Max Holloway might very well be the greatest featherweight in the history of mixed martial arts.
After what he did to Brian Ortega Saturday night in the main event of UFC 231, it’s hard to argue that case. “Blessed” administered a frightening beating on Ortega so profound that the cage side doctors forced the fight to be stopped between rounds four and five.
Holloway (20-3) retained his UFC featherweight crown by landing hundreds of punches to Ortega’s head and body, busting “T-City” up so badly, that the left side of his face was virtually unrecognizable. Ortega (14-1) had his moments, though, as he made the brawl a memorable battle. But the Hawaiian was too skilled and too determined to be denied, tearing Ortega to shreds with masterful striking, a sturdy chin and solid takedown defense.
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Shevchenko Claims Gold
After waiting to become Ultimate Fighting Championship queen and coming up short against Amanda Nunes for the bantamweight title, Valentina Shevchenko accomplished her goal Saturday night. “Bullet” was masterful against former UFC strawweight champion Joanna Jedrzejczyk and won a lopsided unanimous decision.
Shevcehnko (16-3) used superb striking -- both legs and counters -- and scored five takedowns. Jedrzejczyk (15-3) came alive late in the fight, but Shevchenko remained in total control, winning nearly every minute of each round.
In the end, Shevchenko was awarded the verdict via scores of 49-46 across the board, allowing the Kyrgyzstan native to become the UFC women’s flyweight champion.
Nelson Splits Oliveira's Wig
Iceland’s Gunnar Nelson displayed his grappling prowess against longtime veteran Alex Oliveira, but it wasn’t easy. Nelson scored an early takedown in the first and was rocked by a few elbows to the head, but “Gunni” plowed through the adversity and wound top finishing “Cowboy” in the second.
After having his nose busted from strikes against the cage, Nelson (17-3) scored another takedown, moved to mount and eventually opened a horrific gash on Oliveira’s face from elbows. Once Oliveira (19-6-1) rolled over -- with blood gushing all over his face and canvas -- Nelson seized his back and sunk in a textbook rear-naked choke. Oliveira had nowhere to go and bowed out at 4:17 of the second.
Dawodu Outpoints Bochniak
Young welterweight prospect Hakeem Dawodu used a better overall striking game to offset multiple takedowns from Kyle Bochniak. “Mean” busted up Bochniak with leads and counters down the stretch, and he walked out of the Octagon the victor of a split decision.
Two judges favored Dawodu (9-1-1) via scores of 30-27 while the third official had it 29-28 for Bochniak (8-4).
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Santos Folds Manuwa
The light heavyweight showdown between Thiago Santos and Jimi Manuwa was expected to be bonkers and they didn’t disappoint. The two men swung for fences from the outset and each landed vicious, brutal punches to the head.
Manuwa was rocked badly early and often but he turned the tides later in the first to rubberize Santos’ legs. The two stood toe-to-toe at the end of the first, and thankfully for fans of controlled violence, the contenders picked up where they let off in the second.
Santos (20-6) buckled the Englishman’s knees with a pair of left hooks moments into the frame and then closed the wild brawl out with a wicked left uppercut-left hook combo. Manuwa (17-5) fell to his knees and face, prompting referee Todd Anderson to immediately waive it off 41 ticks into the second.
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