Max Holloway, left, fights Jose Aldo of Brazil during UFC 218 at Little Caesars Arena in Detroit on Saturday night. (Gregory Shamus / Getty Images)
Jose Aldo was undefeated for a decade and used the UFC featherweight belt for five indestructible years. So when the Brazilian was knocked out in 13 seconds by Conor McGregor two weeks ago, the blinking stunner could easily have been mistaken for a mirage. Many fans had never known a moment in MMA when the 145-pound division was the domain of someone other than the threatening Brazilian.
By the following summer, Aldo had restored order, to a certain extent. He had a shiny bronze and leather belt around his waist once more, but this meant an interim championship made necessary by McGregor's apparent lack of interest in defending at 145. The UFC eventually intervened and stripped the Irishman of his belt and gave Aldo the opportunity to recover the legitimate top point of the mountain. But his confrontation with the growing Max Holloway in June was not his way. Although Aldo won the first two rounds, the Hawaiian knocked him down in the third and finished it.
On Saturday night in Detroit, Aldo took a precious shot at redemption. Holloway had been scheduled to defend against Frankie Edgar, but the former lightweight champion suffered an eye injury and had to withdraw from the fight. Then the UFC called his former champion.
But the storybook that ended on this night was all about Holloway. Unlike the first fight, which at first did not fare so well, the 25-year-old Hawaiian remained firm and in control from the moment referee Herb Dean greeted the two men together at the start. He did not bombard Aldo; he stalked him. And although the damage seemed to be mainly in the Brazilian gas tank, apart from a small cut under the right eye, the most notable thing in his face was that his mouth was wide open, it was clear that this was his fight and he knew that. Aldo perhaps knew it too.
Before the third round ended, Aldo was finished. Holloway progressed methodically and his rival gave way until the cage stopped his retreat. And at that moment, in the middle of the third, Holloway unleashed a blast that made the elite striker Aldo an aspiring wrestler. This was a sign that the end was near. And it was.
When the fight went to the mat, Holloway finished at the top and made the most of it. The only drama was if he was going to finish the job before the horn. He did, since Dean jumped to 4:51 of the round after issuing several "fight" warnings to Aldo that got no response.
After jumping over the cage to celebrate with his family, Holloway made sure to comfort Dede Pedernairas, Aldo's life coach. Then he climbed back into the cage to give him more respect. While being interviewed at the center of the octagon, he was asked if Aldo's final (26-4), the man considered the best featherweight in the history of the sport, made him the best of all now. Holloway shook his head before the question was over.
"Nah, I have a lot to catch up," said Holloway (19-3), who won 12 in a row. "You have to respect the man."
And you must respect a clbady, humble champion
Featherweight Championship: Max Holloway def. José Aldo via TKO (Round 3, 4:51)
Holloway advances from the beginning, and Aldo is giving ground. The former champion is not pulling much, he's just being out of reach. But he is being harbaded. The talk before the fight was that the difference this time was going to be that the Brazilian was going to be able to throw his lethal kicks on this occasion, after having an injury that prevented a lot of that in the first meeting. Well, at the beginning it is not pulling much. However, he is not being beaten, as Holloway stalks patiently, taking advantage of his range advantage and controlling distance. Halfway through the round, Aldo unleashes a combo but does not cause significant damage. It connects with some good body shots, but for the most part it does not show much of old Aldo. Maybe what it shows is that, at only 31 years old, Aldo is old.
Aldo increases his activity only a little, mainly with kicks in the legs. They do not come frequently, but when they do, they have bad intentions. Holloway, for his part, continues patiently advancing behind his hard jab. When Aldo throws, either a hit or a kick, he pulls hard. It does not connect when it hunts at the head, but it is investing in solid bodywork. But Holloway seems imperturbable. It's Aldo whose mouth is open. He is the one with the cut face, courtesy of the champion's jab-jab-jab attack. And as the round moves down, Aldo again seems that going to five rounds would be a difficult task for him. Maybe that's why he's throwing big leather: to finish the night quickly Holloway, on the other hand, it seems he could fight all weekend.
Aldo comes out of his corner looking impbadive. Composite, but without urgency. Throw a good knee and then a strong kick in the leg. But every shot he takes lacks an accompaniment. Without combos. And Holloway continues to advance. The champion drops his arms to the sides and shows his opponent his face, and that provokes a burst of Aldo. But he hits the air. And he's sucking air, his mouth open. Holloway, looking cool, moves and lures Aldo into another blast, and while they both connect, it's Aldo who seems to be fading. Even when it connects with a right on the right, it can not stop Holloway in its tracks. Aldo is giving ground, looking like a man waiting for his moment. The wrestlers cling to the cage, and Holloway pushes a knee into Aldo's waist that takes the Brazilian's life. Aldo is slow and sated, throwing a blow for every five of Holloway. It's awesome to see how they hit him like that. After a right hand throws him back into the cage, Aldo tries to defend himself but eats a knee. It's a matter of time. After Holloway connects with a dozen hits, Aldo launches forward for a takedown, but ends up in the background, with punches that rained down on him. The round is closing, but after Holloway lands with several rights and lefts on Aldo's bloody face, referee Herb Dean jumps and ends with 9 seconds left.
These are the results of the remainder of the night :
Francis NGannou def. Alistair Overeem via KO (Round 1, 1:42)
The heavyweight division in MMA – and boxing, for that matter – is always looking for the next big thing. Big and brutal is even better, and that is what Ngannou brings to the image. On this night, his brutality was chilling.
The 31-year-old native of Cameroon, who now lives and trains in Las Vegas, had only 10 previous MMA bouts, half of them in the UFC. And he was facing one of the most decorated forwards in combat sports. Overeem is a former K-1 kickboxing world champion who also won MMA belts in Strikeforce and dream promotions. The 38-year-old Dutchman has been with many of the greats. However, he seemed to know what he was facing by the way he tried to turn the fight into a fight in the first minute, closing himself against the cage.
But once Ngannou created the separation, and once these big men stood up for toe in the center of the octagon: it only took one hit. Ngannou delivered a couple of strokes away that only hit the air, but when Overeem ducked his head and threw a left hook, Ngannou responded with an explosive of his own that connected on his chin and sent "The Reem" stiffly falling on his back . Game over.
This was the stuff that the stars are made of. Ngannou celebrated with his corners. The crowd "ooh" ansd "ahhed" in the video replays of the KO arena. And Overeem remained on his back, with medical personnel fluttering to badess the damage of that single blow.
Of course, the damage of a man is the reward of another man, if that other man is the promoter. UFC matchmakers certainly can not wait to book NGannou for a date with heavyweight champion Stipe Miocic. It will be great This was Ngannou's fourth consecutive final in the first round. Miocic has four consecutive first-round finals as well.
Another thing they have in common: Ngannou and Miocic are gentlemen. They will not need to talk to Conor McGregor's trash for the fans to line up and watch them hit. They just need to show up on the night of the fight and do what they do: be big and brutal.
Henry Cejudo def. Sergio Pettis by unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27)
Cejudo came to MMA four years ago with a brilliant pedegree, brilliant as in gold. At the Beijing Olympics in 2008, he became the youngest American wrestler, at the age of 21, to win a gold medal. This was his seventh fight in the UFC, and one of them was last year's challenge from flyweight champion Demetrious Johnson. Since the defeat of TKO in the first round, Cejudo (12-2) has been trying to return to the top. On this night, he was also entrusted to stop the promotion of Pettis, who came to win four in a row.
Well, Pettis (16-3) could share a Milwaukee fitness gym with another Olympic (welterweight) athlete Ben Aksren), but he has never been in a real fight with a fighter like the one who covered him on Saturday. the night. For three rounds, Cejudo stalked his prey long enough to take him to the canvas, and maintained top control while threatening enough to prevent the referee from lifting the fighters out of inaction. It was a meow. Even when Pettis was on his feet, he was frozen by the worry of being put on his back again. He simply had no answer, but at 24, he has a future in which to find something.
Eddie Alvarez def. Justin Gaethje via TKO (Round 3, 3:59)
If you're a college football fan and you saw Central Florida's 62-55 victory in overtime over Memphis in the Athletic Conference championship game American, this lightweight fight was basically a fist version of that, only with less defense.
Alvarez, the former UFC champion and Bellator belt holder before that, raised his hand at the end, but calling him the winner was ignoring his right cheek grotesquely swollen, the cuts above and below each eye and the left calf Reddened and weakened she received so many hard kicks that she had to change positions in boxing and, even so, she could barely move without bending her leg.
However, it was Gaethje who took the brunt, as Álvarez (29-5, 1 NC) moved patiently within reach to attack the body, sapping the energy of the former World Series of Combat champion and leaving him throw haymaking machines. It landed a little, but when it failed, it was lost by a mile. And when he got into a knee that connected with his chin, Gaethje (18-1) had finished and also his career undefeated throughout his career.
Def. Tecia Torres Michelle Waterson by unanimous decision (30-27, 29-28, 29-28)
Waterson receives the nickname "The Karate Hottie", but when these fish bomb exchanged blows from afar while standing, it was Torres – who has a black belt in karate, as his opponent, and also has one in taekwondo – who got the best of things. Waterson did his best work once she closed the distance and fought to the canvas. But once there, he inflicted minimal damage, mainly only by maintaining the highest position.
Torres (10-1), whose only professional loss came last year against current 115-pound champion Rose Namajunas, was the aggressor and the importance of his punches showed in Waterson's face (14-6) . When the last minute ended, Torres threatened to finish. But the fight was for the judges, who saw the 28-year-old winner as the clear winner.
Lightweight: Paul Felder def. Charles Oliveira via KO (Round 2, 4:06)
Welterweight: def. Yancy Medeiros Alex Oliveira via TKO (Round 3, 2:02)
Lightweight: David Teymur def. Drakkar Klose by unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 29-28)
Strawweight: Felice Herrig def. Cortney Casey by split decision (29-28, 28-29, 29-28)
FIRST RESULTS OF PRELIMS
Strawweight: Amanda Cooper def. Angela Magana via TKO (Round 2, 4:34)
Welterweight: Abdul Razak Alhbadan def. Sabah Homasi via TKO (Round 1, 4:21)
Lightweight lightweight: Dominick Reyes def. Jeremy Kimball through submission (naked back choke, Round 1, 3:39)
Heavyweight: Justin Willis def. Allen Crowder via TKO (Round 1, 2:33)