Time to run through the top 5 performances in Max “Blessed” Holloway’s career. Again, this was a very difficult task to narrow the list down to just 5, with so many great Holloway fights to choose from, let’s give it a go!
#5 Will Chope, UFC Fight Night 34, January 4th, 2014
It was truly bizarre to see Max Holloway look like the short, stocky fighter in a featherweight matchup, but the 6’4″ Will Chope towered over Holloway, and had a 6 inch reach advantage. Early on in the first round, Holloway struggled to deal with the range of Chope, but at around the 3 minute mark, he started to hit his stride, in a big way. Crisp boxing combos upstairs followed by spinning heel kicks to the body hurt Chope, and after a big flurry of punches, Chope was just saved by the bell, and survived the first round. The second round picked up right where the first had left off, and Holloway established dominance early, began lighting Chope up and finished him off with a final flurry of boxing against the fence 2 and a half minutes into the second round to secure the TKO victory, and start off what is now a 9 fight win streak.
#4 Akira Corassani, UFC Fight Night 53, October 4th, 2014
Corassani had established a reputation as an ultra aggressive, in your face striker, with serious KO power. Holloway showed maturity beyond his years in this fight, going up against the hometown favourite, and a very dangerous opponent. Holloway weathered the storm early, surviving some big shots and staying calm through adversity. Early on in the first, he dropped Corassani with a precise 1-2, and this was the beginning of the end. Corassani showed tremendous toughness to not be stopped immediately, but he couldn’t recover from such a clean shot, and he couldn’t survive a big Holloway flurry against the fence, and dropped to the mat. Holloway wins via KO again, and was starting to draw a lot of attention with his consistently exciting fights.
#3 Jeremy Stephens, UFC 194, December 12th, 2015
Jeremy Stephens is an incredibly tough, aggressive fighter who built up a reputation for having huge KO power at lightweight, and he didn’t lose any of that power with the move down to 145 lbs. Holloway respected this KO power, and again showed real maturity and fight IQ for such a young man. He frustrated Stephens by controlling the centre of the cage, and controlling the distance. Stephens planted, and threw single power shots, looking for the KO. Holloway stood out of range, waited for his moment to pounce, moved in to range, landed a few clean punches, and was out of range before Stephens could land a counter shot. Holloway landed a very slick trip from the clinch in the third round, and landed clean shots on Stephens, all while threatening multiple submissions. Perhaps not Holloway’s most exciting fight, but he cruised to unanimous decision victory, and showed how high his fight IQ is despite his youth.
#2 Cub Swanson, UFC on FOX 15, April 18th, 2015
A truly astounding performance from start to finish from Holloway, this truly put him on the map as a title contender. Cub Swanson has been in the top 5 of the featherweight division for years, and has fought the best of the best. Holloway dominated from start to finish, never letting Cub Swanson get into his rhythm. Max controlled the centre of the octagon, and showed off how good his striking was moving forward and back. He consistently caught Swanson with check right hooks moving backwards, and landed multiple high kicks throughout. Holloway outworked Swanson, and hurt him in the third round. From there, Holloway could have gone into cruise control and taken home a clear decision victory, but showed how exciting a fighter he is, jumping on Swanson when he saw that he was hurt. A scramble had Swanson leaving his neck exposed, and Holloway locked in a standing guillotine before driving Swanson to the mat, and finishing the choke from mount. Holloway capped off an incredibly impressive performance by submitting a high level BJJ and Judo black belt, showing that he is dangerous wherever the fight goes.
#1 Ricardo “The Bully” Lamas, UFC 199, June 4th, 2016
Holloway’s most recent performance may just be his most impressive. Ricardo Lamas is an incredibly dangerous former title challenger, and Holloway had his way with him the whole fight. Controlling the centre of the octagon is a recurring theme in Max Holloway victories, and this was no different. Holloway controlled the distance, and picked Lamas apart before sliding just of range before being caught with counters, and simply put, he bullied “The Bully”. Holloway showed he was much more than a slick kickboxer with an excellent BJJ game as well, showing off his wrestling talent in this fight. Holloway easily defended all 6 of Lamas’ takedown attempts, which is incredibly impressive given that Lamas was a division 3 All American wrestler at college. The last 10 seconds of this fight remain perhaps the most bizarre, and entertaining ending to fight I’ve ever seen. As the 10 second warning was sounded, Holloway made eye contact with Lamas, pointed at the ground and said “let’s go”. What followed was 10 seconds of non stop punching from both fighters. Lamas and Holloway stood with their feet planted and swung for the fences. But somehow in this crazy exchange, Holloway showed his trademark slick striking, slipping under a Lamas hook and firing back a counter hook of his own that landed clean on Lamas’ chin. There was no doubt that Holloway’s next fight had to be for the belt after such a masterful performance.