Max Holloway defeats José Aldo to become the Undisputed Featherweight Champion
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – Max Holloway cemented himself as the number one Featherweight in the world with a TKO victory over José Aldo in the main event of UFC 212. Here are our takeaways from Saturday’s event.
How about that main event? In the early stages Aldo seemed to have the advantage. He surprised Holloway with his hand speed on the counter and had the Hawaiian stunned in the opening stanza. ‘Blessed’ did not apply his usual pressure or unleash the output that we have become accustomed to.
The second round you could still sense Aldo was on top, but Holloway was growing in confidence as the fight went along, and in the third round he took over the fight. Holloway applied pressure, backing Aldo up and landing shots on the fading Champion. A one-two combination was immediately followed by another and the Brazilian crashed to the mat. Holloway was relentless looking for the finish, not only did he reign down punches he also advanced position as Aldo defend valiantly. Eventually the 25-year-old took the back and landed more strikes for the finish.
It was a brilliant performance from Holloway who is now the undisputed featherweight champion of the world. He might not be the best striker or the best grappler in the division, but his ability to change his game-plan and read an opponent throughout the fight is second to none. He is certainly a ‘Blessed’ fighter and at 25-years-old he still has plenty of time to grow even further.
For Aldo it was a crushing defeat in his home city and one that sees him dethroned as the King of the featherweights. This loss will hurt worse than the Conor McGregor knockout because this time he was figured out and beaten soundly, in front of his home fans. Whilst the McGregor loss was spectacular, it was 13 seconds of fight and we did not see how their styles matched. So what is next for Aldo? A move to lightweight for a fresh challenge is likely as he is done everything he can at Featherweight. Retirement might also be in his mind, but the Brazilian still has a lot to offer in the sport.
It opens up a new door for the featherweight division with a fresh champion and potentially fresh challengers In this exciting division. There are some young talents quickly rising up the ranks, and a potential Holloway vs Frankie Edgar match is appetising to say the least.
Cláudia Gadelha is a clear number two at Strawweight.
It is one of those dilemmas in MMA where you have a fighter that has lost to the Champion more than once, but they beat everyone else in the division. Joseph Benavidez is an example of this at flyweight, and now Gadelha has entered this position at women’s strawweight.
The Brazilian submitted the third best fighter in the division, Karolina Kowalkiewicz, in the opening round via rear naked choke in the co main event. The fight started out evenly on the feet with a slight advantage going to the Polish fighter, but once Gadelha got the takedown it was game-over. Kowalkiewicz got her back taken as she tried to get back to her feet, and the Brazilian sunk in the choke for her first stoppage victory in the UFC.
It leaves the division in an unusual state. Joanna Jędrzejczyk has defeated Gadelha twice, and if the Brazilian continues to knock off other contenders, there might be nobody left for the champion to fight. But there is hope for Gadhela as the introduction of a women’s flyweight division is imminent. Joanna has expressed her desire to conquer flyweight which could open the door for Gadelha to become champion.
Marquardt wins the fight, but Belfort gets the decision
Vitor Belfort was given a unanimous decision win over Nate Marquardt at UFC 212 on Saturday, and there seems to be a sense of home town bias in the decision.
Marquardt definitely took the opening round. He managed to get the takedown and control Belfort on the ground whilst the Brazilian struggled to engage. The second round was closer with the Brazilian having some nice flurries that got the crowd excited, but the round was mostly controlled by the American. The third round was controlled by Belfort. He stunned Marquardt and had him rocked for much of the round, but he could not follow up with a finish as Belfort was a little too patient for his own good. Most MMA media outlets scored the fight for Marquardt, but Belfort was given the decision by the judges.
Officially, Belfort may have finished his UFC career with a victory. The former UFC champion still has a single fight left on his contract, but will it be honoured. Belfort has expressed desire to continue fighting, stating he has five fights left in him, but the fact is he should retire for his own health and legacy.
One of the most anticipated fights of the evening headlined the prelims as former World Series of Fighting champion Marlon Moraes made his UFC debut against top 10 Bantamweight Raphael Assunção.
The two Brazilians battled in a tight 15 minute contest, but it was Assunção who got the split decision, spoiling the debut of Moraes and snapping his 13 fight win streak.
It was a fast start from the UFC veteran. He rocked the debutant early much to the surprise of Moraes and the MMA community. Moraes managed to hang on and collect himself to start turning thing around in the second, but he failed to do much damage to the tough Assunção. The third round was very close, making for a tough decision for the judges. In the end they saw it for Assunção with scores of 28-29, 29-28, and 30-27.
Whilst Assunção is a tough match-up for anyone in the division, it seemed clear that in the opening stages Moraes struggled with Octagon jitters. He did not look the same fighter that dominated the World Series of Fighting Bantamweight division, but it was not a bad showing for his first UFC fight. Many fighters have lost their debut in the organisation then have gone on to become champions, so it is unfair to judge Moraes on this single fight. His next fight should be against a lower ranked opponent where he may be able to show off his variety of skills.
Full UFC 212 results:
Max Holloway def. José Aldo via TKO (punches) – Round 3, 4:13
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