The last man to vanquish all-time featherweight great Jose Aldo left the division without a single title defense to his credit. Don’t expect Max Holloway to follow suit.
The 25-year-old Hawaiian with the moniker “Blessed” dispatched Aldo in impressive fashion in the UFC 212 headliner on Saturday night, finishing via technical knockout 4:13 into round three to become the promotion’s undisputed 145-pound champ. The only other man to dispatch Aldo in recent times, of course, was Conor McGregor, who knocked out the Brazilian in 13 seconds at UFC 194 and hasn’t returned to featherweight since.
Holloway, on the hand, seems to be in this for the long haul.
“I’m not racing through the division. I’m cleaning it out,” Holloway said on Fox Sports 1. “If I didn’t fight you, you can get it. This is the ‘Blessed’ Era. Come and get it.”
Holloway started slowly against Aldo, particularly in round one, where he appeared to be briefly stunned by a flurry of punches from his adversary. Holloway began to find a rhythm in the second, however, setting the stage for his finish round three. According to Holloway, he planned on being the stronger fighter down the stretch.
“Slow and steady always wins the race. I had five rounds; this wasn’t three rounds,” Holloway said. “I knew he would fade later on, and I took advantage when the shots opened up.”
With an 11-fight winning streak and championship hardware in tow, Holloway is now approaching superstar status in the UFC. Having beaten an opponent he once admired as a teenager, Holloway already has an idea who he’d like to face in his first title defense. He even has a location in mind.
“Aldo was a champion for ten years and he is one of the greatest of all time. There is a reason he was on top for so long. But things just went my way. I was telling myself, just go there and have fun. And to win here in Rio, in front of his fans, it´s amazing. He had everything I wanted and now the belt is mine,” Holloway said. “About my next opponent, me and Frankie Edgar sounds awesome, he is a former champion and it would nice to add another former champion on my list. I actually know a great place in Hawaii for this.”
As for McGregor, well, Holloway believes the Irishman is old news in the featherweight division.
“McGregor was the 2015 champ,” Holloway said at Saturday’s post-fight press conference. “He can go run around and celebrate it, but you can’t take it away from me. It’s 2017 now.”