Jose Aldo was removed from power and forcefully so.
Max Holloway became the third undisputed featherweight titleholder in Ultimate Fighting Championship history, as he disposed of Aldo with punches in the third round of their UFC 212 main event on Saturday at Jeunesse Arena in Rio de Janeiro. Holloway drew the curtain 4:13 into Round 3, as he took his place on the throne at 145 pounds.
Aldo fought well in spurts: According to preliminary FightMetric data, he outlanded the Hawaiian in each of the first two rounds, 19-12 in the first and 29-28 in the second. However, he holstered one of his most trusted and devastating weapons, the 30-year-old Nova Uniao standout throwing only one leg kick across more than 14 minutes of combat. Holloway decked him with a two-punch combination in the third round, climbed into top position and cut loose with ground-and-pound -- he paused briefly for an attempt at a rear-naked choke -- until referee John McCarthy intervened.
In the aftermath of UFC 212 “Aldo vs. Holloway,” here are five matches that ought to be made:
Max Holloway vs. Frankie Edgar: Holloway has rattled off 11 consecutive victories, and at just 25 years of age, he has positioned himself for a historic reign at 145 pounds. He has already built an impressive resume, with wins over Aldo, Anthony Pettis, Ricardo Lamas, Jeremy Stephens, Charles Oliveira and Cub Swanson. That Holloway figures to improve over the next three to five years should send a cold shiver down the spine of the rest of the featherweight division. Time will tell whether or not he can become a transcendent champion, but all the ingredients appear to be in place. Edgar last appeared at UFC 211 on May 13, when he annihilated Yair Rodriguez and forced a stoppage in between the second and third rounds at the American Airlines Center in Dallas.
Claudia Gadelha vs. Jessica Andrade: In perhaps her finest performance to date, Gadelha laid out her case for another title shot at 115 pounds by submitting Karolina Kowalkiewicz with a first-round rear-naked choke in the co-headliner. Kowalkiewicz, who had never before been finished, lasted just 3:03. Despite her effort, Gadelha finds herself in an unenviable position behind Joanna Jedrzejczyk: the clear-cut second fiddle in a division where she has already lost twice to the champion. The fact that Jedrzejczyk appears to be ticketed for a showdown with Rose Namajunas sometime this year further clouds the Brazilian’s immediate future. Andrade last fought at UFC 211, where she lost a unanimous decision to Jedrzejczyk and failed to unseat the Polish powerhouse.
Vitor Belfort vs. Anderson Silva: Belfort pulled the right strings at the right time and recorded his first win since November 2015, as the 40-year-old Brazilian captured a unanimous decision from Nate Marquardt in a competitive middleweight showcase. While his best days have long since passed, “The Phenom” had enough in the tank to turn away a spirited showing from Marquardt. Afterward, Belfort pumped the brakes on talk of a possible retirement and vowed to fight on despite his advancing age and considerable mileage on the odometer. Silva snapped a two-fight losing streak at UFC 208 on Feb. 11, when he wound up on the right side of a unanimous verdict against Derek Brunson.
Raphael Assuncao vs. Jimmie Rivera-Thomas Almeida winner: Former World Series of Fighting champion Marlon Moraes arrived on the UFC scene with plenty of hype and even more momentum, only to have one of the organization’s more underappreciated competitors spoil his Octagon debut. Assuncao improved to 9-1 -- only T.J. Dillashaw has beaten him -- over his past 10 appearances and halted Moraes’ 13-fight winning streak, as he eked out a contentious split decision on the undercard. All three rounds were closely contested. Assuncao may not wow the masses with otherworldly physical tools, but no one can deny the results. Rivera and Almeida on July 25 will duke it out at Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum in Uniondale, New York, where they are scheduled to lock horns at UFC on Fox 25.
Paulo Henrique Costa vs. Derek Brunson-Daniel Kelly winner: Now 10-0 with 10 finishes, Costa has the look of a potential contender in the middleweight division. The undefeated former Jungle Fight champion wiped out Oluwale Bamgbose with punches in the second round of their clash and continued his climb at 185 pounds. It marked the first time Costa had fought beyond the five-minute mark. The 26-year-old Brazilian had no issues. Brunson will take on Kelly at UFC Fight Night 110 “Hunt vs. Lewis” on June 10 in Auckland, New Zealand.