Jose Aldo won the first two rounds, but Max Holloway turned on the jets in round three to earn the stoppage, and the title, at UFC 212.
Jose Aldo was named the undisputed featherweight champion after Conor McGregor left the division for greener pastures, then Max Holloway won the interim title against Anthony Pettis. At UFC 212, two belts became one.
Neither fighter committed anything for the first 40 seconds until a missed jab from Max Holloway. Holloway was unable to land on his first few punches, with Aldo slipping just out of range. Aldo was successful with his first strikes, a one-two combination. Both fighters simultaneously missed hooks and clinched up, with Holloway landing a left on the exit.
Aldo pushed forward with a heavy combination that caught Holloway clean, including a knee. Holloway collected himself and landed a hook. Aldo caught Holloway clean again, then the Hawaiian answered with a two-punch combo. Aldo landed another clean hook, which Holloway was able to answer with a spinning back kick at the end of the round.
Jose Aldo started round two with a right hook to the body, as Holloway landed a left up top. A straight punch landed for Aldo, then a two-punch combination. Aldo went body-body-head with a trio of strikes, then a left. Holloway pushed forward with a left, then chained together a combination. A right hand down the pipe landed for Holloway, who began to find his range. Another combination landed for Holloway, then Aldo answered with a flurry. A big counter right landed for Aldo as he slipped the punches from Holloway.
Holloway answered a stiff jab from Aldo with a body kick right straight combination. Another right hand over the top landed for Aldo, then Holloway began to taunt the champion. Aldo spun with a kick then a back fist and a hook, a beautiful combination to end the second round.
Max Holloway narrowly avoided an intercept knee from Aldo to start round three. Holloway began to work the body with punches, then landed a combination. Holloway landed a pair of combinations and began to get the better of Aldo in exchanges. After a brief clinch, Aldo landed a hook. Holloway landed a pair of one-twos that floored Aldo and jumped on to pursue the finish.
Aldo withstood the onslaught from full mount then turned to expose his back. Holloway attempted to sink in the choke but was unsuccessful as Aldo attempted to push Holloway off of him. Holloway stuck on him like glue and kept the punches coming. Big John gave Aldo every chance he could to recover, but after another choke attempt failed, Holloway unloaded from back mount and McCarthy finally called off the fight. Despite being given plenty of time to try to recover, Aldo still protested the stoppage.
Aldo looked excellent in rounds one and two, but Holloway was a different breed in round three. In the post-fight interview, Holloway called for the UFC to come to Hawaii.