When people get thrown in the deep end before they are ready two things usually happen – they drown or they thrive. Max ‘Blessed’ Holloway has certainly done the latter.
Max Holloway Fighter Bio
- Weight class: Featherweight (145lbs)
- Nationality / birthplace: Waianae, Hawaii, United States
- Fighting style: Striking (boxing)
- Age: December 4, 1991
- Height: 5 ft 11 in (180 cm)
- UFC debut: UFC 143
- Alias: “Blessed”
Max Holloway MMA Debut and Early Years
The Hawaiian made his professional MMA debut just before his 19th birthday, amassing a respectful 4-0 record on the Hawaii MMA circuit. By the time he was 20, Holloway had made his UFC debut against one of the top Featherweight prospects in the organisation at that time.
That prospect was Dustin Poirier, who boasted an impressive 11-1 record at the time and was slated to face top ten featherweight Ricardo Lamas before he was forced to withdraw due to injury. Holloway stepped in for Lamas on just four weeks’ notice, and was the youngest fighter signed to the UFC roster upon his arrival to the organisation.
Holloway lost to Poirier in the first round via submission, which showed Blessed’s lack of grappling experience at the time. However, Holloway’s youth and athleticism kept many pundits optimistic that he would have a great MMA career ahead.
Returning to Winning Ways in the UFC
The rest of 2012 proved to be better for Holloway as he won his next three fights in the UFC against Pat Schilling, Justin Lawrence and Leonard Garcia. However, he fell short to wrestling standout Dennis Bermudez, losing by split decision in their UFC 160 bout.
He then lost two in a row after losing to eventual MMA sensation Conor McGregor, who was able to take Holloway down at will and earn a unanimous decision victory. If there was any consolation for Holloway, however, it would be that he was McGregor’s only UFC victory that went to the judges’ scorecards.
Another consolation was that Holloway was only 21-years-old at the time, and had a lot of time to improve on the more green aspects of his game. That was exactly what Holloway did as he would transition from young prospect to elite mixed martial artist.
Holloway Extends a Winning Streak
2014 turned out to be a fantastic year for Holloway as he went 4-0 in the Octagon throughout that year. All of those victories coming in the form of stoppages against Will Chope, Andre Fili, Clay Collard and Akira Corassani, and put Holloway within sight of a top ten fight.
After he defeated Cole Miller via unanimous decision, Holloway got his long awaited chance at the top ten when he was given a match up against featherweight standout Cub Swanson. Although Swanson was coming off a loss to former UFC Lightweight champion Frankie Edgar, he had previously come off a six-fight win streak, and was widely considered to be a top-five featherweight fighter.
It was a golden opportunity for Holloway to show the MMA world that he truly improved as a fighter, and belonged with the top featherweights in the world. It was an opportunity he took full advantage as he finished Swanson via guillotine choke in the third round.
Entering the UFC Top 10 Rankings
The win not only put Holloway in the top ten, but also gave him his first ever Main Event slot on a UFC card, which came against Charles Oliveira at UFC Fight Night 74. The match had a peculiar ending as Oliveira injured himself while attempting a takedown (later revealed to be an oesophagus tear) and could not continue, which gave Holloway his seventh straight UFC victory.
Holloway then made it eight straight wins after defeating UFC veteran Jeremy Stephens via unanimous decision at UFC 194. Eight straight victories would usually grant a fighter a title shot. However, the decision by featherweight champion Conor McGregor to challenge for the Lightweight belt, as well as the presence of other top fighters such Frankie Edgar and Jose Aldo, meant Holloway would need at least one more fight before getting a shot at the belt.
Challenging for UFC Gold
That fight came at UFC 199 against another decorated Featherweight veteran, Ricardo Lamas, whose grappling prowess meant that Holloway – whose previous losses largely came to being dominated on the ground – would have a major challenge on his hands. It was a challenge that Blessed passed with flying colours, as he was able to successfully defend the numerous takedown attempts by Lamas while dominating him on the feet en route to a decision victory.
Holloway as UFC Featherweight Champion
After nine straight wins, Holloway finally got a shot at UFC gold in the form of an interim Featherweight title match against Anthony Pettis at UFC 206. The matchup was particularly interesting to many fans and pundits as the technical, unorthodox striking styles led to both fighters being compared to each other throughout their UFC careers.
There was no comparing the two when the fight took place, however, as Holloway became the first fighter to finish Pettis, having done do late in the third round. The victory gave Holloway a chance to face newly promoted featherweight titleholder Jose Aldo for the undisputed championship, which took place at UFC 212.
It was a match that truly showed how far Holloway had come throughout his five years in the UFC, as he remained calm and patient in the face of repeated striking attacks from Aldo in the first and second rounds.
The maturity and adversity displayed by Holloway in the early stages of the fight allowed him to eventually gain the edge over Aldo, eventually finding his range before finishing Aldo with pinpoint strikes in the third round.
Defending the Title in the Octagon
In his first title defence, Holloway was slated to fight Frankie Edgar at UFC 218. However, the former Lightweight champion was forced to pull out with an injury, and was replaced by Aldo.
The rematch played out in much similar fashion to the original fight, with Aldo starting out strong before Holloway gained the edge and once again finished the Brazilian late in the third round to retain the featherweight gold.
At just 26 years of age, the sky is the limit for Holloway.
Like the man he beat twice, Jose Aldo, the potential for Blessed to be a long-term Featherweight champion is extremely high. At a relatively young age, he has transitioned from an above average striker to an elite MMA fighter with high level abilities in all facets of the sport.
Max Holloway UFC Fight Record
Here are Max Holloway’s statistics from his professional MMA career.
|José Aldo||Win||December 2, 2017||UFC 218||TKO (punches)|
|José Aldo||Win||June 3, 2017||UFC 212||TKO (punches)|
|Anthony Pettis||Win||December 10, 2016||UFC 206||TKO (body kick and punches)|
|Ricardo Lamas||Win||June 4, 2016||UFC 199||Decision (unanimous)|
|Jeremy Stephens||Win||December 12, 2015||UFC 194||Decision (unanimous)|
|Charles Oliveira||Win||August 23, 2015||UFC Fight Night: Holloway vs. Oliveira||TKO (neck injury)|
|Cub Swanson||Win||April 18, 2015||UFC on Fox: Machida vs. Rockhold||Submission (guillotine choke)|
|Cole Miller||Win||February 14, 2015||UFC Fight Night: Henderson vs. Thatch||Decision (unanimous)|
|Akira Corassani||Win||October 4, 2014||UFC Fight Night: Nelson vs. Story||KO (punches)|
|Clay Collard||Win||August 23, 2014||UFC Fight Night: Henderson vs. dos Anjos||TKO (punches)|
|Andre Fili||Win||April 26, 2014||UFC 172||Submission (guillotine choke)|
|Will Chope||Win||January 4, 2014||UFC Fight Night: Saffiedine vs. Lim||TKO (punches)|
|Conor McGregor||Loss||August 17, 2013||UFC Fight Night: Shogun vs. Sonnen||Decision (unanimous)|
|Dennis Bermudez||Loss||May 25, 2013||UFC 160||Decision (split)|
|Leonard Garcia||Win||December 29, 2012||UFC 155||Decision (split)|
|Justin Lawrence||Win||August 11, 2012||UFC 150||TKO (punches)|
|Pat Schilling||Win||June 1, 2012||The Ultimate Fighter: Live Finale||Decision (unanimous)|
|Dustin Poirier||Loss||February 4, 2012||UFC 143||Submission (mounted triangle armbar)|
|Eddie Rincon||Win||July 1, 2011||UIC 4: War on the Valley Isle||Decision (unanimous)|
|Harris Sarmiento||Win||March 12, 2011||X-1: Champions 3||Decision (split)|
|Bryson Kamaka||Win||November 6, 2010||X-1: Island Pride||KO (punches)|
|Duke Saragosa||Win||September 11, 2010||X-1: Heroes||Decision (unanimous)|