UFC 212 finally brought some clarity to the UFC Featherweight Division that has languished in the last 18 months in the shadow of Conor McGregor’s 13-second knockout of longtime division king Jose Aldo, McGregor’s subsequent stripping of the title, and the creation two interim championships.
In the end, there’s a new king at 145 – a 25-year-old Hawaiian named Max. Max Holloway took his crown with a third round TKO stoppage of Aldo. Holloway was slow out of the gate, giving up the first two rounds to Aldo, but it was becoming apparent towards the end of the second round that Aldo was tiring. As Aldo was throwing punches at Holloway late in the second frame, Holloway laughed off the offensive attempts of Aldo and asked him for more. Holloway took over in the third, knocking Aldo down with a right hand and then taking mount while raining down dozens of unanswered blows while Aldo tried to cover up. Referee John McCarthy gave Aldo ample time to get out of the compromising position and stopped the fight just as Aldo was trying to give a thumbs up to say he was okay.
Unfortunately for the former champ, raised thumbs don’t win fights, but punches do.
Holloway used his post-fight interview time to make two requests of his promotion. First, a $50,000 performance bonus, and second, a chance to headline a UFC event in Hawaii. UFC delivered on his first request, awarding Holloway vs. Aldo the Fight of the Night honors. The second request is up in the air, but if there was ever a time for UFC to take a Hawaiian vacation, that time would be now.
Hiscoe’s Analysis: Holloway impressed me last night. I was expecting an Aldo win, but Holloway was patient and capitalized on Aldo’s tendency to slow down as fights go on. This was clear and decisive, with nothing in dispute. We really could be looking at a changing of the guard at featherweight as Max Holloway is only 25 years old. Not only that, but he’s a well-seasoned 25, as he has 17 UFC fights under his (gold) belt. That said, Frankie Edgar may have something to say about that and I can’t wait to see that fight – in Hawaii or wherever it happens.
It will be very interesting to see how Aldo bounces back from this. Does he move up to 155? Does he try and get back into title contention? Or will he move on to other ventures like he’s alluded to in the past? Aldo was a dominant, if not frustrating, champion who deserves immense credit for dominating a division for as long as he did.
SUNDAY NOTEBOOK ITEMS…
-Performance bonuses also went to Brian Kelleher and Claudia Gadelha. Kelleher upset Iuri Alcantara with a third-round TKO and followed up with one of the most impassioned post-fight interviews in some time. Gadelha fought like she was double parked outside Jeunesse Arena, submitting Karolina Kowalkiewicz in three minutes.
-Vitor Belfort claimed after his fight that he had “five more fights” left. Whether he meant that figuratively or contractually, is unclear as Belfort had previously talked of retirement and fighting outside of UFC leading up to this fight.
-At last night’s post-fight press conference, Max Holloway said of the last man to defeat him, current lightweight champion Conor McGregor, “If he wants to come back down, he can come and get it.”
-UFC announced on the pay-per-view broadcast that Kazushi Sakuraba will be inducted to the UFC Hall of Fame Pioneer Wing at the July 6 ceremony from Las Vegas.
-UFC reported an attendance of 15,412 for the event from Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
-Retired former UFC Light Heavyweight Champion Chuck Liddell posted a picture to his Instagram of a staredown between himself and recently retired Tito Ortiz with the caption: “Why not?” Liddell has been said to have had talks with Bellator President Scott Coker and has openly discussed the possibility of a comeback.
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(MMATorch’s Daily News Digest features the top story of the day with added analysis, plus smaller tidbits in the News Notes section. Mike Hiscoe, who writes the News Digest Sundays through Thursdays, has a background in film criticism and previously wrote for the DVD Town and Movie Metropolis websites. His passion for Mixed Martial Arts goes back to 2005, but it was in the promotion for UFC 60: Hughes vs. Gracie that he really got hooked.”This is my house, I build it,” is still among the all-time great UFC promos. You can follow Mike on social media under the tag @mikehiscoe. He now provides his experienced writing and perspective on live MMA events for MMATorch.)