clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

UFC 194 results recap: Max Holloway vs Jeremy Stephens fight review and analysis

Last night (Sat., Dec. 12, 2015), Max Holloway and Jeremy Stephens threw down at UFC 194 inside MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada. In a competitive bout, Holloway took a unanimous decision. Find out how below!

Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) Featherweight standouts Max Holloway and Jeremy Stephens slugged it out last night (Dec. 12, 2015) at UFC 194 inside MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada.

Holloway entered this bout on a massive win streak with a great deal of momentum behind him. If he continued to find success opposite Stephens, the young Hawaiian would not be far from a title shot.

Stephens, on the other hand, was coming off a spectacular knockout win in one of the best brawls of the year. By knocking out Holloway, Stephens could steal his opponent's momentum and turn it towards his own title run.

Both fighters were hesitant to exchange early, as Stephens switched his stance and fired off lots of kicks. Meanwhile, Holloway looked to find his range with punches, working to keep Stephens on the edge of his punches.

After a couple of minutes, Holloway began to land a bit with his punches and stuffed a takedown attempt. However, Stephens returned to his game and landed some hard low kicks once more to end the round.

On the whole, the first was entirely close, as neither fighter really settled into the fight. Stephens landed the more significant strikes with his kicks, but Holloway was a bit more active.

Both men opened up with a bit more activity, and the trend of Stephens digging low while Holloway kept up a higher volume of punches. Plus, Holloway continued to stuff his opponent's takedowns, though Stephens mixed things up a bit more a larger emphasis on body blows.

The fighters opened up with the first real exchange of power shots at about the mid-way point in the round, but things settled back down quickly. Additionally, Stephens continually forced clinch exchanges by shooting for takedowns, and neither man was really effective at that range.

Once again, it was an extremely close round. However, Holloway's counter punchers were just sharp enough to likely edge him the round.

After another tepid opening minute, Holloway landed a nice clinch takedown. From top position, Holloway landed some nice, long punches and advanced position, eventually taking Stephens' back.

With about two minutes remaining, Stephens returned to his feet. With a serious sense of desperation, Stephens loaded up on his punches and swung for the fences. He really tried to make a come-from-behind finish happen and did land some nice shots, but ultimately it didn't work out for him.

In the end, this was the strong third round Holloway needed to secure the victory.

This was a solid -- if not spectacular -- victory for Holloway. Against a skilled veteran with dangerous finishing ability, Holloway largely diffused his opponent's offense and kept his volume high.

More often than not, that's enough to get the victory.

In addition, Holloway's takedown defense held up well. Stephens caught him off-balance with a number of shots, but Holloway was able to regain his footing and stay upright. Plus, that takedown in the third round was a big moment for Holloway, as it was the most effective single piece of offense for either fighter.

Unfortunately for Holloway, Frankie Edgar is next in line for a title shot. He could square off with the loser of the main event, or any other top 10 fighter without a fight while he waits for his opportunity.

Similarly, Stephens fought fairly well. On the feet, his low kicks and body punches were effective, though he got caught swinging wild in the first two rounds a bit too much for my liking. Still, with his power, that wasn't the worst idea, so I won't really fault him there either.

The major issue with Stephens' game plan was his insistence on looking for the takedown. After a couple shots, it soon became clear that Stephens wasn't going to drag Holloway to the mat. Instead of abandoning his attempts then, Stephens kept shooting. This caused him to fatigue and made him less effective on his feet, where he was very competitive.

This loss -- along with his other defeats at Featherweights -- solidify that Stephens is a gatekeeper to the elite. He may not ever contend for the title, but Stephens is very much a top 10 fighter in his prime.

Last night, Max Holloway out-struck Jeremy Stephens over the course of three rounds. Can the young Hawaiian someday take UFC gold?

For complete UFC 194: "Aldo vs McGregor" results and play-by-play, click HERE!