Reigning UFC featherweight champion Max Holloway produced the best performance of his career at UFC 231 as he stopped undefeated challenger Brian Ortega in the main event in Toronto.
Holloway came out swinging from the very first minute of the fight as he outstruck Ortega through the first two rounds, but to his great credit Ortega came fighting back in the third as the crowd lapped up the non-stop action.
Holloway upped the tempo and intensity in the fourth round and battered Ortega with a non-stop striking attack that sent the challenger back to the corner with his left eye almost completely closed.
And when cageside doctors checked out the challenger, they waved off the contest to give Holloway the third straight defense of his belt and his fourth straight TKO finish, joining his back-to-back stoppages of former featherweight champion Jose Aldo and his win over former lightweight champ Anthony Pettis.
Holloway is already being linked with a move up to lightweight and potential fights with Tony Ferguson, Conor McGregor and UFC lightweight champion Khabib Nurmagomedov.
Holloway said it best in the post-fight press conference: “The ‘Blessed Express’ is on the move! Hop aboard!”
SHEVCHENKO OUTPOINTS JEDRZEJCZYK TO WIN FLYWEIGHT CROWN
Valentina “Bullet” Shevchenko claimed the vacant UFC women’s flyweight title with an excellent display as she defeated former strawweight world champ Joanna Jedrzejczyk in the co-main event of the evening.
Shevchenko landed with more power and mixed up her strikes with well-timed takedowns to win four of the five rounds on all three judges’ scorecards, earning scores of 49-46 across the board to win her first UFC world title.
It was actually Shevchenko’s fourth straight win against Jedrzejczyk, with the pair having fought three times previously on the amateur Muay Thai circuit earlier in their career.
But after narrowly missing out on the bantamweight title against Amanda Nunes last year, Shevchenko was determined to defeat Jedrzejczyk one more time and capture the title.
NELSON CLAIMS BLOODY FINISH ON HIS UFC RETURN
Iceland’s Gunnar Nelson made a winning return with a superb second-round submission finish of Brazil’s Alex Oliveira, and one of the bloodiest finishes ever seen inside the octagon.
Oliveira had already bloodied Nelson’s nose earlier in the contest when the Icelandic grappling ace took the Brazilian to the mat early in the second round.
One colossal elbow to the forehead opened up Oliveira with a gusher of a cut, as Nelson then switched to the Brazilian’s back, locked up the rear-naked choke and claimed a highlight-reel finish via submission.
— Tanuki Usman (@Hamderlei) December 9, 2018
It was as devastating a finish as you’ll see on the ground in the UFC, and it marked “Gunni’s” return to the octagon.
Welterweights beware. Nelson is back.
SANTOS FLOORS MANUWA IN LIGHT-HEAVYWEIGHT SLUGFEST
You couldn’t have wished for a more exciting clash to kick off the main card, as Thiago Santos and Jimi Manuwa threw heavy leather throughout their light-heavyweight clash.
Ultimately, though, it was Santos who lived up to his “Marreta” nickname (it’s Portuguese for “sledgehammer) with a stunning second-round KO after a wild fight that saw both men hurt.
WHAT. A. FIGHT!! ?
Haymakers everywhere as Thiago Santos gets the HUGE knockout over Jimi Manuwa!
Swinging for the fences from the opening bell! Insane! pic.twitter.com/MJv1SMDh67
— Watch UFC on BT Sport (@btsportufc) December 9, 2018
UFC 231: MAIN CARD RESULTS
Max Holloway def Brian Ortega via TKO (doctor stoppage), Round 4
Valentina Shevchenko def Joanna Jedrzejczyk via unanimous decision (49-46, 49-46, 49-46)
Gunnar Nelson def Alex Oliveira via submission (rear-naked choke), Round 2
Hakeem Dawodu def Kyle Bochniak via split decision (28-29, 30-27, 30-27)
Thiago Santos def Jimi Manuwa via KO (punches), Round 2