debuted in the
Ultimate Fighting Championship
as a wet-behind-the-ears
20-year-old, made incremental improvements and blossomed into one
of the sport’s top pound-for-pound competitors.

The Gracie Technics standout in 2012 introduced himself to a wider
audience as a short-notice replacement at UFC 143, where he
submitted to a triangle armbar from a vastly more experienced
in a little more than three minutes. Holloway’s next
five outings saw promising victories over Pat
, Justin
and Leonard
offset by frustrating losses to Dennis
and Conor
. From there, the Hawaiian continued to develop and
bloomed during a 13-fight winning streak that included an extended
run as featherweight champion. Now well-established as one of the
UFC’s true stars, he has turned his attention to building a
historic legacy.

As Holloway awaits his next order of business, a look at some of
the rivalries that lit his pathway:

Volkanovski ended Holloway’s 922-day reign atop the 145-pound
weight class. (Photo: Getty Images)

Volkanovski leaned on crushing leg kicks and power punching
combinations, as he captured the featherweight crown with a
unanimous decision over Holloway in the UFC 245 co-main event on
Dec. 14, 2019 at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas. The Australian swept
the scorecards with 48-47, 48-47 and 50-45 marks from the judges,
ending Holloway’s 922-day reign atop the 145-pound weight class.
Volkanovski never once deviated from his game plan. He shredded
Holloway’s base with kicks to the upper and lower leg, forcing him
to switch from orthodox to southpaw. Holloway fought well in
spurts—he occasionally doubled up on his jab and connected with
hooks to the body—but ran into an opponent who was unwilling to
back down. Volkanovski kept the Hawaiian’s patented multi-punch
volleys to a minimum, fought fire with fire when the situation
called for it and emerged as the fourth undisputed featherweight
champion in UFC history. Holloway, who was ticketed for a rematch
with Volkanovski prior to the coronavirus outbreak, was respectful
in defeat but did not agree with the decision.

“I don’t want to sound like a sore loser,” he said. “I didn’t watch
no tape. I don’t know what happened. I felt like we was doing
enough, but there’s three guys’ opinions that matter the most and
they didn’t see it my way, so at the end of the day, it is what it
is. We’ll be back. Like I said, I’m only 28. I’m only 28, guys.
I’ll be back, and we’ll be ready.”

Holloway teed off on Ortega until a cage-side doctor showed
mercy. (Photo: Getty Images)

The previously unbeaten Ortega did everything in his power to
loosen Holloway’s grip on the featherweight throne, but his efforts
proved fruitless. The Hawaiian retained his undisputed 145-pound
title in resounding fashion, as he forced a doctor stoppage after
the fourth round of their UFC 231 headliner on Dec. 8, 2018 at
Scotiabank Arena in Toronto. The cageside physician took one look
at Ortega’s grotesquely swollen left eye and declared him unfit to
continue, and no one in their right mind could have argued with his
decision. Ortega put up considerable resistance and obliged the
Hawaiian with a war of attrition, only to be met with four-, five-
and six-punch combinations. Holloway struck with surgical
precision. The champion connected with 166 of the 304 total strikes
and 156 of the 294 significant strikes he attempted. Ortega, who
has not fought since, was credited with two takedowns but could do
nothing of note with either of them.

“He’s a tough opponent, tough guy,” Holloway said. “We’ll probably
see each other all the way to heavyweight because we like to

Holloway took Aldo’s title and then stopped him in the rematch.
(Photo: Getty Images)

Holloway removed Aldo from power by force, as he laid claim to the
featherweight championship by disposing of the Brazilian with
third-round punches in the UFC 212 main event on June 3, 2017 at
Jeunesse Arena in Rio de Janeiro. Holloway drew the curtain 4:13
into Round 3, as he took his place on the 145-pound throne. Aldo
was competitive, as evidenced by the fact that he outlanded the
Hawaiian in each of the first two rounds: 19-12 in the first and
29-28 in the second. However, he holstered one of his most trusted
and devastating weapons, the
Nova Uniao
standout throwing only one leg kick across more than
14 minutes of combat. Holloway decked him with a two-punch
combination in the third round, climbed into top position and cut
loose with ground-and-pound—he paused briefly for an attempt at a
rear-naked choke—until referee John McCarthy called for the

Six months later, their rematch provided the same result, as
Holloway put away Aldo with punches 4:51 into the third round of
the UFC 218 headliner.

“I just had to be myself,” Holloway said. “That first fight, I was
holding back a little bit. “This one, I let myself go a little
faster. It showed. He took this fight on short notice. He got tired
the first fight on a full camp. What do you think was going to
happen the second time?”