By Michael Angelo S. Murillo
REIGNING ULTIMATE Fighting Championship (UFC) featherweight champion Max “Blessed” Holloway retained his title after defeating anew former titleholder Jose Aldo in their title rematch at “UFC 218” in Detroit, Michigan, yesterday by way of technical knockout in the third round.
Got firmer hold of his game as the fight progressed, American Holloway delivered the heavy blows when the opportunity came to make his first successful title defense from the man he took it from.
Earlier in the co-main event, Francis “The Predator” Ngannou, the number four heavyweight contender, fashioned out an impressive upset win over no. 2 contender Alistair “The Demolition Man” Overeem by knockout 100 seconds into the opening round.
The headliners had their moments in the first two rounds with the champion Holloway scoring some solid blows that punished the right eye of Mr. Aldo in the first round with the latter bouncing back in the second, finding his range for some big punches that rocked Mr. Holloway.
At the start of the third round, the two once again engaged tightly. Mr. Holloway managed to shove Mr. Aldo in the windup to the round and found a way to throw the Brazilian to the ground for more punches that took a tool on the former champion.
Mr. Aldo hardly fended off the barrage of Mr. Holloway as the seconds ticked away, prompting referee Herb Dean to stop the fight 4:51 into the round.
After the fight, Mr. Holloway (19-3) underscored his standing as the best in the division, referring to all comers to his belt as “cupcakes.”
“I told you guys, all these guys, these cupcakes, I look forward to the new flavor. But any of them can get it. I like cupcakes, and I’m going to eat them all, baby,” Mr. Holloway said post-fight.
With the loss, Mr. Aldo saw his record drop to 26-4.
KNOCKOUT WIN FOR NGANNOU
In the co-main event, meanwhile, Mr. Ngannou (11-1) wasted little time in stopping Mr. Overeem to claim his 10th straight victory.
The fight got off to a slow with both men feeling it out. But once action got under way it proved to be fleeting as Mr. Ngannou finished things almost instantly.
Mr. Ngannou landed a jab to which Mr. Overeem tried to retaliate but missed, setting up a big counter left uppercut from the former that dropped Mr. Overeem.
For good measure Mr. Ngannou jumped on top of the fallen and out Mr. Overeem and threw hammer fists after which referee Dan Miragliotta stopped the contest at the 1:42 mark of the first round.
With the victory, Mr. Ngannou thrust himself as the number one contender for the heavyweight title currently held by Stipe Miocic.
Mr. Overeem, who was left unconscious for several minutes after the KO, dropped his second fight in his last four and fell to 43-16.
In earlier fights, flyweight Henry Cejudo defeated Sergio Pettis by unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27 and 30-27), former lightweight Eddie Alvarez TKO’d Justin Gaethje in the third roud; and women’s strawweight Tecia Torres beat Michelle Waterson by unanimous decision, 30-27, 29-28 and 29-28.
Next for the UFC is “UFC Fight Night 123” on Dec. 10 (Manila time) in Fresno, California, that will feature the featherweight battles between Cub Swanson (#4) and Brian “T-City” Ortega (#6) as well as Jason “The Kid” Knight (#15) and Gabriel “Moggly” Benitez.
In the Philippines, Cignal TV, the country’s foremost direct-to-home (DTH) company, is the home of the UFC after the two groups agreed to an extensive deal that will see the UFC beamed on various platforms.