Max Holloway and Yair Rodriguez left each other bloodied and bruised after an epic fight at UFC Vegas 42 – but both were all smiles in an ambulance afterwards.
The featherweight rivals put on a brutal showing, deservedly winning the Fight of the Night award, with Holloway surviving a strong start from Rodriguez to prevail via a unanimous decision.
And the American inflicted serious damage on his opponent, leaving him with two black eyes and a deep cut on his left cheekbone. To compound matters, he also appeared to break his right foot during the bout.
After being checked on by medics, the 29-year-old was whisked into the back of an ambulance to receive further treatment, but it was there that ‘El Pantera’ was joined by Holloway, also 29.
The ‘Blessed’ didn’t look too clever himself, sporting obvious swelling above his right eye and a number of cuts on his face, but before Rodriguez was taken to hospital he made sure he posed for a picture with the Mexican star, and both were all smiles despite their facial injuries.
And in a further display of respect, Holloway told his foe “Yair, you frickin animal! Oh, I don’t wanna touch your ankle.
“That’s 50K brother, that’s 50K brother.”
Rodriguez replied with “I love you,” and Holloway told him back “No I love you, brother.”
Their post-fight behaviour went down well with UFC fans, with @VindictiveMMA posting “I really do enjoy watching fighters treat each other with respect after a fight. It’s weird screaming for blood then wanting them to be “friends” when it’s all said and done. I think this is what makes it a sport rather than a sanctioned street fight.”
@woodlandmadman added “Respect. It’s a beautiful thing.”
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For Holloway, it was a second straight win since suffering back-to-back defeats to UFC Featherweight champion Alexander Volkanovski, but in his post-fight interview he was coy about the prospect of a trilogy bout with the Australian.
“We’ll see what happens,” he said. “There’s Hunter [Campbell], there’s Sean [Shelby] right there. That’s their damn jobs.
“I have a win over the 155-pound champion, we have Alex and stuff, I’m on the shortlist for Conor McGregor – tell him to hit my line. We ready whenever.”
Volkanovski beat Holloway via unanimous decision in July December 2019, and then in the rematch seven months later, edged a closer fight on a split call from the judges.