With Holloway facing questions about his health after three of his fights were canceled this year, it wasn't clear what form he'd be in. As it turns out: the best form of his career.
The champion lured Ortega into a high-volume slugfest, and while the contender proved his toughness, he didn't prove his striking skill. "Blessed" landed at a much higher frequency and absorbed some damage but dished out so much more.
Holloway's stiff jab and follow-up right hand consistently found a home on Ortega's face, and he only opened up more as the fight went on.
By the fourth round, the Hawaiian called his shot. He was ending it in that frame:
Coming off Ortega's best round, in which he landed some serious hooks, elbows and uppercuts of his own, Holloway turned up the volume and eventually forced the doctor's stoppage.
The featherweight title fight wasn't the only marquee event, though. Valentina Shevchenko joined the ranks of UFC champions with a win over Joanna Jedrzejczyk in the co-main event, and Gunnar Nelson picked up a statement win over Alex Oliveira in main card action.
Here's a look at the complete results and the main card bouts:
- Max Holloway def. Brian Ortega via fourth-round TKO (doctor's stoppage)
- Valentina Shevchenko def. Joanna Jedrzejczyk via unanimous decision
- Gunnar Nelson def. Alex Oliveira via submission (RNC) (R2, 4:17)
- Hakeem Dawodu def. Kyle Bochniak via SD (28-29, 30-27 x2)
- Thiago Santos def. Jimi Manuwa via second-round KO (0:41)
- Nina Ansaroff def. Claudia Gadelha via unanimous decision (29-28 x3)
- Gilbert Burns def. Olivier Aubin-Mercier via UD (30-27 x2, 29-28)
- Jessica Eye def. Katlyn Chookagian via split decision (29-28, 28-29, 29-28)
- Elias Theodorou def. Eryk Anders via split decision (29-28, 28-29, 29-28)
- Brad Katona def. Matthew Lopez via unanimous decision (30-27, 29-28 x2)
- Dhiego Lima def. Chad Laprise via first-round KO (1:37)
- Diego Ferreira def. Kyle Nelson via second-round TKO (1:23)
- Aleksandar Rakic def. Devin Clark via first-round TKO (4:05)
Valentina Shevchenko vs. Joanna Jedrzejczyk
It might have been a decade since Valentina Shevchenko and Joanna Jedrzejczyk, but Bullet definitely still has the upper hand. She won in a convincing unanimous decision history which included a comprehensive advantage where the fight went.
The Peruvian proved to be in a different class in becoming the women's flyweight champion. Jedrzejczyk found herself beat in the grappling department as well as the striking department as the new champion showcased the skill that make her a great all-purpose fighter.
In the striking Shevchenko's triggers were just more tuned than her counterpart. Anytime Jedrzejczyk fired a combination Shevchenko had a perfectly timed counter to combat it. When she wanted to take control of the round she could simply land a takedown whenever she wanted or hold her opponent up against the cage.
MMA Analyst Hunter Homistek had an interesting comparison for the new flyweight champion.
It's going to be find someone that can make the 125-pound weight class that would give Shevchenko a challenge. Her abilities as a striker and a ground fighter will make her a tough out for anyone hoping to take that belt and be the next challenger.
Gunnar Nelson vs. Alex Oliveira
Gunnar Nelson is back from a lengthy hiatus (July 2017), but this fight wasn't for the queasy. Nelson ended the bout with a choke, but a vicious elbow on the ground had Alex Oliveira wearing a crimson mask and set up the fight-ending submission.
Oliveira had his moments. He muscled out of some precarious situations in the first round and landed some ground-and-pound.
But it takes more than muscles to consistently grapple with someone of Nelson's abilities. With another round in the books, Oliveira's lack of technical prowess haunted him.
The Iceland native once again got the fight to the mat in the second round, and that was the beginning of the end for Oliveira.
Nelson has long been the kind of talent to get these results in big moments, but staying active in the cage has been a challenge. Hopefully this is the kind of win that can set him up to make a title run for the first time.
Kyle Bochniak vs. Hakeem Dawodu
Hakeem Dawodu was given the chance to shine in front of his fellow Canadians, and he delivered a split-decision victory.
Bochniak offered a tough test, though. He stood in front of Dawodu and fought pressure with pressure in a bout that featured furious exchanges throughout. But in the end, Dawodu was the much quicker and more fluid fighter.
One judge scored two rounds for Bochniak, but that was more an aberration of judging than anything that could be said for the fighter's performance.
The win makes it two in a row for Dawodu. The 27-year-old will need to continue to win and do so even more emphatically if he wants to keep getting the talented-prospect treatment from the organization.
Thiago Santos vs. Jimi Manuwa
From the opening bell, Thiago Santos threw strikes with one goal in mind: reduce Jimi Manuwa to a pile of humanity on the mat.
Early in the second round, he got his wish. The Brazilian dialed up a left hook from hades that landed cleanly and put Manuwa down for the final time to give Santos his fourth win of 2018 and third in a row.
The first knockdown came early in the first round, as it was clear Santos was the more effective of the two power punchers:
Santos was the most active fighter in 2018, and this win should remove any doubt that 205 pounds is the correct weight class for him. Santos made his light heavyweight debut his last time out, and this result showed his power translates from middleweight.