was starting to fade.
Holloway went for broke in the third, delivering an absolute beatdown. Only Aldo’s toughness got him as far as he did, but he succumbed in the middle stanza as he did in their first fight at UFC 212.
“I knew he was tired already,” Holloway said. “That was the whole thing. My training camp was to bring him into deep waters, I know he can’t swim there, and then drown him.”
Aldo (26-4) lost for the third time in his past four fights. All four of his career losses have been stoppages.