Following UFC 231 in Toronto, in which current undisputed featherweight champion Max Holloway dismantled the previously undefeated Brian Ortega, the debate of who is the greatest featherweight of all time has really heated up.
Last Saturday, Max Holloway once again displayed his incredible striking and finishing ability after defeating Brian Ortega via TKO at the end of the fourth round. Ortega was beaten so badly that the doctor had to put an end to his torture, although, Ortega did earn a lot of respect from his peers for showing great heart and determination throughout the fight.
The win, is Holloway’s 13th straight victory in the UFC which is incredible regardless of what division it is in. Anything can happen in an MMA fight and to be undefeated for such a stretch, considering his opponents too, is no mean feat.
After his victory on Saturday, Holloway was questioned whether he felt he was the best of all time and he was quick to dismiss that claim and point towards José Aldo.
“You’re wrong,” Holloway said, “I still believe the greatest featherweight of all time is Jose Aldo. When I’m 30 or 31, or his age, then you ask me if I’m the greatest featherweight of all time if I’m still here. But, at the end of the day, I just want to be pound for pound No. 1.”
If you like to look at the stat sheets to clarify things, it certainly points in the direction of Max Holloway and not Aldo. Holloway holds the UFC featherweight record for wins, stoppages, longest winning streak, significant strikes and total strikes landed. If MMA was more like the NBA, there would be no debate. The fact is, it’s not. There’s more to MMA than statistics for example performance, caliber of opponents and titles defended all weigh in heavily.
Aldo is certainly a candidate for the thrown. He was made the inaugural UFC featherweight champion after World Extreme Cagefighting merged with the UFC in 2010. Aldo went on to defend that title eight times before a supposed hype train rolled through in the form of Conor McGregor and put an end to his reign in 13 seconds. However, Aldo never received a rematch to try and claim back what he owned for the best part of 10 years.
After defeating Frankie Edgar for the second time in his career, José got his chance to win back the belt but he was put to the sword by a young Hawaiian by the name of Max Holloway. Aldo did get his rematch this time but failed to avenge his loss, losing in the same manner to Holloway for the second time in a year. Since the beginning of 2006, McGregor and Holloway are the only two men who can say they defeated the Brazilian.
And so we move on to candidate number three, Conor McGregor. The Irishman moved up the UFC rankings in a flash with a string of early stoppages and double the amount of trash talk to go on top. It didn’t take long for McGregor to earn a title shot and it only took him 13 seconds to beat Aldo and claim the featherweight title.
Along the way he stopped the likes of Dustin Poirier, Chad Mendes and the aforementioned Max Holloway. As Max pointed out in his post-fight press conference, that fight was five years ago and many UFC featherweights today would have no problems facing that Max either.
Since his title winning fight against Aldo, McGregor has yet to step back into the octagon for a featherweight bout. McGregor won seven straight fights on his way to the championship but never defended the belt and vacated it once he had beaten Eddie Alvarez to capture the UFC Lightweight championship and hold two belts simultaneously.
The fact that he never defended the belt hurts McGregor’s case but he had moved on to more lucrative ventures in the fighting business. That being said, McGregor has defeated the only other featherweight champions and the two main contenders for the title of the greatest featherweight of all time. You might say Frankie Edgar was the only challenge McGregor didn’t face on his way to the belt.
The three fighters in question have yet to end there careers and until that day comes, we cannot say who of the three if the greatest featherweight of all time. Nevertheless, we can still debate who we think can lay claim to the throne now and who we think might end up on top when it’s all said and done.
Let us know who you think is the UFC featherweight GOAT…