Max Holloway got the better of Yair Rodriguez on the scorecards tonight at UFC Fight Night 197, but in a blistering clash of high-level strikers he certainly didn’t have it all his own way.
The featherweight main event is underway in Las Vegas!
Holloway taking the center of the Octagon here. Leg kick for Rodriguez. Punch lands for Holloway. Kick upstairs from Rodriguez almost got through.
Holloway lands and Rodriguez stumbles backwards to the mat, but then does a kick to create space and stand back up.
Rodriguez landing nice kicks early here. Holloway snaps Rodriguez’s head back with a straight punch.
Holloway lands again and Rodriguez nods in acknowledgement. Body punch from Holloway. BOth fighters trade big blows at close range. Dangerous exchanges.
Rodriguez with the low kick again. Competitive action here. Holloway’s hands crisp as ever, but Rodriguez is repeatedly blasting him with calf kicks and that’s bound to be taking a toll.
Rodriguez gets close with a head kick and then snaps Holloway’s head back now with a punch. However, Holloway then cracks him hard with a right hand and Rodriguez stopped for a moment after that and now has a cut to his cheek. Holloway threatening with more punches.
Exciting action so far. Rodriguez now looking to switch things up as he moves in for a takedown attempt and presses Holloway into the cage.
Good balance from Holloway to stay upright on one leg and then escape. Rodriguez attempts a kick and falls, which enables Holloway to get on top as the round is drawing to a close.
calf kick for Rodriguez. Body punch from Holloway. Holloway with a push kick. Rodriguez attempting a spinning body kick.
Feints from Rodriguez. Two punches land for Rodriguez. Holloway returning fire. Grazing hook for Rodriguez. Holloway works the jab. Nice punch for Rodriguez. Body punch for Holloway, kick from Rodriguez. ROdriguez was out of position for a moment but Holloway couldn’t capitalize.
Spinning head kick from Rodriguez just whizzes in front of Holloway’s face. HOlloway lands a nice counter as ROdriguez was going for a kick.
Two body punches and one upstairs from Holloway. Kick to the body from Rodriguez. Leg kick for Holloway. Another body punch from him. He attempts a head kick but misses.
Calf kick for Rodriguez. He lands one to the inside of the other leg. Back to the low kick again. Holloway jabs. Now rorking to the body and lands a good punch upstairs. Then to the body again.
Right hook for Rodriguez. Calf kick for Rodriguez. Now low kicks to the other side. Another body punch sinks in for Holloway and Rodriguez threatens with an upward elbow.
Calf kick for Rodriguez, body punch for Holloway. Right hand lands for Holloway. Head kick attempt from him misses. Calf kick from Rodriguez, but Holloway counters with a punch and lands to the body too.
Nice two-piece combo for Holloway and then a jumping knee attempt. He works into the clinch now, but doesn’t stay there for long. Upwards elbow attempt from Rodriguez.
Rodriguez slips to the mat on a technique and Holloway follows him down, only for Rodriguez to immediately attempt to fish for a submission, but the round ends before that sequence fully unfolded.
Punch upstairs and a leg kick from Rodriguez. Double jab and a straight for him now. Holloway lands a punch and then attempts a flying knee.
Body kick and punches behind it from Rodriguez. Calf kick from Rodriguez. Jabs from him and Holloway responds with one of his own.
Knee stomp from Holloway and then a takedown attempt that fizzles out instantly. Rodriguez drops to the mat and Holloway is able to get on top and is looking for a choke. Rodriguez wall walks now and Holloway rides that and sets himself in a high mount.
Punches landing for Holloway and Rodriguez rolls to his knees and turtles up. Holloway landing a few punches, but then slips off. He recovers quickly though and stays on top in north-south. However Rodriguez gradually finds his way back up to his feet.
They immediately go back to the intense striking action as Rodriguez unleashes a volley of strikes. Holloway looking to return fire, but then it’s Rodriguez turn to go for a takedown.
They don’t remain down for long though. Back to striking range and thhe hard blows continue. Rodriguez looking to go back to the calf kick, but then Holloway nicely times a takedown.
Final 30 seconds and Holloway is in half-guad and manages to land a knee to the body. He starts to land a couple more of those and Rodriguez battles back to his feet just as the horn sounds.
Hook for Holloway and then a body punch. They look like they are going to clinch, but then Holloway backs out landing a punch.
Holloway with punches and Rodriguez lands one too. leg kick for Rodriguez. Low kick from him. Hard one-two from Holloway.
Holloway walking Rodriguez down and then attempts a standing guillotine against the cage. He uses that to bring Rodriguez down to the mat.
Rodriguez attempting to escape, but Holloway maintains half-guard. Rodriguez using his knee as a barrier. He tries for a leg lock, but Holloway hops out of that and then goes back down on top on the other side. Rodriguez gets him back to full guard.
Holloway stands up over him and then drops down close to full mount, but Rodriguez is on his side. A few blows land to the head from the former champ. Rodriguez gives up his back but manages to work back to his feet, with Holloway landing knees as he does so.
Holloway lands a punch, but then Rodriguez lands a spnning backfist. HOlloway off-balance with a head kick attempt. Accidental eye-poke from Holloway forces a brief stoppage.
Rodriguez is ok to continue after a quick check from the doctor. Holloway drives into a flying knee to the body that lands, but Rodriguez landed a punch too.
Now it’s Rodriguez attempting a flying knee. High body kicks from Rodriguez. Short punch in close from Holloway, but then Rodriguez lands a short elbow.
Two-piece combo from Holloway. He tries a spinning body kick, but it’s at too close range to really connect clean.
Rodriguez pressing forward aggressively now and swinging for the fences, throwing an uppercut that just misses the mark.
A hug from the two warriors before they go back to punching and kicking lumps out of each other in the final round.
A few punches land for both fighters. Heavy punch for Rodriguez and a combination of more punches and a kick behind it. Now a body kick from him.
left hand for Holloway. Rodriguez misses hooks and Holloway tags him. Body work from Holloway and elbow lands for Rodriguez.
Straight left for Holloway. He presses forward with more offense and Rodriguez covered up for a moment there before getting back into the action.
Combo from Rodriguez. Holloway tags him with straight punches. Jumping flip kick from Rodriguez doesn’t land clean and it leaves him on his back, giving Holloway a great opportunity to get on top in the center of the Octagon.
Rodriguez does very well to transition on top though with more than two minutes remaining. However Holloway is fishing for a submission and that helps him to scramble back upright.
Holloway with punches and a knee to the body as he moves into the clinch. Holloway has a cut to the eye and one to the lip too at this late stage in the fight.
Rodriguez with a combo. He tries for a head kick. Now an overhand that just grazes the target. Snappy jab from Holloway, but then he takes an eyepoke that forces a brief stoppage.
Holloway into range with strikes. Rodriguez lands too though. Rodriguez attempts a trip takedown that fails. Spinning kick attempt from Rodriguez. HOlloway clinches up and drives him into the cage. The final seconds of the round tick down from there. Great fight.
This looked like a great fight on paper and it certainly delivered on the night with plenty of high-level, hard-hitting striking and even some unexpected grappling exchanges too.
In the end though Holloway was the more clinical, effective striker of the two and so he emerges with a unanimous decision victory (49-46, 48-47 x2), but all credit to Rodriguez for keeping it closely contested from start to finish after a long layoff.