On Saturday night, UFC on Fox 30 hosted a pair of fights at the top of the bill. These contests served to prove several things.
“For all that José Aldo has accomplished, he comes in as the underdog, and that tells me that people underestimate the greatness of Max Holloway a little bit,” said Daniel Cormier as soon as the UFC on Fox 30 co-headliner from Saturday night was underway. It was a brilliant statement, and it couldn’t be more true.
Aldo has been competing in the sport for nearly two decades, so it’s easy to forget that the Brazilian is still only 31 years old. Without a doubt, a lot of people have written him off after his unforgettable loss to Conor McGregor. Even more people did so after his two consecutive losses to the aforementioned Holloway last year.
The frustration and all the doubts seemed to have gotten to the former champion. He immediately broke down in tears as soon as referee Yves Lavigne stopped last weekend’s fight at the end of the first round. It was vintage Aldo. The one who comes through in times of adversity. The one who finishes fights. As much momentum as Jeremy Stephens had, for Aldo to shut it down the way he did was impressive, to say the least.
However, let’s go back to Cormier’s comment. Aldo did come in as the underdog in the fight even though he was ranked higher. While Aldo’s performance was an eye-opening one, it proved something even bigger: Holloway really is that good. We all know the unfortunate turn of events that occurred on the brink of UFC 226, but let’s just take a moment to realize that Holloway didn’t beat Aldo once, but twice. Decisively, too.
You could see the instant grimace on the face of Stephens as soon as Aldo’s body shot landed. Aldo is capable of these moments. Stephens had Aldo hurt just about a minute before, too, which proves that Aldo’s ability to take shots is still there. That’s the kind of fighter Aldo is.
If you remember what Holloway was able to do in both of his fights against Aldo, you just have to stop and ask, “Just how good is this guy?” Holloway not only beat Aldo, but he dominated Stephens as well. Very few people have been able to say that they have a win over the Hawaiian, and those who do earned those wins when the “Blessed” one was still very new in the UFC. Since then, Holloway has been able to make massive improvements with each and every fight. He currently sits with a winning streak of 12 fights, an unbelievable feat for someone who’s only 26 years of age.
In the main event, we watched Dustin Poirier get his ultimate revenge against Eddie Alvarez for one of the most controversial endings to a fight. In May 2017, when the pair met at UFC 211, Alvarez delivered an illegal knee that brought a premature end to the outing. The rematch at UFC on Fox 30 served as a platform for a superb performance from “The Diamond.” While this fight also included some controversy regarding the illegal elbows thrown by Alvarez in the second round, it certainly is not enough to take away from Poirier’s TKO victory.
Yet, what this fight also proved was that Conor McGregor has to be that good as well, to have beaten both of these men in the way that he did. There is no excuse to be made for the Irishman’s recent actions. His recent attitude after the Floyd Mayweather Jr. fight is hardly winning him any new fans. We shouldn’t have any sympathy for him for getting stripped of both of his belts, either. However, there is no denying that McGregor is a supreme talent and possibly one of the best we have ever seen.
Alvarez was still standing after taking all those shots against the cage from Poirier. Think back to UFC 205, when McGregor casually took out Alvarez with a beautiful combination in the second round. It is unbelievable what McGregor has been able to accomplish. Let’s not forget UFC 178, where McGregor and Poirier had a heated rivalry. While a second fight between those two would likely go differently, McGregor was still able to take out Poirier with one shot in their encounter.
Impressive performances were turned in on Saturday, and many different fighters took a step further toward their ultimate goal of becoming the champion. As much as those performances stood out, history will always be there, and it just goes to show what special fighters we have in Holloway and McGregor.