Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) featherweights Max Holloway and Cole Miller duked it out last night (Sat., Feb. 14, 2015) at UFC Fight Night 60 inside 1STBANK Center in Broomfield, Colorado.
Holloway broke into the rankings last year on the strength of four straight finishes. At just 23 years old, Holloway is still being brought along slowly, explaining his match up with an established gatekeeper in Miller.
However, Miller was looking to break away from the middle of the division, a position in which he's resided for much of his UFC career. Miller has performed fairly well at featherweight recently, and a victory over Holloway would be a clear sign that Miller was finally ready for the top of the division.
Unfortunately, Miller once again faltered at a potential step up.
For much of the first round, the two exchanged strikes from the kickboxing range. Holloway pressured his opponent from the center of the cage and generally landed the better shots -- including a very hard body kick -- while Miller hung in gamely and landed kicks of his own.
With about a minute and a half left, Miller got more aggressive with his grappling. He forced his way into the clinch, where the two traded knees, a couple of times. Then, Miller attempted a scissor leg lock and momentarily swept the Hawaiian, but Holloway scrambled out of danger.
Holloway clearly took the first round, but Miller once again reminded fight fans that he shouldn't be counted out.
Unlike the first, Miller controlled the center of the Octagon. Despite this, Holloway was still landing the better shots. Miller went for a single leg takedown and attempted to transition into a footlock, but Holloway moved out of the hold quickly.
After an accidental head butt split open "Magrinho," the two stepped up the pace of their exchanges. Holloway really got the better with his counters during this time, and Miller's output really dropped a fair bit towards the end of the round because of that.
Holloway landed a nice combination of body shots to start the final frame. Afterward, Holloway pressured Miller heavily with feints and punches, waiting to explode into combinations when Miller was pinned against the fence. On one such combo, Holloway seemed to stun Miller with a spinning elbow, but he didn't follow him to the mat.
For the rest of the bout, it seemed that Holloway really couldn't miss. He landed some huge counter shots and most of his pressure combinations, particularly from the Southpaw stance. By the end of the fight, Miller was pretty cut up and battered by Hollaway's excellent kickboxing skills.
At the end of fifteen minutes, all three judges named Holloway as the victor.
Holloway continued to show his improvement in this bout. He did not give up any takedowns and his excellent kickboxing skills carried him to victory. Overall, Holloway has done a fine job relying on strong fundamentals while occasionally mixing in his flashy but still damaging strikes.
In the final round, Holloway did an excellent job from the Southpaw stance. Each time Holloway lead with his straight left, he stepped outside Miller's lead foot with ease. From that angle, Miller could do very little except cover up and hope for the best.
For his next bout, Holloway is apparently scrapping with Cub Swanson in what is sure to be a phenomenal battle.
Miller's position in his division hasn't really changed throughout his entire UFC career. He's as game as it gets -- and his submission always makes him a threat -- but Miller simply doesn't have the physical tools or wrestling to compete with the best his division, regardless of whether it's lightweight or featherweight.
In short, Miller will either be matched with a fellow middling veteran or an up-and-comer. In this case, perhaps fellow featherweight also-ran Jim Alers would make for a good match up.
At UFC Fight Night 60, Max Holloway continued his climb to the top at the expense of Cole Miller. Can the Hawaiian kickboxer make it to the top of a stacked division?
For complete UFC Fight Night 60 "Henderson vs Thatch" results and play-by-play click HERE.