Max Holloway batters Jose Aldo with third-round TKO to become undisputed featherweight champion
For the last nine months, Max Holloway has been asking for the opportunity to solidify his place as the best featherweight in the world with a fight against Jose Aldo.
On Saturday night in Brazil, Holloway proved his point with a stunning third-round finish against Aldo to become the undisputed champion at 145 pounds.
Holloway entered the Octagon on an incredible 10-fight win streak, but he knew he had his hands full as Aldo was the longest-reigning featherweight champion in UFC history and was coming off a shutout performance against Frankie Edgar in his last fight.
Still, Holloway had no fear of stepping into the lion's den by facing Aldo in his backyard, and it showed with his performance -- albeit after he got off to a bit of a slow start.
In his 10th title fight in the UFC, Aldo showed complete patience in the opening round as he stepped to the middle of the Octagon and waited for Holloway to greet him there.
Holloway had been an offensive machine during his long win streak, but he was more tentative facing an elite striker like Aldo. Holloway tossed out a few straight punches but ended up being countered with a pair of left hands from Aldo that snapped his head back.
With Holloway retreating, Aldo went on the attack with a flurry of punches, including a stinging right hand that twisted Holloway's head on a swivel as the Brazilian crowd came to their feet.
As much as he may have wanted the finish, Aldo saw that Holloway wasn't fading away, so he conserved his energy before circling back to the center to reset.
While the first round didn't go his way, Holloway came out with a lot more confidence to start the second as he increased his volume and started throwing more combinations without much fear of retribution from the Brazilian.
As Holloway began pressing forward, he tagged Aldo with a pair of right hands that had him backing away to avoid taking the brunt of the damage.
Holloway even managed to taunt his opponent towards the end of the round, but Aldo was undeterred as he fired back with hard, stinging counter shots.
In the third round, Holloway looked composed as the momentum in the fight started to shift. He went on the attack, with Aldo backing away with his mouth gaped open, clearly starting to feel the effect from a hard-fought 10 minutes in the cage.
Holloway's combinations started coming in quicker and quicker succession with Aldo trying to maintain his footing while struggling to find an opening for his counter shots.
Finally, Holloway unleashed a nasty four-punch combination in rapid-fire fashion, ending with a left hand that clipped Aldo before a right hand followed through that absolutely blasted the Brazilian and sent him crashing to the canvas.
Holloway followed Aldo to the mat where he started to pound away with his punches while looking to get the finish. It appeared for a moment that Aldo started to regain his composure, but Holloway's pressure was unrelenting as he moved into the mount before taking the back.
With Aldo covering his head and not offering much resistance, Holloway just kept firing away with punches until referee John McCarthy finally stopped the contest at 4:13 into the third round.
Holloway immediately jumped over the cage to celebrate with his team as he was crowned the undisputed featherweight champion of the world -- also becoming only the second fighter to finish Aldo in the UFC, the other being Conor McGregor in 2015.
"I've been telling you guys already this is 'Blessed' era," Holloway said after the win. "Dana White, where's my $50K? I want my check and I'll see you guys in Hawaii. UFC Hawaii, make it happen, baby!"
Holloway caps off an unbelievable run in his career with the third-round TKO against Aldo while also winning his 11th consecutive fight. He now stands proud as the undisputed featherweight champion of the world and at just 25 years old, the sky is the limit for him moving forward.
Meanwhile, Aldo suffers his second loss in his past three fights. As recently as last year, Aldo claimed he was ready to retire and move on to new endeavors in his life.
This latest loss might either force Aldo to decide enough is enough or it could light a fire under him to try and reclaim his spot on top in the featherweight division.