One of the greats of the featherweight division, former world champion Max Holloway returns for his first assignment of 2021 against Calvin Kattar on January 16. Remarkably, the Fight Island bout is Holloway’s first without a title on the line since he faced Ricardo Lamas in June 2016, but the five-rounder is just as important, as a win over the surging Kattar could be the ticket to a shot at regaining his 145-pound crown. Will this headliner be put on Holloway’s list of defining fights? We’ll know in a week, but in the meantime, the best of “Blessed” is below, with recaps of how we called it on fight night.
UFC Fight Night – TKO2 Will Chope
Rising featherweight star Max Holloway capped off a great night for Hawaii at the Marina Bay Sands in Singapore Saturday, as his second round TKO win over Octagon newcomer Will Chope made it three for three for his team in UFC Fight Night action, joining him in the win column with Dustin Kimura and Russell Doane.
Chope worked off any first-time UFC jitters with an active attack, with Holloway forced to pull off some unorthodox moves to keep the Thailand-based fighter off him. In the final two minutes, Holloway finally began to find his range though, and the Hawaiian pounced, landing with hard shots down the middle, forcing Chope to clinch with his opponent against the fence in the final minute before a round finishing barrage of strikes from Holloway.
Holloway continued to press in the second round, and Chope was forced to go on the defensive as Holloway unleashed punches and kicks upstairs and downstairs. After a rough sequence, Chope fired back and then clinched with Holloway against the fence, getting a brief breather. Once the two broke, Holloway went on the attack once again, and this time he dropped Chope to the mat, with a follow up series of strikes prompting referee Leon Roberts to halt the fight at 2:27 of the second round.
UFC on FOX – Wsub3 Cub Swanson
Max Holloway’s six-fight winning streak is impressive in and of itself, but when that sixth straight win saw him finish off top featherweight contender Cub Swanson in the third round, it added that little something more to the resume of a young man who is on the fast track to a 145-pound title shot.
UFC 206 – TKO3 Anthony Pettis
In the lead-up to his UFC 206 main event against Anthony Pettis, Max Holloway walked with the quiet confidence of a champion and on Saturday at Air Canada Centre, he earned the hardware to go with it, stopping Pettis in the third round to win the interim UFC featherweight belt.
But the 25-year-old Holloway, Hawaii’s first UFC champion since BJ Penn, won’t be satisfied until he unifies the belt with current titleholder Jose Aldo, and he’s got just the place for it.
“Meet me in Brooklyn,” Holloway shouted, referring to February’s UFC 208 card at Barclays Center. “Let’s get the real one.”
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