Tonight’s UFC Fight Night in Saskatoon, Canada seemed like a can’t miss affair.
Its main event looked like a candidate for “Fight of the Year.” It featured two of the best fighters in one of MMA’s most competitive divisions: featherweight contenders Max “Blessed” Holloway and Charles “Do Bronx” Oliveira.
The 23 year old Holloway, from Waianae, Hawaii, and the 25 year old Oliveira, from Sao Paolo, Brazil, are among the sport’s most dynamic athletes. Plus, at yesterday’s weigh-in event, they seemed to match perfectly; in fact, they seemed mirror images of one another. They bowed and shook hands respectfully — seemingly ready for a classic fight.
Yep, perfect… on paper.
But tonight? It never quite happened.
Less than two minutes into the bout, Oliveira sustained an injury while attempting a takedown. He crumbled to the mat, and the action was waved off by referee Herb Dean at 1:39.
Holloway, who had been narrowly out-landing Oliveira to that point (particularly with his southpaw jab), celebrated his victory — but most observers, including all but his most devoted fans, were disappointed.
Oliveira was taken from cageside in a stretcher and, according to Canada’s Managing Director for UFC Operations Tom Wright, is able to move all his extremities.
At the post-fight press conference, Holloway expressed his concern for his opponent.
“The ending sucked,” he said. “I trained super hard and my prayers go out to Charles… If you can’t fight, you can’t pay your bills. Injuries set you back. I’m praying for Charles.”
No prognosis for Oliveira has been made available yet.
For full play-by-play coverage of UFC Fight Night: Holloway vs. Oliveira, please see our PBP at http://www.cagedinsider.com/ufc/ufn-74-holloway-oliveira-live-coverage-results/