A sold-out crowd filled Toronto’s Scotiabank Arena on Saturday as fight fans witnessed history at UFC 231.
Featherweight champion Max “Blessed” Holloway retained his title, defending his belt in the featherweight category — which groups fighters under 145 pounds — for the third consecutive time and ending the undefeated steak of phenom Brian Ortega.
A new queen of the women’s flyweight division was also crowned as Valentina Shevchenko won by unanimous decision to claim the vacant title.
Max Holloway defeats Brian Ortega by technical knockout
Holloway and Ortega went head to head in an all-out war that maintained its intensity for all four rounds.
Holloway peppered Ortega with a flurry of shots with pinpoint accuracy.
“Is there anyone else?” Holloway said.
The champ landed over 300 punches, breaking the previous record of most significant strikes with a 50-per-cent accuracy rate.
“Ortega looked unbelievable tonight,” said UFC president Dana White.
White praised Oretga’s granite chin and toughness in his bout, saying the fighter was “too tough for his own good.”
The fight was stopped in between the fourth and fifth rounds after a ringside physician deemed Ortega unfit to fight because his left eye was swollen shut.
“The doctors are doing their job,” Holloway said.
Ortega was sent to hospital immediately after the fight. The extent of his injuries are unknown.
The tremendous show of talent and heart between the featherweights won Fight of the Night.
Holloway also went home with the Performance of the Night bonus.
White sees a future for Holloway moving up to the lightweight category, which groups fighters under 155 pounds.
“Feed me — they all can get it,” Holloway said.
Although Holloway broke significant records, the champion remained humble, shooting down claims that he was the greatest featherweight of all time and praising former champion Jose Aldo in his place.
Valentina Shevchenko defeats Joanna Jedrzejczyk in unanimous decision
Shevchenko and Joanna Jedrzejczyk met for the first time in the octagon after competing outside of the UFC in several kickboxing matches.
The championship bout went the distance, with Shevchenko controlling the fight for most of the five rounds.
The kickboxing rivals kept the fight mostly on their feet, which led to a dynamic and skilled striking contest.
Shevchenko’s speed was on full display, dodging Jedrzejczyk’s precise jabs while returning punches and kicks of her own.
The champ showed her dominance, at times throwing Jedrzejczyk to the ground and countering with lightning-fast spinning back kicks.
The newly crowned champ says she is ready to defend her title right away.
“Straight to work, get busy again,” Shevchenko said. “I want action.”
Jedrzejczyk’s future is up in the air as she suffers her third straight lost.
“In this sport, there is no second place,” Jedrzejczk said.
The former strawweight champ said she will have one final go at the belt and aim for a comeback “one more time.”
Hakeem Dawodu defeats Kyle Bochniak in unanimous decision
Using elegant striking, Calgarian Hakeem Dawodu showed composure in his third UFC performance, as he held Kyle Bochniak at bay through three rounds, dismantling his advances.
The up-and-coming fighter got his second straight victory by unanimous decision.
However Dawodu was not impressed with his performance, saying: “I wanted the knockout.”
Gilbert Burns defeats Olivier Aubin-Mercier in unanimous decision
The Toronto crowd erupted for the Montreal native Olivier Aubin-Mercier as he stepped into the octagon.
The “Canadian Gangster” showed heart throughout the three rounds.
However Brazilian fighter Gilbert Burns dominated Aubin-Mercier, even picking him up and throwing him to the ground in the first round.
The three five-minute rounds looked long for Aubin-Mercier after he was caught gazing up at the clock throughout the bout.
“I am stronger. I have more power in my hands; I’m more dangerous on the ground,” Burns said.
This is the second consecutive loss for Aubin-Mercier.
Elias Theodorou defeats Eryk Anders in split decision
The Spartan spirit was on full display as Elias Theodorou went the full three rounds against heavy-hitting American Eryk Anders.
Theodorou utilized his unorthodox style to keep Anders on the move in the octagon. The fighter out-struck Anders with a barrage of kicks and punches, landing double the number of strikes as his opponent.
The Spartan kept the pace of the fight constantly moving throughout the octagon.
Anders took control in the second round, tagging Theodorou repeatedly with heavy shots and rocking the Greek-Canadian.
“I knew he won the second round but I felt like I’d done enough in the third to get the victory,” Theodorou said.
The close fight went to a judges’ decision that rewarded Theodorou with a razor-thin split decision.
“I felt like I had done enough to win,” he said.
Brad Katona defeats Matthew Lopez in unanimous decision
The bantamweight bout went the distance as Brad “Superman” Katona and Matthew Lopez stayed standing for most of the three rounds.
An energetic fight was brought to the judges’ decision, but not before Katona locked a late submission that had Lopez fighting for air in the final seconds of the third round.
“There is only one word to describe how I’m feeling: amazing,” Katona said.
Katona’s performance was enough to win over the judges.
Although he believes he was robbed of the submission victory, he is happy with the decision.
Katona remains undefeated with a nine-fight win streak.
Dhiego Lima defeats Chad Laprise by knockout
Canadian Chad Laprise came out swinging early in the fight, landing strong strikes against his opponent, Dhiego Lima.
However, Lima’s quick left hand caught Laprise square on the chin one minute and 37 seconds into the first round, delivering a quick, one-punch knockout that silenced the Toronto crowd.
“I saw it; I knew it was over,” Lima said describing his walk-off knockout.
Laprise lost his first UFC appearance at home and has now lost two straight by knockout.
Diego Ferreira defeats Kyle Nelson by technical knockout
Kyle Nelson looked confident in his UFC debut, saluting the crowd midway through the first round.
After a strong start, Kyle held his own as he displayed impressive technique on his feet.
However it went downhill from there for the the Stoney Creek, Ont., native as Brazilian Diego Ferreira dominated the latter part of the first round.
Nelson did not fare better in the second, as Ferreira put on a dominant performance.
“He was a tough guy,” Ferreira told reporters.
Nelson suffered his first UFC lost via a technical knockout in the second round.