Credit image: mmaWeekly.com
This Saturday will mark a new direction for the Featherweight Division.
This weekend Anthony “Showtime” Pettis (ranked #5) will face Max “Blessed” Holloway (ranked #2) for the interim Featherweight Championship in the main event. The winner will face newly crowned Featherweight Champion Jose Aldo at a later date. Originally the main event was supposed to be Daniel Cormier vs Anthony Johnson, but due to injury Cormier had to pull out of the fight.
This main event has been surrounded by controversy. Conor McGregor was the Featherweight Champion, which he won be knocking out Jose Aldo in 13 seconds. He would not defend his belt, fighting Nate Diaz twice at Welterweight and recently fighting Eddie Alvarez for the Lightweight Championship. Since McGregor hasn’t defend the belt, the Featherweight division has been in limbo and challengers have been waiting. Aldo would face Frankie Edgar at UFC 200 in the Summer for the Interim Featherweight Championship, with the supposed winner getting a shot at McGregor next. Aldo would never get his chance to revenge his loss against McGregor, which had frustrated him and his fans to the point Aldo contemplated retirement. In the meantime, Holloway has been on an incredible 8 fight win streak and Pettis a former Lightweight Champion dropped to the Featherweight division to reinvent himself.
Leading up to McGregor fight against Alvarez, the President of the UFC Dana White had publicly stated that “If Conor would win he would have to give up one of his belts”. With Cormier pulled from the card, the UFC had to scramble to make the Pay per view card interesting. It was the appropriate time to strip McGregor and make Jose Aldo the champion, since he was already the Interim Champion. This allowed to create a new main event and generate interest, by having Holloway face Pettis for the Interim Championship with the winner facing Aldo. This would also resolve the problems in the Featherweight Division.
This main event adds new life to a division that has remained stagnant for a year. Holloway vs Pettis will be an interesting and exciting fight, with history also hanging in the balance. Pettis the former Lightweight Champion, will have an opportunity to be a two time champion in different weight classes like McGregor. Holloway would also win his first championship in the UFC as well.
Pettis can be one of the most exciting fighters in the world. He has not been the same fighter, since his when he lost the Lightweight Championship to Rafael Dos Anjos last year. Pettis was exposed in the fight for not being able to deal with pressure and his cardio. Fighters began to realize if they can take the fight to Pettis and wear him down, Pettis would not be able to overcome the adversity. After three straight losses he dropped to Featherweight to reinvent himself. Now at Featherweight he hopes to make history and be considered one of the best again.
Holloway has been on a mission. Always feeling he has to prove himself, he has been on a winning streak that is unprecedented in the Featherweight Division in the UFC. With Aldo, he has always been in consideration for a Featherweight championship Opportunity. He has excellent stand up ability and can submit his opponents on the ground as well. He also has great cardio and good foot work. All that combined plus the fact he knows how to finish his opponents, has made him a dangerous fighter in the Featherweight Division.
Prediction: This fight will five rounds, instead of the original three. The biggest key disadvantage for Pettis is the fact his cardio is questionable, especially dropping down to Featherweight. Pettis didn’t look good in his debut fight at Featherweight physically and looked like he began to become exhausted in the second round of a three round fight. Holloway has great cardio and can push the pressure on Pettis. He has good foot work, so he not going to stand around to take punishment. Also based on the analytics by UFC.com, Holloway has a higher percentage of getting a takedown (Holloway 66 percent to Pettis 58 Percent) and an incredible lower percentage of getting took down (Holloway 82 percent to Pettis (61 percent) . If Holloway can pressure Pettis and challenge Pettis cardio, he can win this fight easily. Pettis needs to win within the first three rounds, to not expose himself.
prediction: Holloway wins be Unanimous Decision, but it wouldn’t be surprising if he wins by submission also in the late rounds.