For the first time since 2014, Max Holloway will enter The Octagon® coming off a loss.
The UFC® Featherweight Champion moved up to challenge for the Interim Lightweight belt at UFC 236, failing to become a double-champion after falling to Dustin Poirier by unanimous decision.
Now back at 145 pounds, Holloway makes his third defense of his Featherweight Championship at UFC 240 against Frankie Edgar.
This is the third time the two have been scheduled to face each other — Edgar pulled out of a date at UFC 218 due to injury and Holloway returned the favor by pulling out of a scheduled UFC 222 bout with a leg ailment.
Coming off a loss may be a rare occurrence for Holloway given his recent success, but the fighter is no stranger to adversity. Unlike many young prospects surging through the sport, Holloway's UFC career was almost cut short after a tumultuous first handful of fights, but he was able to right the ship and clear out a path to 145-pound glory.
Before his meeting with Edgar at UFC 240, let's look back at the five best performances of Max Holloway's career.
Vs. Cub Swanson — UFC on Fox
When: April 18, 2015
After a shaky 3-3 start to his UFC career that left many fearful for his future, Holloway strung together five straight wins to cement his job security.
The winning streak pushed him into the Featherweight division rankings and gave him a clear path to the title.
It also earned him a date with division long stay Cub Swanson at UFC on Fox: Machida vs. Rockhold in 2015.
Swanson entered the fight as the winner of six of his last seven bouts and provided a big enough name to potentially propel Holloway directly into the Top 5 if victorious.
What ensued was one of Holloway's most inspiring performances, pushing the pace against the older competitor for three straight rounds. The two went after each other immediately, with Holloway unleashing a barrage of leg kicks to the body to leave Swanson defenseless against the straight jab.
Holloway knocked Swanson down multiple times in the first 10 minutes and in the third round he went on his final surge. As Swanson covered for a body blow, Holloway rocked him with a straight left, stunning his opponent and allowing him to lock in a standing guillotine choke. As the two struggled, Holloway brought Swanson to the mat and cranked the neck to complete the submission victory.
Vs. Anthony Pettis — UFC 206
When: December 10, 2016
A nine-fight winning streak earned Holloway his first UFC title shot at the end of 2016.
Holloway exploded into notoriety following impressive performances against Jeremy Stephens and Ricardo Lamas, but the division's gold still evaded him.
At UFC 206, he finally got his opportunity, facing Anthony Pettis for the Interim Featherweight Championship.
Holloway entered the main event with a home field advantage of sort, fighting in front of his adopted home city of Toronto. Across from him stood former Lightweight Champion Pettis, who missed weight by three pounds and wasn't eligible to win the belt if he was victorious.
Many expected fireworks between two of the most exciting strikers in the UFC, and the fight didn't disappoint. The two tried to find their individual rhythms early in the first round, with Holloway making strong contact on Pettis' right eye near the end of the first round.
Holloway dropped Pettis in the second round and took full advantage of his opponent from that point.
As the third round ended, Holloway started to let loose on his opponent, throwing right hooks to the body that forced Pettis to back against the fence. As the onslaught continued, Pettis dropped to the mat from the damage and referee Yves Lavigne called the fight with 10 seconds left in the round.
The dominant victory gave Holloway his first taste of UFC gold and extended his winning streak into the double digits. After the fight, he called out Featherweight Champion Jose Aldo and his wish was granted less than six months later.
Vs. Jose Aldo — UFC 212
When: June 3, 2017
No moment of Holloway's career means more than when he became the undisputed UFC Featherweight Champion at UFC 212.
Facing the Featherweight division's greatest champion in Jose Aldo, the Hawaiian had one last hill to climb before officially anointing himself as the best 145-pounder in the world. It didn't help that this fight took place in Aldo's backyard of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
With the crowd firmly in his corner, the elder Aldo didn't shy away from throwing early with Holloway, reading the distance well and getting some uncontested shots over the first two rounds. Aldo caught Holloway a few times as the second round ended, but the Interim Champ didn't buckle -- showboating until the horn sounded.
This fight was a premier example of two fighters on the opposite ends of stamina. In the third round, Aldo started to fade ever so slightly as Holloway began to gain momentum with his striking. As Aldo started to breathe heavier and look hesitant on his leg kicks, Holloway pounced and started tagging the Brazilian. With three minutes left in the third round, Holloway dropped the champion and quickly went to the mat to mount his back. After a failed guillotine choke, Holloway started hammering Aldo from both sides of the head before referee John McCarthy stepped in to stop the fight.
Vs. Jose Aldo — UFC 218
When: December 2, 2017
While Holloway was riding an 11-fight winning streak following his first victory over Aldo, there was still a feeling that the original meeting between the two was deserving of a rematch.
Instead of arguing against another matchup with Aldo, Holloway publicly applauded the move, aiming to solidify his legacy by silencing Aldo again.
He did just that at UFC 218, finishing the former champion once again in the third round.
The second meeting between the two had stark similarities to the first, but things seemed more in favor of Holloway throughout. Holloway's late-round stamina was shown off for a second time, as he turned to another gear once the third round began. As the round was ending, the two found themselves in a similar situation — Holloway had Aldo's back and was raining down hammers to try and force a finish.
This time, though, Aldo was able to get himself turned onto his back and avoid the submission potential. The move didn't prove too effective, as Holloway dropped multiple bombs on his bloodied opponent, forcing referee Herb Dean to end the bout.
Vs. Brian Ortega — UFC 231
When: December 8, 2018
This performance will go down in the books as one of the most technical striking showcases in any title fight.
Heading into UFC 231, the hype around undefeated prospect Brian Ortega was that he was the one to dethrone the 26-year old Holloway atop the 145-pound division.
Ortega's high-level jiu jitsu resume and victories over division staples like Renato Moicano, Cub Swanson and Frankie Edgar had ever MMA fan salivating over this matchup.
The hype around Ortega reached such a high point that he ended up walking into The Octagon at UFC 231 as the favorite. But once the bell rang for the first round, the crowd became privy to why Holloway won his last 12 fights.
Over the course of four rounds, Holloway pieced up Ortega, landing continuously with his jab and overhand right. Of his 490 significant strikes thrown, Holloway landed an unthinkable 290. Overall, he landed 307 strikes on Ortega.
And Holloway wasn't working the whole body — most of his offense was landing on Ortega's head (244 of his 290 significant strikes were to the head).
Ortega showed heart throughout the bout, never getting dropped and continually pushing forward on Holloway. But after four rounds, the damage was so severe that the doctors called the fight in favor of the champion.
See Max Holloway at UFC 240 with an Official Ticket Package
Holloway returns to 145 pounds to defend his throne against Frankie Edgar at UFC 240. Be there live at Rogers Place in Edmonton with an Official Ticket Package from the UFC VIP Experience. Attend the pre-fight weigh-ins, enjoy premium hospitality, fighter meet-and-greets and much more — all with an Official Ticket Package.