Max Holloway has spent over five years in the Ultimate Fighting Championship. He has won 11 fights in a row. He is still just 25 years old. The most important number, however, is that he is No. 1 in the world at 145 pounds.
“Blessed” first entered the Sherdog.com rankings in our Feb. 15, 2015 update, debuting at No. 10 after his win over Cole Miller, which was already five fights into his outstanding unbeaten streak. Over the last two years and change, the new fighting pride of Hawaii worked his way up our featherweight list the old-fashioned way -- by beating all the top guys he could. This culminated in his performance at UFC 212 on June 3 in Rio de Janeiro, where he overcame a hard-punching start from all-time 145-pound king Jose Aldo and then ran roughshod over the legendary Brazilian in the third round to take the undisputed UFC featherweight title.
UFC 212 is an event that will be forever defined by the ascent of Holloway, but it's also a reminder that you can strengthen your position without moving up the charts.
In the Holloway-Aldo co-feature, the unquestioned second-best strawweight woman in the world, Claudia Gadelha, took on the universally regarded No. 3 woman at 115 pounds, Karolina Kowalkiewicz. The result: Kowalkiewicz barely lasted three minutes against her fellow former UFC title contender before succumbing to a rear-naked choke. The 28-year-old Gadelha may be second fiddle to Joanna Jedrzejczyk at 115 pounds, but she is still miles ahead of everybody else.
Meanwhile on the UFC 212 undercard, unsung technician Raphael Assuncao, with some help from the judges, took a dubious split decision over Marlon Moraes, a former World Series of Fighting champion making his UFC debut. Nonetheless, while Assuncao may clock in at No. 4 on our bantamweight list behind the trinity of Cody Garbrandt, Dominick Cruz and T.J. Dillashaw, the Recife, Brazil, native is now 9-1 at 135 pounds and raises some questions about whether we should consider the bantamweight division as having a “Big Four.”
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