UFC 218 delivers in Detroit as MMA's huge year is finishing in style

Francis Ngannou

It was all happening in Detroit this past weekend.

Hours before an attempt to tear down the famed Pontiac Silverdome – site of Hulk Hogan’s legendary Wrestlemania bodyslam and victory over Andre The Giant 30 years ago – ended with the planned implosion failing, UFC 218 rocked Little Caesars Arena to its core.

A PPV sandwiched between the company’s annual Madison Square Garden spectacular and their year-end megashow, 218 delivered in spades.

The main event saw Max Holloway underscore his status as the best featherweight today when he once again defeated divisional legend Jose Aldo via TKO.

Holloway is on a hot streak that started after his loss to Conor McGregor over four years ago, and a rematch between the two would have a whole new level of anticipation and purpose.

McGregor, however, may never fight again after making so much money on his rise to the top, culminating in his nine-figure boxing match with Floyd Mayweather.

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Max isn’t too pleased with the Irishman doing what he views as ‘pulling the ladder up’, taunting Holloway over their first bout while showing no interest in a second contest with the two combatants so different now compared to 2013.

“This guy has got a win over me when we were kids in a Fight Night show — I think the main event was (Chael) Sonnen and (Mauricio) “Shogun” Rua,” Holloway told Ariel Helwani.

“You know me and him made 12K that night and I think he’s happy to hold onto that. That’s the kind of person he is.

Max Holloway, right, punches Jose Aldo, of Brazil, during the third round of a UFC 218 featherweight mixed martial arts bout, early Sunday, Dec. 3, 2017, in Detroit. Holloway defeated Aldo by third-round TKO. (AP Photo/Jose Juarez)

“(UFC) asked me about the Conor fight at 155 when I was signing my new contract like I told you guys, but I heard he was trying to fight Paulie Malignaggi in MMA. … I don’t know what else you want me to say.

“He holds his head high over that win, I would never. Look at what I did. I fought someone who people consider and who I consider the greatest of all time. I gave him his straight rematch. I didn’t care.

“If you want to be the best you’ve got the beat the best, and the best is ‘Blessed,’ baby.”

He continued: “Tell him I’ll be waiting. If that fight doesn’t happen it’s not on our side, it’s on his. Right now, I’m focused on champ life,” said Holloway.

“When the exhibition fights come up and I have choices to make I can start calling out boxing guys and tell them, ‘come over to MMA, big shot.’ We’ll see what happens, but it’s just funny, you know? It’s funny.”

“I’m quite surprised because every time they talk about this guy’s UFC career, one name doesn’t come up and that’s Max Holloway. It’s me.

“For him to bring me up is actually funny. It’s surprising, it’s hilarious and we’ll see what happens. He’s still retired in my eyes. When he comes back and wants to fight a real MMA fighter let me know.

“Until then it’s like I said, if a bully pulls your hair, you’ve got to turn around and punch him in the face.”

The chief support bout was as strong as the support inside the Silverdome resisting the implosion. Francis Ngannou laid out heavyweight veteran Alistair Overeem with a one-punch KO that lit up social media.

The win makes him next in line for heavyweight champ Stipe Miocic and Ngannou’s confidence is understandably sky-high.

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“The match against Stipe, the same way. Knockout,” Ngannou told Megan Olivi.

“There are no (other) prognosis possible besides a knockout for me. I just get myself ready, go do an easy fight, go back home.”

“I don’t want to make it a three, four-round fight. Just a knockout, first round, go back home.”

Also on the main card was a belting scrap between Eddie Alvarez and previously-unbeaten Justin Gaethje which saw both men beat the living daylights out of each other in a brutally absorbing war before the former lightweight titleholder ended things in the third round with a sick knee.

If McGregor never fights again, Ronda Rousey does not return and the UFC struggles to find its next huge-drawing superstar in the foreseeable future, it appears that one thing remains bankable and that’s the consistent quality levels of their major shows.


 

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