Conor McGregor backed up every bit of his talk.
McGregor knocked out Jose Aldo with a left hook and follow-up hammerfists, as he unified the Ultimate Fighting Championship featherweight crown in the UFC 194 headliner on Saturday at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas. It was over in 13 seconds, with Aldo (25-2, 9-1 UFC) unconscious at the feet of referee John McCarthy.
They traded left hands in the first exchange, and both landed flush. McGregor (19-2, 7-0 UFC) connected on the chin, absorbed the return fire without issue and then pounced on the fallen Brazilian for the finish. The loss was Aldo’s first in more than a decade.
Related » UFC 194 Round-by-Round Scoring
Rockhold Dethrones Weidman for Middleweight Title
In the co-main event, Luke Rockhold stopped Chris Weidman with fourth-round punches to become the seventh undisputed middleweight champion in UFC history. Battered and bloodied, Weidman (13-1, 9-1 UFC) succumbed to blows 3:12 into round four.
After plenty of give and take in the first two rounds, Rockhold (15-2, 5-1 UFC) turned the fight his way in the third, where he countered an ill-conceived wheel kick from the “All-American” with a takedown, moved to the back, set his hooks and eventually advanced to full mount. From there, Rockhold unleashed some savage ground-and-pound with sharp elbows and concussive punches. Referee Herb Dean showed surprising restraint in allowing Weidman to continue on. When the round ended, he staggered back to his corner a shell of his full-strength self.
The American Kickboxing Academy’s Rockhold picked up where he left off in the fourth, as he delivered another takedown, moved to an advantageous position and mopped up what was left with punches.
Romero Split Decision Downs ‘Jacare’
American Top Team’s Yoel Romero took what appears to be the final step to becoming the No. 1 contender at 185 pounds, as he claimed a split decision over Ronaldo Souza in a featured middleweight battle. Judges Glenn Trowbridge, 29-27, and Tony Weeks, 29-28, scored it for Romero, while judge Lester Griffin saw it 29-28 for Souza.
Romero (11-1, 7-0 UFC) almost rendered the judges meaningless in the first round, where he sat down “Jacare” with a magnificent spinning backfist, jumped into the former Strikeforce champion’s guard and bludgeoned him with punches and elbows. A dazed Souza retreated to his corner on wobbly legs, his fate all but a forgone conclusion. However, Romero ran out of gas in the second round, became more and more stationary and allowed “Jacare” to claw his way back into the fight.
In the third round, Souza (22-4, 5-1 UFC) flurried into takedown range, struck for a double-leg on the Olympic silver medalist and assumed top position, using his ground-and-pound to hunt for openings from half guard. Unfortunately for the Brazilian, the finished he needed never materialized.
Maia Routs Overmatched Nelson
Demian Maia humbled SBG Ireland’s Gunnar Nelson with shocking ease, as he cruised to a unanimous decision in a welterweight showcase. Scores were 30-26, 30-25 and 30-25 for Maia (22-6, 16-6 UFC), who has rattled off four consecutive victories.
Nelson (14-2-1, 5-2 UFC) never had a chance. Maia got in on his legs at will, initiated scrambles and deftly advanced to top position against the Renzo Gracie protégé. The 2007 Abu Dhabi Combat Club Submission Wrestling World Championships gold medalist achieved full mount twice, transitioned to the back on multiple occasions and battered Nelson with an endless stream of ground-and-pound. Preliminary FightMetric figures told the tale of utter domination: Maia landed 218 total strikes to Nelson’s six.
Holloway Pushes Streak to Eight
Efficient standup and sublime takedown defense carried Max Holloway to his eighth straight victory, as he recorded a three-round unanimous decision over Jeremy Stephens in a featured featherweight clash. All three judges scored it for Holloway (15-3, 11-3 UFC): 30-27, 30-27 and 29-28.
Holloway operated from a comfortable distance, countered beautifully and steered clear of the Alliance MMA rep’s power. The 24-year-old Hawaiian did his best work in the third round, where he surprised Stephens (24-12, 11-11 UFC) with a takedown and punished him with punches and elbows before advancing to his back and threatening with a rear-naked choke. The finish did not materialize for Holloway, but the fight was won.
Stephens, 29, has lost three of his last four bouts.