The UFC kicked off 2021 with a big bang as UFC Fight Island 7 delivered a spectacular card.
Ten fights on the night saw three first round knockouts and seven decisions but the fights were largely a fun watch, especially in the main event.
‘Blessed’ Max Holloway stepped into the octagon to take on Calvin Kattar in the headline fight and turned in the single greatest individual performance I’ve ever seen, as he battered Kattar with a 50-42 scorecard for two judges.
Holloway was explosive from the jump, landing spin kicks, body shots, jabs and straight punches, all while mostly avoiding the power of Kattar to prove he was in fact the better boxer of the two.
He blew Kattar out of the water for the entire five rounds, landing an incredible 445 significant strikes throughout the night including a record 141 strikes in round four alone.
It was a reminder to fans who may have believed that Holloway was past it following three defeats in his last four bouts, but it was also a warning to the champion Alexander Volkanovski.
After back-to-back losses against Volkanovski, the Australian had hoped to have washed his hands of Holloway and the title picture. Many believed Holloway won their second encounter and this performance was evidence that despite not having gold wrapped around his waist right now, he is still the best 145lber in the world, maybe ever.
With Volkanovski set to defend his title against Brian Ortega at UFC 260 in March, it’s evident that the winner will be taking on Max Holloway once again in their following fight.
Elsewhere on the card, Joaquin Buckley’s hype train was brought to a screeching halt with a violent head kick knockout by Alessio Di Chirico. The middleweight division continues to build in strength and depth, and after his first win since 2018 he will now look to build some momentum and hopefully work his way into the rankings this year having once been seen as Italy’s best chance at a UFC belt.
Santiago Ponzinibbio found out the hard way that the welterweight division has moved on without him, as he was knocked unconscious by the left hand of Jingliang Li in the first round of their fight too.
Ponzinibbio looked gun shy and hesitant during the opening exchanges, throwing only 18 strikes in the opening round before being knocked out with 35 seconds remaining. Li now has seven stoppages in the UFC and with four wins in his last five he will be looking to break into the rankings with his next fight.
Ponzinibbio will need to re-evaluate after over two years out and then such a timid display, it’s possible that the division’s elite have left him behind.