Yair Rodriguez, blood coming from several cuts on his face, pointed his finger and planted it in Max Holloway’s chest. Holloway, face swollen and bleeding from above his right eye, took his fist and patted it versus Rodriguez’s face.
Holloway’s legend continued Saturday with a
unanimous-decision victory (49-46, 48-47, 48-47) over Rodriguez in the main
event of UFC Fight Night in Las Vegas. And Rodriguez’s own lore leveled up
after a warrior-like performance in a losing effort.
The back-and-forth bout, which ended up as one of the best
of 2021, could have been a torch passing moment from Holloway, the former UFC
featherweight champion, to the up-and-coming Rodriguez. Instead, Holloway,
nicknamed “Blessed,” earned another huge victory in a historic
Rodriguez pushed Holloway to the brink, rallying with an
elbow that cut Holloway in the fifth round. But Holloway held on.
Get all the latest Betting and Sport News updates on your social media outlets.
“If you want to be the best, you’ve got to beat the
best — and the best is ‘Blessed,’ baby,” Holloway said in his postfight
Both fighters were taken to a hospital after the fight.
Holloway outlanded Rodriguez in important strikes 230-159, per UFC stats. The 389 combined significant strikes are the third largest total in a single fight in UFC history — and Holloway has been involved in each of the top four highest totals, according to ESPN Stats & Information.
Holloway landed 251 total strikes, becoming the first fighter to eclipse 3,000 total strikes in a UFC career. His 2,848 significant strikes are also a UFC record. Holloway is the only fighter in history to have 25 UFC fights and never get knocked down.
“Insane,” UFC president Dana White said. “It
was one of the best fights I’ve ever seen.”
Holloway is arguably the best featherweight in UFC history,
holding the 145-pound title from 2017 to 2019 with three title defenses. ESPN
has Holloway ranked tied for No. 9 in the world in its pound-for-pound MMA
rankings. At featherweight, Holloway is ranked No. 2 and Rodriguez is No. 8.
“Max is an amazing fighter,” Rodriguez stated.
“He has a lot of experience. He’s done an amazing job. I have nothing to
do but accept [the loss].”
Afterward, Holloway was noncommittal about what he wants next. He mentioned a possible title fight at lightweight, another shot at the man who took the featherweight title from him in Alexander Volkanovski, and even being on “the short list” for a fight versus Conor McGregor, who beat Holloway in 2013.
“We’re ready whenever,” Holloway said.
Holloway, 29, owns the most wins (18), most KO/TKO wins (8) and most stoppage victories (10) in UFC featherweight history. Rodriguez (13-3, 1 NC) was undefeated in three consecutive fights coming in and has just two losses in 10 UFC fights.
The Mexico native had not fought since a unanimous-decision victory over Jeremy Stephens in October 2019. Rodriguez, 29, owns the record for the latest knockout in UFC history, a spectacular back elbow finish of “The Korean Zombie,” Chan Sung Jung, with one second remaining in the fifth and final round in November 2018.
Check WagerWeb and find the best online betting site.