UFC 218 brought the violence.
That was the expectation, and it didn't fail to deliver. In all, there were nine finishes out of 13 fights from the Little Caesars Arena in Detroit. Chamatkar Sandhu of MMA Junkie summed up the night:
Chamatkar Sandhu @SandhuMMA
#UFC218 delivered the round of the year, the fight of the year, the knock out of the year, Eddie Alvarez handing Justin Gaethje his first loss and Max Holloway cementing his place as the man at 145lbs hitting the repeat button on Jose Aldo. What a freaking card. Get in.2017-12-3 05:48:52
The main event brought about one of the most impressive performances of all.
Max Holloway once again defeated former featherweight kingpin Jose Aldo to retain his UFC featherweight championship via third-round TKO.
Aldo came out looking primed to put on a vintage performance. He once again turned to the leg kicks that made him famous as a dominant WEC and UFC champion. It didn't matter.
Holloway just walked right through everything Aldo had to offer and kept slinging combinations to body and head. Eventually, the volume and pressure paid off.
After two back-and-forth rounds that were difficult to score, Holloway broke through. Once Aldo's counters turned into simple survival, the champion smelled blood and went in for the finish. Although the Brazilian nearly held on to see the fourth round, Holloway swarmed and drew the TKO before the bell.
After the fight, Holloway gave credit to boxer Vasyl Lomachenko for the inspiration, per MMA Fighting:
Holloway said he watched a lot of Lomachenko heading into this fight. “I wanted to Lomachenko him.” #UFC2182017-12-3 05:37:31
Wherever he got the inspiration from, he needs to keep going back to that well. The champion is only 25 years old and now holds two wins over the greatest of all time in his weight class. That's a strong start to a title reign that looks as though it could last a while.
Holloway wasn't the only one getting in on the violence, though. Here's a look at the complete results and a closer look at all the main card action.
- Max Holloway def. Jose Aldo via third-round TKO (4:51)
- Francis Ngannou def. Alistair Overeem by first-round KO (1:42)
- Henry Cejudo def. Sergio Pettis via unanimous decision
- Eddie Alvarez def. Justin Gaethje via third-round TKO (3:59)
- Tecia Torres def. Michelle Waterson via unanimous decision
- Paul Felder def. Charles Oliveira via second-round KO (4:06)
- Yancy Medeiros def. Alex Oliveira via third-round TKO (2:02)
- David Teymur def. Drakkar Klose via unanimous decision
- Felice Herrig def. Cortney Casey via split decision
- Amanda Cooper def. Angela Magana via second-round TKO (4:34)
- Abdul Razak Alhassan def. Sabah Homasi via first-round TKO (4:21)
- Dominick Reyes def. Jeremy Kimball via first-round submission (rear-naked choke, 3:39)
- Justin Willis def. Allen Crowder via first-round KO (2:33)
Alistair Overeem vs. Francis Ngannou
Francis Ngannou will be in every heavyweight's nightmares.
Overeem was supposed to be the one to test whether the 31-year-old's meteoric rise was legitimate. The Cameroon native was 5-0, but his most impressive win was over an aging Andrei Arlovski.
Ngannou passed with flying colors.
It only took one powerful left hook to put Overeem out. After a bit of clinch fighting against the cage, the powerful heavyweight ended the night as soon as referee Dan Miragliotta broke up the wall-and-stall action.
The fight likely puts Ngannou in the driver's seat for the next shot at champion Stipe Miocic. It's a challenge the devastating striker believes he's ready for:
Ngannou: They said the winner gets a title shot. I think I got it. #UFC2182017-12-3 04:58:24
Miocic is one of just five heavyweight champions in UFC history to successfully defend the belt two times in a row. It looks like defending it a third time just got much more difficult for the current champion.
Henry Cejudo vs. Sergio Pettis
It's beginning to look like Henry Cejudo is a flyweight contender again. The former Olympic gold medalist put on a comprehensive performance against Sergio Pettis en route to a unanimous-decision victory.
Cejudo wrestled Pettis to the mat early and often as he dominated the position. Pettis had little to offer on the feet but even less to offer on the ground.
After a rousing start to the card, this one was a ho-hum one-sided affair. Cejudo never came close to finishing Pettis, but he was clearly in control of the fight.
As Shaheen Al-Shatti of MMA Fighting noted, it wasn't the kind of win that will get Cejudo the next title shot against Demetrious Johnson, but the rematch might not be far off:
Shaheen Al-Shatti @shaunalshatti
Total wrestling dominance by Henry Cejudo. Not the type of win that could break up the DJ-TJ party, but a great win nonetheless. 30-27 Cejudo.2017-12-3 04:42:27
Defeating a fighter of Pettis' caliber and making it look easy is a pretty quick way to ensure he's second in line for that title shot, especially with Mighty Mouse all but cleaning out the division already.
Justin Gaethje vs. Eddie Alvarez
The lightweight showdown between Justin Gaethje and Eddie Alvarez looked to be the odds-on favorite for Fight of the Night on paper. It didn't disappoint.
The brawling Gaethje and former champion Alvarez put on a striking battle in all three rounds. Alvarez—who is equally adept at plying a wall-and-stall grinding style as he is at brawling—obliged in a slugfest with the very hittable Gaethje, but he also absorbed tons of leg kicks.
FIVE MORE MINUTES! #UFC218 https://t.co/qEZAT6jgrL2017-12-3 04:03:11
While Gaethje was able to land leg kicks at will and scored some ripping uppercuts throughout the fight, Alvarez was just a bit more technical, which turned out to be the difference. After throwing everything he had at his ultra-durable opponent, a hellacious knee to the face in the clinch finally buckled Gaethje to the mat, and a few follow-up strikes brought about the end of the fight.
After the bout, Alvarez acknowledged the leg kicks were something he had to fight through.
Alvarez on his leg: If this was a five-rounder, i would have needed to finish it in the third. #UFC2182017-12-3 04:10:57
The loss is the first in Gaethje's career, but this was a matchup fans wouldn't mind seeing again at some point. For Alvarez, this is the perfect result to get him back in the lightweight picture after a loss to Conor McGregor and a no-contest against Dustin Poirier due to illegal knees from Alvarez.
Regardless of where both men end up, this fight was everything it was cracked up to be.
Michelle Waterson vs. Tecia Torres
In a battle of highly ranked women's strawweights, Tecia Torres made a statement against Michelle Waterson in taking a unanimous-decision victory to kick off the main card.
From the jump, it was clear Torres was the more athletically gifted fighter. Her speed and power advantage was clear as the two exchanged strikes on their feet. The UFC passed along some of the early highlights from the Tiny Tornado:
Coming out SWINGING early. #UFC218 https://t.co/jBhL6YxyhH2017-12-3 03:22:23
Waterson was able to score an early takedown that defined the second round. She was able to maintain top control for the majority of the round but landed very little of substance in stealing the round from the eventual winner.
Torres was too much for The Karate Hottie in the third and final frame once again. Torres continued to get the better of the feet and turned a Waterson takedown attempt into an advantageous position, taking Waterson's back.
Although she couldn't get the finish, Torres established her place in the women's strawweight hierarchy. It might not be long before she has a title shot to prepare for.