Coming from two UFC featherweight title fight defeats, Max Holloway cements his way to another tilt at the belt with a victory over No. 6 featherweight contender Calvin Kattar in the UFC Fight Island 7 main event.
Referee Herb Dean's second appearance of the night saw Max Holloway opening the first round with two quick jabs that set the fight's tone. While Kattar tried some ineffective low kicks, Max Holloway continued to persist with quick punches.
The action started to roll out during the third minute of the battle after Max Holloway managed to connect a couple of punches to Kattar's head and body that secured his win in the first round with a clear advantage over Kattar.
Round 2: Starting the second round like he left off in the first, Max Holloway continued to press Kattar with swift hands that started to erode Kattar's ability to fight back.
Max Holloway persistence paid off when Kattar fell to the ground after a great punch by the former champion. Kattar quickly got back on his feet, only to continue receiving Max Holloway's relentless attacks.
However, boosted with confidence, Max Holloway lowered his guard, giving space for Kattar to connect two powerful blows. The punches did not make Max Holloway break stride. They produced the opposite reaction.
Max Holloway connected a sequence of blows that made Kattar mark the octagon's canvas with his blood.
Round 3: Max Holloway's stamina bar seemed to be full even after ten minutes of battle. But although Kattar received so many blows to his head and body, he did not look like giving up on fighting.
Kattar could still offer Max Holloway some danger with powerful counter-punches that reminded Max Holloway that he was fighting against a top featherweight contender. A tight round for both fighters.
Round 4: The two fighters continued to produce one of the most intense fights ever in the featherweight division, throwing punches non-stop at each other.
Pressed against the fence, a groggy Kattar refused to go down to the canvas. Even Max Holloway seemed not to believe that Kattar was still standing after a combo of numerous connected attacks.
After passing through the 200-mark of significant strikes, Max Holloway finally started to show fatigue signs. To everyone's disbelief, Kattar could recover and produce some effective attacks to Max Holloway at the end of the round. But probably not enough to win the judges over.
Round 5: Max Holloway returned to the octagon in the fifth round determined to knock Kattar down, even though it was almost guaranteed that the judges would award him with the win.
On the other hand, Kattar had to produce a miracle to get out of this fight as the winner. All bloodied up, Kattar kept receiving hits at Max Holloway's will.
Although Kattar was landing some punches, none of them seemed to affect Max Holloway. During the fifth round, the former champion broke the record of most significant strikes attempts.
After noticing that Kattar would not give up, Max Holloway began to provoke and call-out Kattar and even let Kattar hit him deliberately. A truly legendary performance.
Result: Max Holloway defeated Calvin Kattar by unanimous decision (50-43, 50-43, 50-42)
What's next for Max Holloway?
Even though Max Holloway lost three out of his four UFC bouts - two of the losses being a title fight - the former featherweight champion maintained his spot as the division's No. 1 contender.
After beating Calvin Kattar in tonight's main event, Max Holloway expects to have another title shot. However, it might not be a third bout with Alexander Volkanovski, who stripped the belt from Max Holloway and defended it against him. The current champion has another title fight already scheduled with Brian Ortega on March 27.
Other UFC Fight Island 7 main card results:
Result: Punahele Soriano defeated Dusko Todorovic via knockout in the first round.
Result: Alessio Di Chirico defeated Joaquin Buckley via KO in the first round.
Result: Li Jingliang defeated Santiago Ponzinibbio via knockout in the first round.
Result: Carlos Condit defeated Matt Brown by unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27)