Max Holloway is returning to his home division of featherweight this weekend at UFC 240, defending his title against former lightweight champion Frankie Edgar. The island warrior is coming off of a tough loss up a division at lightweight, but insists that he’ll be his best self back at 145 pounds.
Before looking ahead to that fight with Edgar, we look back at five of our favorite stoppage wins from the power-hitter they call “Blessed.”
5. UFC 150, Aug. 11, 2012, TKO at 4:49 of R2 over Justin Lawrence
Prior to losing to Holloway in this fight, Lawrence was an undefeated prospect. The fight wasn’t just two of the most exciting young fighters in the UFC at the time facing off, it was also where the Hawaiian scored his first ever UFC stoppage.
4. UFC Fight Night 53, Oct. 4, 2014, KO win at 3:11 of R1 over Akira Corassani
The older and more experienced Corassani represented a significant test for Holloway, on paper. Still, Holloway won convincingly and clean, and also demonstrated here that he was capable of not just beating other young prospects, but also the sport’s established veterans. The win also extended his win-streak at the time to four-straight victories.
3. UFC 206, Dec. 10, 2016, TKO at 4:50 of R3 over Anthony Pettis
This hard-fought win after a back-and-forth battle for Holloway showed the world that he was capable of beating championship level competition. Pettis was not long-removed at the time from his lightweight title reign, and came down as the larger man, only to run into a sharp and surging Holloway, who finished the fight with a nasty body shot and follow-up strikes.
Holloway’s patient though voluminous offense, paired with well-timed defense against a striker of Pettis’ caliber was impressive. His ability to mix up the levels with his strikes and ultimately hurt Pettis with body shots also was.
Holloway landed roundhouse kicks to the body, jabs to the body, hooks to the body, all while defending takedowns and also dominating in the clinch on the feet. When two final roundhouse kicks to Pettis’ left side doubled him over, Holloway was quick to pounce and deliver rapid-fire punches to the head and body, dropping Pettis and ending the bout.
2. UFC 231, Dec. 8, 2018, TKO win (doctor’s stoppage) after R4 over Brian Ortega
As defending champion, Holloway looked every bit an experienced legend in this contest, giving his opponent nothing, and chipping away patiently until there was little left to fight back at him. Ortega came into this title-challenge riding a six-fight win streak, all by finish, and against some of the sport’s best.
The black belt was still no match for Holloway. The featherweight champ battered Ortega on the feet with quick, constant and powerful strikes.
The definition of "masterful": Max Holloway vs. Brian Ortega pic.twitter.com/CGdeLM0Jok— Kyle Johnson (@VonPreux) April 12, 2019
Ortega refused to go away, however, and Holloway responded by keeping his focus and never ceding any ground. After the fourth round, the fight was stopped due to the incredible amount of damage Ortega had sustained to his head.
1. UFC 212, June 3, 2017, TKO win at 4:13 of R3 over Jose Aldo
After 10-straight victories, Holloway was finally awarded a title-shot. It came against the best featherweight in MMA history – Jose Aldo. Heading into this first showdown with Holloway, Aldo had only lost one fight in about 11 years.
Though half a decade older than Holloway, Aldo fought effectively for more than three rounds, before ultimately being caught by shots he couldn’t stand up to.
Through two-and-a-half rounds, Holloway and Aldo fought pretty evenly. Aldo scored with big body shots, interrupted Holloway’s rhythm with feints and his jab, and Holloway made Aldo miss with his footwork.
The Hawaiian also began to land the one-two to the head with increasing frequency as the fight wore on. Suddenly, in the third round, that punch combination dropped Aldo to the canvas. Aldo stayed live off on his back but could not get up or get Holloway off of him as the soon to be champion showed fantastic top-game and flowed from dominant position to dominant position without giving Aldo space, and while landing many thudding blows.
Holloway repeatedly looked to the referee to stop the fight as Aldo lay defenseless, absorbing punch after punch. Eventually, with under a minute left in the fight, he obliged Holloway and the fight was called.
Holloway earned a third-round stoppage via punches, and repeated that feat over Aldo six months later, solidifying his position as the best on the planet at 145 pounds.
More from Yahoo Sports: