Two of the youngest and least experienced UFC fighters stepped into the Octagon last night (August 11, 2012) to open up the UFC 150 main card in Denver, Colorado as 20 year old Max Holloway took on 22 year old veteran of The Ultimate Fighter Live, Justin Lawrence.
Combined, the youngsters had a total of 10 fights between them, but they put on an entertaining show for the fans to get things started.
Lawrence had all the tools to propel himself to victory with superior wrestling and a more diverse striking attack, but that didn't stop Holloway from leaving him in a crumpled heap on the canvas at the end of the second round.
So what put the 20 year old Hawaiian over the top? And where do both talented young fighters go from here?
Follow me after the jump for our Max Holloway vs. Justin Lawrence UFC 150 post-fight review and analysis.
Early on, both Lawrence and Holloway had their moments. Lawrence attacked successfully with some of his unique kick variations while Holloway found success with his punches. It was the height and reach advantage for Holloway that was giving Lawrence some fits despite the fact that he was dropping down a weight class.
Lawrence had trouble getting inside and landing significant damage all fight. He utilized some decent head movement and overall footwork to avoid danger at first, but Holloway began to gain confidence the more he landed counters and rangey punches from a distance.
As the second round continued, Holloway's confidence continued to grow, but it was a nasty knee to the body which set everything up. Lawrence backed away from the Hawaiian after absorbing the shot and Holloway rightly smelled blood in the water.
The 20-year old swarmed Lawrence and threw a beautiful combination, one right hand to the body and then a left hand directly to the liver which folded "The American Kid" in half. After a few more punches on the ground, it was all over.
For Justin Lawrence, this was a case of being unable to utilize all his skills and also not making the proper adjustments. He needed to close the distance properly to land his power punches and it seemed like as the fight wore on, Holloway was catching onto the fact that he was lunging in with a right hook. Not only did Holloway start avoiding it, he started countering the attack and then Lawrence had no answer. On top of this, he didn't utilize his wrestling properly at all. He scored a takedown early but he let Holloway up and then he completely blew it by shooting in from way too far out every time after that and was unable to put Holloway down again.
I'd expect Lawrence to get a fight from someone at the lower rung of the division as the promotion probably still sees plenty of promise in him. A fight against Cody McKenzie, Josh Clopton or Godofredo Pepey would make sense.
For Max Holloway, he got stronger as this fight wore on. As he got into a groove on the feet, it became easier for him to see what was coming from Lawrence and he started countering nicely. His takedown defense is also improving rapidly as he avoided getting put on his back on multiple occasions and even popped to his feet quickly whenever he was briefly put down. What I liked most was the improvement in killer instinct. When he had Lawrence hurt, he didn't let him off the hook like he did against Pat Schilling. He swarmed him and attacked right in the breadbasket to score an emphatic finish.
So what did you think, Maniacs?
Were you impressed with Holloway stepping up and getting the stoppage? Do you think the 20-year old has a bright future in the UFC?