Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) Featherweight strikers Jose Aldo and Max Holloway clashed last night (June 3, 2017) at UFC 212 inside Jeunesse Arena in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
Heading into this bout, Aldo expected to be tested by another lanky, movement-heavy kickboxer, and this time he planned to come out on top. Despite already being one of the best to ever compete, another win here — defending his newly regained title — would go a long way in securing his legacy further. Meanwhile, the win streak Holloway accomplished simply to earn this fight was pretty incredible. Of the many interim champs crowned in recent years, Holloway was more deserving than most, but the Hawaiian still had to take out a legend to earn the real thing.
The fight opened with a lengthy feeling out process, as both men generally do their best work on the counter. A couple minutes in, Aldo landed the first real combination of the fight, cracking his foe with a left hook and following up with some hard shots.
Holloway kept his composure without issue, but Aldo was looking sharp early.
After landing his burst, Aldo’s patience returned. He stuck to his long jab, waiting for Holloway to come in and cracking him with heavy counter punches. On the other hand, Holloway was not doing that much, especially by his usual standards. His movement was not that impressive, and his activity was nowhere near enough to tire the champion.
It was a great start for “Junior.”
Holloway opened up the second round with more volume, but Aldo’s counter punching was still on point. Aldo’s effective counter punching was limiting Holloway’s advances, as the Hawaiian did not want to get hit each time he moved forward.
Nevertheless, Holloway began to find his range a couple minutes into the round. His combinations began to flow and his volume increased, allowing him to land at a better rate. Aldo was still landing as well and finished with a big flurry, resulting in a rather close round.
Things were heating up.
Holloway opened the third round with some real success. He landed slick combinations and bounced away, drawing out Aldo’s big flurries. After Aldo threw his counter punches, Holloway moved back in with more punches.
Eventually, a long right hand clipped Aldo’s chin and sent him falling to the mat. The vast majority of fighters would have crumpled and ended there, but Aldo showcased his heart. Despite being nearly unconscious, Aldo’s body continued to defend itself. Unfortunately for him, Holloway had not intentions of slowing down, and he simply kept hammering away until the referee called the bout.
Holloway fought brilliantly in this match up. He started the fight slowly, but ultimately that allowed him to get a read on Aldo’s speed and movement. In the second, he turned up the pressure and stuck to his strategy, which eventually allowed him to find his perfect shot and end the bout.
Holloway’s pulls were on point in this bout. Aldo is a great counter boxer — something Holloway definitely tasted in the early goings of the fight — but he’s accustomed to fighters backing away after absorbing his counters. Instead, Holloway repeatedly pulled back, made him miss, then dove back into the fray with more punches.
Next up for the Featherweight crown should be Frankie Edgar, which would be a tremendous contest.
It’s sad to say, but Aldo has lost a step. When at his best, he’s still as sharp a technician as ever, but the cracks began to show as the fight wore on. Aldo’s defense became sloppier, and he began to reach more with his counters.
It’s hard to be certain, but it seems to me that physically Aldo has declined as well. He did not seem quite as fast or powerful as in previous contests, and Aldo had a really tough time recovering from being dropped. He ate harder shots from Chad Mendes a couple years back and stormed back immediately, but that wasn’t the case this time around.
Aldo is still a great fighter, but it seems that his time as the best has come to an end.
Last night, Max Holloway climbed the throne with a third round knockout win. Who should Holloway defend his title opposite in his first defense?
For complete UFC 212: “Aldo vs Holloway” results and play-by-play, click HERE!