UFC 218 was a very deep card, full of ranked fighters throughout the main card, and exciting veterans featured in the prelims. Dana White and company put together a solid card to bring fight fans to Little Caesars Arena in Detroit, and the card did not disappoint.
A champion defended his belt for the first time and cemented his legacy as one of the most successful featherweights in the history of the sport. A new star was born in the heavyweight division, and two of the fights threw their names in the ring for fight of the year honors. Let’s recap the biggest takeaways from UFC 218.
Max Holloway retains featherweight title decisively
It had been six months since Holloway won the world title at UFC 212, against Jose Aldo. That first fight went into the third round before Holloway’s relentlessness stopped Aldo from going on. The rematch felt a lot like deja vu.
Once again Holloway picked apart the all-time great fighter. It was vintage Holloway, as he controlled the fight throughout the match by pushing the pace. His combinations were crisp, and while he did take some shots from the dangerous Brazilian, he stayed out of harm’s way for the most part.
It was in the third round once again, when he sensed that Aldo was ready to be put away. That’s when the Hawaiian really poured it on, landing 108 significant strikes in the round. It was too much for Aldo, who showed flashes, but looked bottled up by the range of Holloway throughout.
Holloway extended his winning streak to 12 fights, and should expect to be matched against perennial contender Frankie Edgar, who had to pull out of this fight in November due to injury. The matchup will be highly anticipated, and should be more of a challenge for Holloway stylistically, thanks to Edgar’s stifling ground game.
Francis Ngannou blasts Alistair Overeem into oblivion
Ngannou was supposed to be the next big thing, after a dominating performance of Andrei Arlovski. But after his performance at UFC 218 it is clear that Ngannou’s time is now.
A wicked left uppercut caught Overeem square on the chin and sent him sprawling to the canvas. The power behind Ngannou’s fists set up a knockout scene that looked like it belonged on the big screen, and Ngannou’s presence and character is deserving of a lead role in the UFC’s heavyweight division.
Current division champ Stipe Miocic will certainly have something to say about that, but pitting these two titans against each other will certainly result in fireworks. Dana White has to be giddy with excitement that Ngannou was able hold up his end of the bargain and then some on Saturday night, giving life to a division that has lacked intrigue for quite some time.
Two FOTY candidates emerge
Everyone was ready to anoint Gaetjhe vs. Alvarez as fight of the night before the two men even got into the octagon. Luckily the bout lived up to expectations. It was an absolute war throughout, with Alvarez winning most of the exchanges.
Even though he was clearly smaller Alvarez continued to press forward and land all sorts of shots. Level changes kept Gaethjhe off balance the whole time, despite landing some serious leg kicks on Alvarez. He also had a giant welt on his face, but that didn’t stop Alvarez from landing a huge knee to put down Gaetjhe in third and final round.
The other fight of the night was between Alex Oliveira and Yancy Medeiros. Both fighters were dropped in the first round, even though Oliveira was closer to finishing the fight in the opening stanza. Both fighters were throwing early and often.
Medeiros was able to recover going into the second round and was able to finish Oliveira in the third, thanks to nasty elbows and big, nasty hooks landing flush repeatedly. Both fighters showed resilience, but Medeiros finished the fight in the third round by TKO.
But all of these guys were winners of Fight of the Night bonuses, and the extra cash should help all of the fighters feel better during their recoveries.