In a distraught year for the UFC, only one fighter has a complete resume for fighter of the year. Max “Blessed” Holloway stood out among the rest. He entered the year as the interim featherweight champion, coming off a win against Anthony Pettis last December. Then came the beginning of the Blessed Era. At UFC 212, a 25-year-old Holloway took on featherweight king Jose Aldo in Brazil. In the biggest fight of a young Holloway’s career, he looked like the expert against the reigning champ. Aldo looked good early, but Holloway never lost a step and took over in the third round. Holloway’s pressure was too much for Jose Aldo and Holloway ground and pounded his way to a TKO stoppage late in the third.
That win put Max Holloway next to Jose Aldo and Conor McGregor on the shortlist of top UFC featherweights of all time. Those are some prestigious names. Then came time for what seems like the only ranked featherweight Holloway hasn’t faced in Frankie Edgar at UFC 218. Edgar has only been defeated by three fighters his whole career and was coming off dominating victories of Jeremy Stephens and Yair Rodriguez. The Answer had just lost to Aldo at UFC 200, and his prayers were answered when Aldo had lost his belt to Holloway.
However, Edgar got injured during sparring just a month away from the fight and a replacement was needed. Many assumed it would be Cub Swanson, who Holloway had already beaten but was next in line for a title shot. The UFC ended up going with the Aldo rematch however and Max had the most Max response he could of had :
It is what it is pic.twitter.com/LmtqCmkWec
— Max Holloway (@BlessedMMA) November 12, 2017
It is what it is. It sure was Max Holloway.
UFC 218 saw the two collide again in what many considered the battle to see who is declared the greatest Featherweight of all time. An Aldo win would erase any memory of what had happened at UFC 212 and a win for Holloway would put him over the hump that McGregor knocked out Aldo too. No one had ever beaten Aldo twice. In one calendar year no less.
Well, it is what it is because in a darn near repeat of the first fight, Holloway looked even better though and so did Aldo to be honest. But the result was the same. A good start from Aldo led to Holloway putting on pressure as soon as Aldo was tired and a third round stoppage with 10 seconds left meant Holloway would defend his belt for the first time and Aldo would for the first time in his career be beaten twice by one man.
The fact that Holloway put on two dominant clear cut wins against what people considered the best of all time in his weight class puts Holloway above the rest of the competition in 2017. Demetrius Johnson beat Wilson Reis and Ray Borg in dominating fashion. But best pound for pound doesn’t mean you get fighter of the year. Jon Jones had a chance if he could stay away from things he wasn’t supppose to take. But in the end, 2017 wasn’t the year of DJ. It was the year of the beginning of the Blessed Era, an era that has lasted one title defense and is already considered the UFC Featherweight GOAT.
Even Conor McGregor might be a bit jealous of Holloway’s dominance of the divison despite McGregor besting a young Holloway in 2013. Could Holloway lur the Notorious into one more featherweigh bout to prove who the real GOAT of the division is? Maybe. But while 2015 and 2016 were year of the McGregor era, 2017 belongs to Max Holloway.
It is what it is.