A new era has dawned in the UFC featherweight division.
In a superlative performance, Max Holloway defeated Jose Aldo for the UFC featherweight championship on Saturday night, starting slow and then turning up the heat to win via TKO at 4:13 of the third round of UFC 212’s main event.
The victory was not only the 11th in a row for Holloway (18-3), but marked just the second defeat in 21 fights for Aldo (26-, whose various 145-pound titles reigns between the UFC and the WEC have last a total of nearly seven years.
“I’ve been telling you guys this is the ‘Blessed’ era,” Holloway said, referring to his nickname.
Aldo, a Manuas, Brazil native fighting in Rio de Janeiro, took the first round. He patiently waited on Holloway, who didn’t seem to be in much of a rush, and landed crisp counterattacks when he had the opportunity. Twice he seemed to have Holloway in trouble, but twice Holloway scampered to safety.
Holloway seemed to figure out Aldo’s timing in the second round. Aldo, known for some of the nastiest kicks in the game, rarely thew any. Holloway’s confidence built as he turned up the pace in round two, and a hematoma began to swell on the left side of Aldo’s head.
In the third, it was off to the races for the 25 year old native of Waianae, Hawaii. Holloway simply picked Aldo apart, dropped him to the mat, and went in like a predator going for the kill. Referee John McCarthy gave the champion every opportunity to save his title. But Holloway’s assault from the top was too much, and McCarthy finally waved off the bout.
The matchup put a lid on the events of the past 18 months in the division. Aldo had a six-year title reign ended via 13-second knockout at the hands of Conor McGregor in Dec. 2015. Aldo beat Frankie Edgar for an interim belt at UFC 200, then was promoted to the full title when McGregor went up to lightweight and won that championship. Meanwhile, with Aldo threatenting retirement late last year, Holloway beat Anthony Pettis to win an interim title at UFC 206, making Saturday night’s fight a unification match.