All hail the Max Holloway era.
The 25-year old from Waianae, Hawaii, went onto UFC featherweight champion Jose Aldo's Jr.'s home turf and schooled the greatest 145-pound fighter of all-time Saturday night.
Holloway (18-3) started slow, then turned up the heat on Aldo, delivering a blistering onslaught over the second and third rounds of their UFC 212 main event in Rio de Janeiro. Referee John McCarthy finally waved off the bout at 4:13 of the third at Jeunesse Arena, making Holloway champion via TKO.
"I told you guys already this is the 'Blessed' era," Holloway said, referring to his nickname.
With the victory, Holloway has won 11 consecutive fights. Aldo (26-3), who various UFC and WEC world titles reigns lasted nearly seven years combined, lost for only the second time in his past 21 fights.
Claudia Gadelha (15-2) had exactly the type of fight she needed to get another shot at strawweight champion Joanna Jedrzejczyk. Gadelha, whose only career losses were to the undefeated champion, rolled over Polish contender Karolina Kowalkiewicz (10-2).
The Brazilian, who is now based in Albuquerque, N.M., dominated from the outset and ultimately won via submission, using a rear-naked choke to win at 3:03 of the opening round.
"You can't expect different results if you keep doing the same thing over and over," Gadelha said after her ninth career finish. "I challenge myself, I've done new things, I'm a new fighter, and I'm going to be (expletive) hard to beat here."
In what many expected going in to be his final career fight, 40-year-old Brazilian legend Vitor Belfort (26-12, 1 NC) got a unanimous decision nod against Denver veteran Nate Marquardt (35-18-2). The judges' scores were 29-28 across the board as Belfort did just enough damage to get the nod in a middleweight bout that wasn't exactly action-packed.
But Belfort, a former UFC light heavyweight champion who has be around so long that he actually won one of the UFC's prehistoric one-night tournaments at UFC 12, vowed to fight on.
"I've got five fights left in me, guys," said Belfort, who won for the first time in four fights.
Unbeaten Brazilian Paulo Borrachinha (10-0) electrified the crowd with a victory in a middleweight slugfest against the Bronx's Oluwale Bamgbose (6-3). Bamgbose came out flying in the opening two minutes, but faded fast. Borrachinha picked up the pace and peppered his opponent with a wide variety of punches and knees.
While Borrachinha survived until the second round, he didn't last much longer. Borrachinha's onslught was waved off at the 1:06 mark.
"He's a tough guy, he moves around a lot, but I knew that my right hand would land, and I used the octagon well tonight," said Borrachinha, who has won all 10 of his fights via knockout.
An exciting main-card welterweight opener was brought to a sudden halt by a questionable stoppage.
Waianae, Hawaii's Yancy Medeiros (14-4 1 NC) dropped Brazil's Erick Silva (19-8 1 NC) with a big overhand right followed by a left hook on the kisser. Silva appeared to be cogently defending Medeiros' follow-up ground offense when the referee stepped in and stopped it at 2:01 of the second round.
Even the winning fighter questioned the decision despite earning his third win in four fights and his 11th career stoppage victory.
"My coaches told me I was being too passive in the first round, I had to bring it in the second round and that's what I did," Medeiros said. "The ref could have let it go a little a little bit more, but that's not my call."