The fight between Jose Aldo and Conor McGregor was one for the ages in the UFC featherweight division, with months long international press coverage, there were no two bigger featherweight men in the world. Conor’s lightning fast and accurate striking, versus Aldo’s impenetrable defense and all around skills, was settled in less than a minute. Conor dethroned the champ, took home the gold, and seemed to forget about the featherweight title he just won, choosing instead to focus on another fight in the lightweight division, and a potential showdown with Floyd Mayweather.
One fighter who didn’t forget about featherweight though was Hawaii’s own Max Holloway. On a nine fight win streak at that point, he was poised to be one of the next contender’s for the belt, and was looking forward to his shot against the new Irish champ. Those plans didn’t come to fruition though as shortly after, Conor vacated his title spot, giving the belt de facto back to Aldo. Max stood at the ready though for the call from the UFC, and within time it came. He was offered to fight against “Showtime” Anthony Pettis for the interim featherweight title, as Aldo prepared for a unification fight, Max then decisively made his fight streak ten in a row with a victory over Showtime.
This set the stage for the unification bout only two months later, and though most fighters would wait upwards of half a year minimum before fighting two of the biggest names in the industry, Max was ready to go. Staying with his hometown gym, Blessed MMA, he put his Hawaiian spirit to the test as he began the hard training that would be necessary to face one of, if not the best featherweight fighters in the world. Two months after the phone call, Max found himself in Rio De Jeneiro, in hostile territory facing a local hero. This didn’t stop him from proudly flying the Hawaiian flag over his shoulders on his walk out, accompanied by “Hawaiian Kickboxer” as the walkout song of choice.
It took a little over three rounds to show the world why Max was destined to be in that octagon with Aldo, as his four punch combo sent the sitting champ to the floor, and a following flurry secured him the unified title. With fresh gold around his waist, the post fight interview was all about respect, his homeland, and making Hawaii proud, and make up proud he did.
His arrival back in Hawaii with the belt was met with hundreds of fans waiting to see the local boy come home a champion, and though Max has definitely earned a rest period, he is anxious to get on with defending his belt, to trying to bring a proper UFC event to Hawaii, and to staying on the path to being a proud Hawaiian fighter at the top of his game, and like local legend BJ Penn before him, he is well on his way.