Max Holloway won the undisputed featherweight championship with a third-round TKO victory over Jose Aldo in the main event of UFC 212 in Rio de Janeiro on Saturday night.
Both Aldo and Holloway entered the matchup with legitimate claim to the title of best 145-pound fighter in the world. Aldo is one of the greatest mixed martial artists already at the age of 30, with a 26-2 career prior to the bout, while Holloway came into the fight riding a 10-fight winning streak over the last three years.
In the end, Holloway was able to prevail and leave no doubt about the best fighter in the division.
UFC 212 Results
Featherweight Championship: Max Holloway def. Jose Aldo via TKO (third round)
Women's Strawweight: Claudia Gadelha def. Karolina Kowalkiewicz via submission (first round)
Middleweight: Vitor Belfort def. Nate Marquardt via unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28)
Middleweight: Paulo Borrachinha def. Oluwale Bamgbose via TKO (second round)
Welterweight: Yancy Medeiros def. Erick Silva via TKO (second round)
Bantamweight: Raphael Assuncao def. Marlon Moraes via split decision (28-29, 29-28, 30-27)
Middleweight: Antonio Carlos Junior def. Eric Spicely via submission (second round)
Bantamweight: Matthew Lopez def. Johnny Eduardo via TKO (first round)
Bantamweight: Brian Kelleher def. Iuri Alcantara via submission (first round)
Women's Strawweight: Viviane Pereira def. Jamie Moyle via unanimous decision (29-28, 30-27, 30-27)
Welterweight: Luan Chagas def. Jim Wallhead via submission (second round)
Flyweight: Deiveson Figueiredo def. Marco Beltran via TKO (second round)
Holloway's win capped off his rise to stardom. The 25-year-old's last loss was against Conor McGregor in 2013. McGregor's career exploded after knocking out Aldo in 13 seconds at UFC 194 in December 2015.
This was Holloway's biggest fight in UFC, and he made it count in grand fashion with a third-round stoppage.
After Holloway disposed of Aldo, social media expressed its respect for the Hawaii native:
Chase Sherman @ChaseShermanUFC
Forget Mcgregor-Mayweather. Give us Mcgregor - Holloway 2. #UFC2122017-6-4 04:33:49
Ariel Helwani @arielhelwani
Can't help but feel like UFC brass are happy. Yes, Holloway lost to McGregor moons ago, but this freshens things up in a big way @ 145.2017-6-4 04:42:32
Ariel Helwani @arielhelwani
Holloway debuted on short notice in 2012 when he was just 21. Been remarkable to see him evolve as a fighter and a person.2017-6-4 04:31:55
Holloway: This is the Blessed era. Dana White, where’s my 50K? I want my check. #UFC2122017-6-4 04:32:52
Kevin Iole @KevinI
Amazing, incredible, tremendous performance by Holloway. He's a star2017-6-4 04:28:22
Prior to the main event, the biggest story of the show was Vitor Belfort and Nate Marquardt fighting all 15 minutes.
Belfort in particular is not known for having long, drawn-out battles. Saturday marked his first match that went past the second round since his 2012 light-heavyweight title fight against Jon Jones and his first fight decided by the judges since Cage Rage 23 in 2007.
The judges awarded Belfort a unanimous-decision win, with all three scoring the fight 29-28 for the 40-year-old.
Following the win, Belfort didn't sound like he was going to hang up his gloves anytime soon, per MMA Fighting:
Belfort: I’ve got five more fights to go. I’m going to reinvent myself and come back different every time. #UFC2122017-6-4 03:31:40
This was Belfort's first win since November 2015 against Dan Henderson. Retired UFC fighter Patrick Cote thinks this would be the perfect way for Belfort to end his long and storied career:
patrick cote @patrick_cote
that would be the best time for Belfort to retire . Winning at home at 40 years old... #legend #ufc212 #timetohangup2017-6-4 03:42:38
Whatever Belfort decides to do, getting a hard-fought and emotional win over Marquardt in his native Brazil was exactly what he needed after a difficult two-year stretch in the sport.
Holloway made himself a star on this night, but the entire card made this a highlight of the year for UFC. There were 12 total fights, with nine endings via stoppage.
It was a thrilling showcase for the Brazilian fans, even though their hometown hero was unable to capture the undisputed featherweight title in the main event.