Max Holloway has the Ultimate Fighting Championship featherweight throne on lockdown.
The charismatic Hawaiian lured Jose Aldo into a firefight and then dissected him with accurate punches to retain his championship in the UFC 218 headliner on Saturday at Little Caesars Arena in Detroit. Aldo (26-4, 8-3 UFC) succumbed to blows 4:51 into Round 3, exiting the cage a battered, bloodied and broken mess.
Working behind a penetrating jab, Holloway (19-3, 15-3 UFC) toyed with the Nova Uniao cornerstone for the better part of two rounds, much like a cat would a mouse. He turned up the heat in the third round, unleashing a torrent of punches that buried a spent Aldo and brought the crowd to its feet. Aldo -- who had enjoyed some success with his vaunted leg kicks before being overrun -- grasped for a desperate takedown with his last ounce of energy, only to be stonewalled. Holloway calmly moved into top position and pounded away with punches and hammerfists until it was over.
The 25-year-old Holloway will ride a 12-fight winning streak into his next title defense.
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Ngannou Scores Terrifying KO on Overeem
Francis Ngannou melted former Dream and Strikeforce champion Alistair Overeem with a left uppercut in the first round of their heavyweight co-main event, all but assuring his shot at champion Stipe Miocic in 2018. Overeem (43-16, 8-5 UFC) met his end in a most violent fashion 1:42 into Round 1.
The two behemoths stalled along the fence for a time before referee Dan Miragliotta saw fit to separate them. A blindingly fast and powerful left uppercut from Ngannou snapped back the Dutchman’s head, lifted him off his feet and separated him from his senses. He then landed a crushing toe-curling hammerfist on the prone and defenseless Overeem for good measure, throwing his hat in the “Knockout of the Year” ring, alongside Edson Barboza and Mike Perry.
Ngannou (11-1, 6-0 UFC) has won 10 consecutive fights, all of them finishes.
Dominant Cejudo Suffocates Pettis
Well-timed takedowns and stifling top control carried 2008 Olympic gold medalist Henry Cejudo to a unanimous decision over Sergio Pettis in a three-round flyweight feature. All three cageside judges scored it the same: 30-27 for Cejudo (12-2, 6-2 UFC), who has posted consecutive victories since his split decision loss to Joseph Benavidez a year ago.
Pettis (16-3, 7-3 UFC) was frozen by the threat of the takedown. Cejudo held his own in the standup exchanges, then closed the distance and dragged the former Resurrection Fighting Alliance to the mat. Pettis was powerless on the bottom, as he found himself pinned beneath the crushing top game of a world-class wrestler.
The loss snapped Pettis’ four-fight winning streak.
Alvarez Knee Strike Vanquishes Gaethje
Former UFC and Bellator MMA champion Eddie Alvarez chopped down the indomitable Justin Gaethje with a third-round knee strike and follow-up punches in a hotly anticipated lightweight feature that somehow managed to live up to the great expectations that preceded it. Gaethje (18-1, 1-1 UFC) bowed out 3:59 into Round 3.
Alvarez (29-5, 4-2 UFC) used superior speed, footwork and output to build a two-rounds-to-none lead on the onetime World Series of Fighting champion, snapping back his head with uppercuts while digging to the body with left and right hooks. Through it all, Gaethje moved forward with sadistic resilience. Leg kicks were his primary weapon, and he nearly crippled the Philadelphia native with them. Though he was nursing a grotesque swelling on his face and could barely stand, Alvarez managed to fire a picture-perfect knee through Gaethje’s porous defenses in the center of the cage. Gaethje kissed the canvas and could not defend himself from the punches that followed, prompting referee Herb Dean to intervene.
Torres Outduels Waterson to Decision
American Top Team’s Tecia Torres won for the third time in as many appearances, as she captured a unanimous decision from Michelle Waterson in a three-round women’s strawweight showcase. All three cageside judges scored it for Torres (10-1, 6-1 UFC): 30-27, 29-28 and 29-28.
Waterson (14-6, 2-2 UFC) struggled to keep the fight at a desired distance, especially in the first and third rounds. Torres overwhelmed her at times with output, swarming on her with punches. Her efforts resulted in significant swelling to Waterson’s left eye. “The Karate Hottie” dumped Torres to the mat with a head-and-arm throw in the middle stanza and spent substantial time in top position. However, Torres responded down the stretch, bullying the Jackson-Wink MMA representative in the clinch for much of the third round before climbing to the back, chewing up clock and nearly finishing it with ground-and-pound.
The 31-year-old Waterson has suffered back-to-back defeats for the first time in her 20-fight career.
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