For the second time in six months, Max Holloway put on a clinic and stopped Jose Aldo in the third round. He not only established himself conclusively as the best featherweight in the world, but he is beginning to close ground on Demetrious Johnson in the mythical pound-for-pound rankings.
Holloway won his 12th consecutive fight, stopping Aldo at 4:51 of the third round on Saturday in the main event of UFC 218 at Little Caesars Arena in Detroit.
Holloway has already lapped the field in the featherweight division, and a fight that would be a massive attraction would be a rematch with lightweight champion Conor McGregor. McGregor is the last man to have beaten Holloway, who was a 21-year-old finding his way in the UFC at the time of their bout on Aug. 17, 2013, in Boston.
Now, McGregor is the biggest star in the sport and has never lost his featherweight title in the cage. After McGregor defeated Eddie Alvarez at UFC 205 in 2016, he became the first man to hold championships in two weight classes simultaneously. He was forced to give up one and opted to retain the lightweight belt.
Holloway has closed a lot of ground and in his last seven bouts has beaten Cub Swanson, Charles Oliveira, Jeremy Stephens, Ricardo Lamas, Anthony Pettis and Aldo twice. No fighter has a stronger list of quality wins than Holloway.
He told Yahoo Sports before the bout that his goal isn’t to be the best fighter of all-time, but the best athlete. And while that may be an impossible task, he certainly is on his way to becoming one of his sport’s most dominant athletes.
He is supremely confident and never lets anything bother him. Even though Aldo showed flashes of his old, legendary self, Holloway beat him down without much stress.
Aldo has widely been regarded as the greatest featherweight in history, but Holloway has seemingly passed him with his 12-fight winning streak and two head-to-head wins. Holloway, though, remained humble.
“I have a lot of catching up to do,” Holloway said. “You gotta respect [Aldo]. The man’s got all the numbers.”
He does, but Holloway is making a case for himself. Johnson is widely regarded as the best in the world pound-for-pound, but Holloway is closing the gap there, as well.
A fight with, and a win over, McGregor would allow Holloway to make his claim for that spot. The UFC is committed to a lightweight unification bout between McGregor and interim champion Tony Ferguson.
But Saturday has to at least make UFC president Dana White think about the possibility of a super fight between Holloway and McGregor. It would be an epic match in the cage and sell millions of pay-per-views. That’s the kind of fight that White loves.
Frankie Edgar, the former lightweight champion, is probably more realistic as Holloway’s next opponent, but White can’t just dismiss McGregor-Holloway out of hand.
Holloway, though, isn’t too stressed about who is next.
“I told you guys, all of these guys are cupcakes,” Holloway said, channeling his inner McGregor. “I look forward to the new flavor. Any of those guys can get it. I like cupcakes. I’m going to eat them all, baby!”